I'm an Aussie and I purchased 5 of these properties from 2008 to 2010.
I was looking for positive cash flow on properties for not too much upfront investment.
The USA property market made sense because of the high Aussie $$ at the time, the depressed property market in the US and the expensive market here. I used an investment web-site that allowed me to screen properties by yield and after eliminating outliers, went for the city with the highest consistent yield performance. I settled on Toledo, Ohio as it had the highest yields and was severely impacted by the housing crisis.
I bought my first property for $18K US which was a little over $17K AUD. The property was a duplex in great condition in a reasonable location. Monthly rentals $US900 and rents guaranteed and direct deposited into my bank account every month by section 8. Taxes $900 a year and $450 a year for water. Total return around $US8,000.
My second property was a short sale in a reasonable area. The asking was $US8K and was a single family in good condition already tenanted. I went through the steps with the bank and after a few months, was the proud owner of another tenanted, positive cash flow property returning $600 a month gross. Taxes of $600 a year and water about the same. $US6K NET a year on a property that cost $AUD8K
Third and fourth were two single family dwellings in good areas. These both cost $US14K each and returned $US700 a month each. $US28K for two properties that gross around $US15K a year.
My fifth property was a tax foreclosure of a guy with 2 kids whose wife had left him and whose friend had stolen the money to repay the property taxes. He was basically on the bones of his butt and was staring down the barrel of being homeless with two kids. The property was in great condition in a reasonable part of town. The property cost me $4K.
I signed up the previous owner in a land contract to buy his house back for $US30K. Payments over 10 years at 7% came out to around $US333 per month. I made him an offer whereby if he acted as my property manager, i would forgo the land contract payments and pay him a percentage of the rents in exchange for his services. I would also pay for any work he did on the properties. He jumped at it. Seven years later, we're still working together and he keeps the properties humming.
Right now the AUD is around 80c US and looks like falling to around 65c by June 2015. Rental income in Aussie $$ is around $2750 every month. This month (Jan 2015) I have transferred my property manager's house back to him with a quit claim deed and sold the remaining houses for $US100K After taxes and commission I expect to receive in the vicinity of AUD$120K Which is pretty good for a $AUD53K investment. I've also received around $30K in rent a year.
I'm of the belief I should be buying when everybody else is selling and selling when everybody else is buying. I'm on the look-out for my next positive cash flow investment and I'm thinking maybe an emerging market smashed by the oil shock.
I wish you all happiness and success in your investment.