Florida remained the most popular U.S. property search destination among foreign house hunters during the last three months of 2011, according to a quarterly report from real estate technology and marketing company Point2.

Point2’s International Real Estate Traffic Report, which debuted in December, tracks visits from non-U.S. consumers to listings pages on the company’s public-facing property portal, Point2Homes.

During the fourth quarter. Point2Homes had an average of 800,000 U.S. listings, and international traffic accounted for 35 percent of traffic to the site.

The 10 most popular areas — nine states plus Puerto Rico — captured 84.9 percent of the site’s international traffic overall, little changed from the third quarter of 2011 and the same period a year ago.

"International interest presents a good opportunity for the savvy (real estate) agent. Those who can effectively market to international buyers interested in their city, by better understanding who they are, will be better equipped to tap this opportunity," said Saul Klein, senior vice president for Point2.

Source: Point2

Florida was by far the most popular state, capturing 31 percent of international traffic to all U.S. listings, a slight drop from its 33 percent share in the third quarter. Arizona and Nevada held their No.2 and No. 3 spots, each increasing market share to 19.4 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively. California, U.S. territory Puerto Rico, Michigan, Texas, Hawaii, Georgia and New York also stayed in the top 10, though Michigan and Texas traded the No. 6 and 7 spots.

Top 10 states by share of international real estate traffic (Q4):

State %
Florida 31%
Arizona 19.4%
Nevada 8.6%
California 7.1%
Puerto Rico 5.6%
Michigan 4%
Texas 3.6%
Hawaii 2.8%
Georgia 1.4%
New York 1.4%

Source: Point2

Canada was by far the biggest source of international traffic for these 10 areas, accounting for the highest share of foreign traffic in all and the majority of foreign traffic in six: Arizona, where Canadians made up 93.6 percent of foreign traffic; Hawaii (78.3 percent); Michigan (74.1 percent); California (73.7 percent); Florida (65.9 percent); and Nevada (63.2 percent). Point2 is based in Saskatoon, Canada.

"We continue to see consistent international interest in U.S. real estate, particularly from Canadians, who typically travel to the U.S. for holidays. Many Canadians own property in the U.S., typically in warmer regions. We also find that there is interest in states with close proximity to Canada where the opportunity to own or invest in real estate seems very attractive, such as Michigan," Klein said.

"In our opinion, the key drivers include a relatively strong Canadian dollar, ample inventory and motivated sellers."

As in the third quarter, the United Kingdom and Mexico were the second- and third-biggest sources of international traffic to these 10 areas last quarter. Georgia had the biggest share of traffic from the U.K. among the 10, accounting for 11.3 percent of that state’s overall international traffic. Texas saw the biggest share of international traffic from nearby Mexico, making up 10.2 percent of the territory’s overall foreign traffic.

Las Vegas was the most popular city for foreigners, accounting for 14.5 percent of overall international visits to U.S. cities. Mesa, Ariz., was second, followed by Orlando, Fla.

Among the top 20 most popular cities, Florida accounted for seven, down from eight in third-quarter 2011; Arizona, five, up from three in the third quarter; Puerto Rico, three, up from two; California, two, down from four; and Nevada, Michigan and New York, one each.

Las Vegas attracted nearly all of Nevada’s international traffic in the fourth quarter (90.1 percent) with Canada as the leading source (62.1 percent), followed by Russia (10.7 percent), and Australia (3.7 percent).

International traffic was more evenly spread across Florida’s cities. Orlando attracted the biggest share (9.8 percent), followed by Pompano Beach (9.3 percent) and Kissimmee (7.5 percent). In Orlando, Canada accounted for 28.5 percent of foreign traffic, followed by Puerto Rico (20.8 percent) and the U.K. (12.7 percent). In Pompano Beach, Canada led the vast majority of traffic, 90.1 percent, followed distantly by Venezuela at 2.9 percent.

Canada also accounted for the vast majority of international traffic in Mesa and Detroit, the second and fifth most popular U.S. cities, respectively.

Mesa attracted 29 percent of overall international traffic to Arizona. Canada made up nearly 98 percent of international traffic to the city, followed by Albania at 0.6 percent.

In California, Indio was the most searched city, attracting 17.9 percent of the state’s international traffic. Canada accounted for 91.6 percent of the city’s foreign traffic, followed by the U.K. (4.9 percent), and Mexico (3.6 percent).

In Puerto Rico, San Juan was the most popular city with 18.1 percent of the territory’s fourth-quarter international traffic. Canada led among site visitors (24.5 percent), followed by Spain (12.7 percent), and Mexico (6.4 percent).

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