14 Oct

Foreign frenzy for Florida residences


Interest from foreigners in Florida residences is spreading to properties throughout the state.

October 14, 2013 / By Amy Keller

Interest from foreigners in Florida residences is spreading to properties throughout the state.

Interest in single-family homes from corporate buyers such as equity firms has been a major factor in moving Florida’s residential real estate market out the recessionary doldrums [See “Landlord Inc.,” February 2013].

But there’s been another big source of demand for Florida residences: In 2012, one in five sales of Florida homes was to a non-resident foreigner, according to a March report from the National Association of Realtors. Florida accounted for 23% of all U.S. home sales to foreigners, leading the nation in sales to international buyers.

International interest is still focused on southeast Florida — close to one-third of all international home sales in Florida are in Miami, thanks to an influx of Brazilians, Venezuelans and Argentines. The Fort Lauderdale and Orlando markets are a distant second and third, accounting for 11.6% and 8.9% of sales to international buyers.

International Buyers
Top States
State% of U.S. Total
In Florida
Country of Origin% of All Foreign Buyers
Latin America/ Caribbean29%
Africa/ Middle East4%

But interest from foreign buyers is spreading throughout the state as Florida real estate brokers actively market their regions overseas. In July, Teresa Witte, sales manager for RE/MAX Platinum Realty’s new global new homes division in Sarasota, traveled to São Paulo, Brazil, on behalf of three builders to promote home buying in southwest and central Florida.

The response was enthusiastic, says Witte. “They were really interested. They’ve heard about the Gulf of Mexico, but they’ve never been here.”

Most potential foreign buyers, she says, are familiar with Miami Beach and Orlando because they’ve vacationed there, says Witte, but “they don’t have the time to explore other areas. I think it’s up to us to take these areas to them.” She’s on the marketing trail again, with stops planned in the U.K., followed by Toronto, Russia and Colombia.

Home sales to foreigners have proved a boon not just to brokers, but also to local property tax receipts in counties hit hard by the recession. According to Bloomberg News, property assessments in the 10 counties that have had the largest influx of international cash have risen nearly twice as fast as assessments in the rest of the state.

Also benefiting are businesses like Moneycorp, a London-based provider of foreign currency exchange services, which helps foreigners — most of whom pay cash — transfer their currencies into dollars.

“We deal with lots of Germans and Canadians on the southwest coast of Florida. Down in Miami and central Florida, we’re seeing lots of Brazilian activity,” says Kelly Cutchin, USA country manager for Moneycorp.


Foreign Buyer Preferences
Foreigner Price Range Favorite Market Preferred Property*
CanadianTwo-thirds paid less than $200,000;
90% paid cash
Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, Fort Lauderdale, Naples-Marco Island48% condo;
38% single family
78% paid cash
Miami-Miami Beach,
Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Kissimmee
61% condo;
21% single family
74% paid cash
Orlando-Kissimmee, Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, Palm Beach70% single family; 24% condo
82% paid cash
Miami-Miami Beach, Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice Cape Coral-Fort Myers52% single family; 34% condo
Latin American (except Brazil
and Venezuela)
paid cash Miami-Miami Beach,
Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Kissimmee
50% condo;
24% single family
*Doesn’t include townhouses, commercial property and other properties Source: National Association of Realtors

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