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US dominates list for foreign real estate investors

Global real estate investors are flocking to the U.S.

A new survey shows that while London was the number one city among foreign real estate investors, the rest of the top five cities were all in the U.S.: New York (#2), San Francisco (#3), Houston (#4), Los Angeles (#5).

The survey of members of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate said the U.S. is the "stable and secure" country for real-estate investment "by a wide margin." The U.S. is also the top market when it comes to capital appreciation and for future real-estate purchases.

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Houston's high ranking shows that investors are starting to look beyond New York and San Francisco for deals.

London, England.Scott E. Barbour | Photodisc | Getty Images

"Our members' increasing interest in cities beyond the powerhouses of New York, Washington and San Francisco points to the recognition of additional investment opportunities for foreign investors," said James E. Fetgatter, the association's CEO.

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While most of the association's members are institutions, some are high-net worth families. The survey doesn't track investments in single-family homes.

The number one category for investment in 2013 was industrial properties, followed by office, retail and multifamily homes. Last year, multifamily homes ranked first.

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The latest data from the National Association of Realtors, which was released last summer, showed that foreign buyers had scooped up $68.2 billion of single-family homes in the U.S. in the year ended March 2013. That's about 7 percent of the total U.S. market. That was down slightly from the $82.5 billion invested during the same period of 2012, but up from 2011. The fastest growth in foreign buyers was from China and Canada.

—By CNBC's Robert Frank. Follow him on Twitter @robtfrank.

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