The home-buying-abroad craze

Despite real estate slowdown, vacation homes are still hot

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Nearly every day, we read about the increasing popularity of second homes in a remote Mexican seaside town, or the lure of buying a Tuscan villa or the exotic real estate possibilities in Panama. But how many North Americans are actually rolling the dice and choosing to purchase a second home outside the U.S.? Accurate, tangible data on Americans buying abroad is nearly impossible to find, and the recent National Association of Realtors' annual Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey did nothing to help consumers who seek international second-home statistics. While the survey revealed that domestic vacation-home sales increased 4.7 percent in 2006 to a record 1.07 million, the poll did not contain any questions targeting international purchases. While NAR indicated that it was possible that some of the 1,412 respondents surveyed in April purchased outside of U.S. borders, "the size of the survey wouldn't have provided enough meaningful responses." According to the U.S. St...