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Foreigners Dominate Florida Property Market

December 30, 2009Article by Ray Withers

Foreign buyers are currently making up most of the sale in the Florida property market, according to realtors, who also say that foreigners will be needed to kick-start a recovery in the market.

This is because there is still a lot of fear over unemployment in Florida, which is putting Floridians off buying homes. This presents an excellent opportunity for foreigners to get in now and buy discounted and distressed Florida property, to be rented-out in the short-term, and then optionally sold for a good price when the market has fully recovered and Floridians are competing with increased numbers of foreign buyers in a normalised marketplace.

‘Most economists think the recession is over, but people are afraid to spend money as unemployment keeps going up which creates problems for every sector of the real estate market,’ said Timothy Becker, director of UF’s Bergstrom Centre for Real Estate Studies.

“Some 60% of our buyers are foreign yet they can’t always get loans,” said Joe Milton, president and chief executive of J. Milton Associates, who has just put up $100million for loans to foreigners. He added that foreign real estate investors are vital to a recovery in the market and he has seen a surge of interest in his company’s luxury condominiums in Sunny Isles Beach.

Mike Lapointe, vice president of Baybridge Capital Advisors in Miami said:

“International buyers are activating this market and re-activating sales. The Swiss, Spanish and groups from Italy and England who already own some stuff down here are seeing it as a good time to buy.”
Latin Americans are also keen on buying according to Jenny Huertes of Bal Harbour based Condo Vultures who has been undertaking seminars in South American countries. Hardly surprising given that Florida property is now cheaper than that of many South American cities, including Buenos Aires, Mexico City and parts of Brazil.

South Florida is the most popular location with foreign buyers, in particular Brits, Western Europeans and Canadians, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

According to UK based international property investment consultancy Property Frontiers the most popular places among British buyers will always be Orlando, especially in and around Disney world, and Tampa, because they are both well known and extremely popular with British tourists.

“Yes, Florida is currently a gold-mine when it comes to property investment, and the number of people catching on to this is growing. But we are also seeing a lot of people taking the opportunity to buy then holiday home they have always dreamed of but could never afford,” said Ray Withers, director of the firm.


Ray Withers

Ray has over 17 years’ experience in the international property market and bought his own first international property investment back in 2002. Aside from running Property Frontiers, Ray has been involved in residential, hotel, student and commercial property investment and development in both the UK and overseas and co-wrote "Where to Buy Property Abroad - An Investor's Guide". As Founder and Trustee of the Frontiers Foundation, Ray is directly involved with many of its projects to ensure they have a direct and tangible impact in individual communities across the globe. He is passionate about property, travelling, scouting out new opportunities and finding time to spend with his young family.
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