International referrals give agents hope

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While housing analysts continue to paint a rather anxious and uncertain picture for residential property in the near future, one emerging source of business for agents has been foreign buyers investing in the U.S. -- and another is Americans buying abroad. According to the National Association of Realtors, approximately 178,000 of its members closed a transaction with a foreign buyer in 2008, including approximately 61 percent of all Florida Realtors. About the same number of agents had a deal fall through with a foreign buyer due to price, immigration laws, and higher-than-expected property taxes and home insurance costs. While the "inflow" of Russians, Germans and United Kingdom residents has been common in the past five years along the Atlantic Coast, the "outflow" of Americans heading north to Canada and south to the Central American sun also is increasing. While the total foreign business (approximately 3 percent) is tiny compared with the number o...