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Nearly 25% of all Foreign Buyers choose Florida

I knew it…Here is more proof. Florida remains the dream place for many foreigners, and not only Latin Americans….



International buyers have helped buttress Florida’s real estate market with 22 percent of all foreign clients nationally choosing property in the Sunshine State.

That makes Florida tops for attracting foreign interest, according to a summer report by the National Association of Realtors. California came in a far second with 12 percent of the international market.

While Florida’s share of foreign clients has slipped from a recent high of more than 26 percent in 2008, bargain basement prices and a weakened dollar have continued to lure Canadian and overseas buyers.

The study, which looked at sales between March 2009 and March 2010, found that buyers with permanent residences outside the United States spent an estimated $41 billion on residential property nationally during the period of the study — that’s 4 percent of the total residential market during the same time.

“I had an open house in the mid-$500,000s and a man from Canada came and bought it the same day,” said Palm Beach Gardens Realtor Jeff Lichtenstein, who has a page on his website dedicated to foreign buyers. “Once they’re here, they tend to bring friends.”

And family.

Amsterdam native Annette Aalberts bought two Jupiter homes for herself and her daughter over the past few years. Combined, the homes are worth about $4.5 million.

But most international buyers don’t aim that high. According to the study, the median price paid by foreign buyers nationally is $219,400.

Statewide statistics gathered by the national association showed 31 percent of Florida’s international buyers are Canadian, compared to 24 percent nationally.

Nationally, about 55 percent of foreign buyers pay with cash, possibly because it can be harder for international clients to get financing here. In Florida, about 82 percent of international buyers paid in cash.

Ignacio Recondo, a realty associate with Fortune International and a native of Argentina, has sold a handful of condos recently to international buyers, many of them from Argentina.

“A lot of the Europeans from Italy, Spain — they like Miami,” he said. “They want to have a piece of it.”

Recondo recently sold a 1-bedroom condo at the ICON Brickell to a buyer for Argentina for $303,000. The buyer plans to rent out the unit in order to generate income, Recondo said, highlighting the sale as an example of an international buyer being drawn to the relative stability of the U.S. economy, and the potential for strong returns available in South Florida.

“International buyers are hugely important in absorbing inventory,” said Jenny Huertas, international sales director for the Miami-based consultant firm Condo Vultures.

Huertas estimates 30 percent of sales in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are to international buyers.

It’s unclear how a recent dip in the euro may temper overseas purchases. It’s now worth $1.28, compared with a high of $1.60 in 2008. That means to buy a $500,000 house, it would cost about 388,709 euros.

But the Canadian dollar, which has traditionally been weaker than U.S. currency, is now near parity at 95 cents.

Toronto resident Domenic Triumbari bought two properties in the Palm Beach Grande condominium complex in March. The suburban West Palm Beach homes sold for $164,990 and $179,990 in 2006.

Triumbari picked them up for $60,000 each, paying in cash, and without ever seeing them in person.

“I know they’re in West Palm Beach, but not exactly sure where,” said Triumbari, who is renting the homes. “The numbers make sense right now. You can make money on your investment.”

Triumbari is also searching for a South Florida home for himself. “I’ve seen a lot of the Caribbean, been all over the islands, but I like Florida,” he said. “We speak the same language, eat the same foods.”

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