At last count back in 2008, Maricopa County, where I live in Arizona, boasted a population of just under 4 million people, ranking it fourth among the country’s counties. To get that big, a county needs size (9,224 square miles), lots of babies and plenty of immigrants.

Historically, the main point of departure for people moving into Maricopa County was California, and the emigrants were either job seekers, retirees or folks cashing out of their expensive residences in places like Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County and moving to Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa where homes were half the price of where they left.

For the past seven months, however, Maricopa County has gotten a new No. 1 source of homebuyers: Canadians.

Starting in December 2009 and running through June — the most recent numbers tracked by Irvine, Calif.-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting — Canadians have supplanted Californians as the biggest buyers of Maricopa County residential real estate.

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