ABC News: America for Sale: Foreigners Flock to U.S.

Foreigners buying property — both residential and commercial — in the United States is nothing new. But in recent months, as the exchange rate has swung further in their favor, Irish, British, Italian and even Canadian investors have started to gobble up more land here.

“This has been a record year for acquisitions by offshore investors,” said Dan Fasulo, managing director of Real Capital Analytics, which tracks such transactions.

Through the first three-fourths of the year, there has been $31 billion in commercial real estate purchases by foreigners here, according to Fasulo. Compare that to $23 billion in all of 2006. And Fasulo added: the fourth quarter is usually the most active.

I sold a luxury home to an expatriate American living in London earlier this year. In just the last couple of weeks I have probably received as many inquiries about buying Arizona real estate from Canadians as I have from Americans. Arizona home prices are a steal for Canadians at today’s exchange rate.

Fasulo said that in the past, we have seen investment from Germany, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom. But lately investors from other countries have joined them, including Ireland, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong and very recently Canada… “Investors all over the world are just flush with cash that needs to be placed somewhere,” Fasulo said. “U.S. real estate, to offshore investors, is considered a very safe and attractive investment.”

More on Canada.

Even Canada has recently jumped on the bandwagon with currencies in both countries reaching parity for the first time since 1976. Just last week, Toronto-Dominion Bank announced it was buying New Jersey-based Commerce Bankcorp for $8.5 billion.

Some European and Canadian buyers are looking to buy property purely as an investment because of the currency differences, while others want a vacation home they can rent out when they aren’t using it.