International buyers continue to play a pivotal role in residential real estate sales in Southwest Florida.The Sarasota-Manatee region ranked fourth statewide, with foreign buyers accounting for 8 percent of all single-family home and condominium sales, according to a new report by the National Association of Realtors. Canadians represented 35 percent of the area’s international buyers during the period from July 2013 through June 2104, the NAR study found. Buyers from the United Kingdom were second at 14 percent, followed by China at 11 percent.The two counties were the state’s second-most-popular region for U.K. buyers, the NAR reported.Statewide, foreign buyers purchased $7.97 billion worth of residential real estate in the 12-month period, rebounding 24 percent from $6.43 billion the year before. “Florida is one of the major U.S. destinations of international residential real estate buyers,” the study by NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun and others said.”Approximately 25 percent of foreign buyers in the U.S. purchase property in Florida.”International sales accounted for about 10 percent of Florida’s residential market dollar volume, up from 9 percent a year earlier.

Non-resident foreigners — those who live here a portion of the year — bought an estimated 26,500 units in Florida, up from 22,600 the year before. Nationally, international buyers snapped up $92.2 billion in residential real estate from April 2013 through March 2014, up $68.2 billion over the year. Favorable exchange rates, affordable pricing and rising affluence abroad have contributed to the increase. “Foreign buyers are being enticed to U.S. real estate because of what they recognize as attractive prices, economic stability, and an incredible opportunity for investment in their future,” NAR president Steve Brown said. Of U.K. money spent on Florida properties, 17 percent was in the Sarasota-Manatee region. Those buyers paid a mean price of $349,000 statewide for a home, $48,400 above the price paid by all foreigners. The region drew 9 percent of Canadians’ home buying in the state. They paid a mean price of $260,800, or $39,800 less than the statewide mean. “Both U.S. and Florida residential prices remain affordable to most international home buyers,” Yun said in the NAR report. “In fact, international clients continued to purchase properties that are on the average above the mean price paid by domestic buyers.”