International buyers fueling central Fla. housing market

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CENTRAL FLORIDA —

New numbers show more foreign families buying up property in Florida.

The Sunshine State is at the top of the list of destinations for international buyers, not only for investment purposes, but also to settle down and raise a family.

International buyers are purchasing homes, sight unseen. Instead, they’re using tools like Skype, pictures and virtual video tours to get a look at the properties.

“I can zoom in on the granite countertops, on the flooring, the pool…whatever they want to see I can zoom in on,” said Marion Thacker of Engel & Völkers.

New numbers from the National Association of Realtors show, in 2011, international buyers purchased 51 percent of homes sold in the U.S. -- totaling $82 million in sales. Florida was number one, selling the most -- $10 billion and the central Florida region is growing in popularity.

“They mention the parks, the economies and the good schools -- UCF certainly holds a draw for them,” Thacker said.

Foreign families buy more expensive properties. On average they spend about $195,000 -- about $70,000 more than the average sale price of $125,000.

Experts advise buyers to always have someone serve as a proxy to conduct the proper inspections to the property before signing any documents.