International buyers love Florida real estate

In real estate on May 22, 2009 at 4:57 pm

From the United Kingdom to Canada, Mexico and Argentina, foreign buyers love Florida real estate. And by purchasing luxury vacation homes, mid-priced primary residences and commercial properties, they provide a strong, steady flow of investment throughout the state.

“Foreign buyers prefer Florida’s location in part because of how it serves as a nimble point of entry to the U.S. from the Caribbean, Europe and South America,” says Wenceslao Fernandez Jr, Realtor-Associate at Keller Williams Miami beach Realty. “Our beaches and tourist attractions in South and Central Florida, warm weather, and cultural diversity are also very strong factors attracting visitors. With no State Tax, Florida also becomes a great way for citizens from other states to be in the USA and have everything they know, while saving money.”

A 2008 survey by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) found that Florida led the nation in foreign home buying, accounting for 25.4 percent of all international purchasers.  California was next at 8.9 percent, followed by Arizona at 8.7 percent and Texas at 6.8 percent. As the report said, “These are major gateways into the U.S. In addition, the climate in most areas of the top four states is relatively mild, certainly compared with that of Canada and most European countries.”

The 2008 NAR Profile of International Home Buying Activity, which covered buying patterns from May 2007 to May 2008, states that Florida was the top choice for buyers from Europe, North America and Latin America and behind only California as a preferred destination for Asian buyers.

The median price foreign buyers paid for a home was $297,400 – well above the 2007 national median sales price of $217,900. A long-term decline in the value of the dollar when compared with European and Canadian currencies – combined with lower home prices – means that the true cost for a U.S. property is actually less in foreign monetary terms than in previous years.

“Compared to home prices in other countries such as Spain, the United Kingdom and Ireland, real estate in Florida remains highly affordable,” says Vani Ungapen, director of international operations and research, for the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR), in Tallahassee.

Florida has 31 major airports and 14 deepwater seaports, she added. That supports international tourism, as more than 4 million visitors from 100-plus countries visit Florida in a year according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

A recent FAR survey found clear patterns among international buyers. For example, buyers from the United Kingdom (UK) favored the Orlando market, German buyers are often found in Naples-Fort Myers and Latin Americans typically choose properties in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. “In South Florida, we continue to see many high-end buyers from Colombia, Venezuela, and Mexico, among others” said Fernandez.

Summing up the opportunity for real estate professionals, the NAR report stated: “More and more people in different nations recognize the value of owning U.S, property. Whether international purchasers use their U.S. home as rental/investment property, as a vacation home or both, non-U.S. residents account for a significant share of home buying activity.”


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