International buyers are nudging the U.S. housing recovery along, with the Chinese providing the biggest boost, according to the National Association of Realtors, CNNMoney reported.

Chinese buying was up nearly 80 percent to $22 billion, accounting for nearly 1 in 4 dollars of all foreign purchases, the Realtors said, with most of the buying concentrated in California and Washington State.

Canadians actually buy the most houses in the United States, but the Chinese favor more expensive properties. More than 75 percent of Chinese purchases are all-cash buys at an average price of $591,000.

Many Chinese buyers don't plan to settle here, with 39 percent saying they intended to use their purchases as their primary home.

Some may buy condos for their children attending U.S. colleges. They hope that, in addition to saving on dormitory fees, they can make benefit from home price appreciation by the time the students graduate.

Others are becoming landlords, buying cheap homes in distressed economic pockets, like Detroit, and renting them out. Some are buying vacation properties.