Published: Aug 01, 2011 11:32 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 01, 2011 9:17 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Cape Coral homes sales are on the rise, but it's who's doing the buying that has realtors talking.

Cape Coral is the third most popular city in the nation for foreign investors, according to a new survey conducted by real estate website

Realtor Marc Joseph says 30 to 40% of his buyers aren't from Southwest Florida or even the U.S.

"Started out with Canadians, a little bit of Europeans, and over the last 3 to 4 weeks, a tremendous amount of Australians have come to our market," Joseph said Monday.

While foreign investors may not physically see the property before they close, Joseph says they're doing their homework, typically targeting median-size homes in foreclosure or at a reduced price.

"I would say a very small percentage are using them for vacation homes. They're buying them as investments, to either rent them out or with the idea of fixing them up and selling them off to people that would buy them," Joseph explained.

Cape Coral's Association of Realtors says the trend will help turn the sour housing market around.

"Back in 2007, we had 6,300 homes for sale in Cape Coral. Today, we have about 1,400 homes for sale. Supply and demand is what's going to get us out of this real estate economy that we're in," Paula Hellenbrand of the Cape's Association of Realtors said Monday.

With the deals dwindling, foreign investors aren't waiting for prime season to purchase properties.

"They are very educated. They watch these numbers, and they say, if I'm going to buy, I gotta buy now," Joseph said. 

The survey ranks  Los Angeles and New York City as the top two locations of interest for foreign investors, with Cape Coral coming in third.