Local residents\' acquisition of overseas real estate reached US$49.5 million in the first three months of this year, government data showed Sunday. The figure represents an increase from $27.7 million recorded during the last quarter of last year but falls far short of $63 million, the quarterly average between 2010 and 2011, according to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance. North America was the most popular destination between January and March for South Korean real estate buyers, accounting for $28.6 million or 64.2 percent of the total purchases. The figure declined from the same period of last year when it accounted for 77.9 percent of total real estate purchases, the ministry said. \"South Koreans\' acquisition of overseas real estate is unlikely to improve for the time being due to the delayed recovery of the U.S. housing market, a key target of acquisitions, and global economic uncertainty,\" the ministry said. South Koreans also bought real estate worth $3.5 million in Australia, followed by Canada ($3.2 million), Hong Kong ($2.9 million), Britain ($2.7 million), Singapore ($2.3 million) and the Philippines ($1.6 million) Nearly 90 percent of offshore real estate buyers were retail investors, with institutional or corporate investors accounting for 10.5 percent, the ministry said.