By Diana Olick, CNBC Real Estate Reporter
NEW YORK ( CNBC) -- Home sales are bouncing along the bottom, home prices still haven't hit bottom, and government proposals to juice the housing market are simply falling flat. The one bright spot in the hardest hit markets is foreign investment. While international buyers made up just 3% of home purchases nationally in September, according to the National Association of Realtors, they made up a far higher share in Miami and Phoenix, where the now-burst housing bubble left the greatest rubble. Investors are buying up the distressed inventory at a fast clip, but not fast enough. So why not try to get more?
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"We would prefer that people of means live here and buy our groceries, our gas and invest in local economies," says Lee's spokesman, Brian Phillips. Okay, good for us, but lets face it, a rich foreign buyer would rather see a return on investment than get a six-month vacation home. They likely already have that. Foreign buyers have every incentive to maintain the properties because they will want to see maximum rental income, and with rents and rental demand on fire right now, that incentive is even stronger. And how exactly are you going to police these buyers, i.e. make sure they're actually living in these homes for six months? Perhaps the residency requirement is more political, that is to fend of criticism that we are selling the American dream to greedy foreign investors with no domestic return on that investment. If that's the case, well, forgive me but that's a load of ... We live in a global society with global investors, especially in real estate. U.S. commercial real estate has long benefited from foreign investment, and there's no reason residential shouldn't as well. Rental inventory is too low to meet today's demand, home ownership is no longer a priority or even a possibility for a growing number of Americans, and investors, any and all investors, are sorely needed to eat up foreclosures, rent them out and save us from this continuing despair spiral. -- Written by Diana Olick, CNBC Real Estate Reporter