International Buyers Racing to Buy in Florida

Baltus-House_3According to RealtyTrac, a housing market firm, foreign buyer interest in the U.S. has at least doubled from nine countries. Political, economic and policy changes are impacting global demand for Florida real estate. Global demand patterns vary based on factors like currency exchange rates, as well as visas and tax regulations that affect international investors. Florida sunshine, beaches, flight connections and property prices make it an attractive destination for foreign buyers and investors. Florida ranks third behind California and New York in U.S. International sales.  The three biggest foreign buyers in the United States are Canada, Europe and South America. More recently there has been growing interest from China. New changes in U.S. visa policies now allow Chinese citizens to obtain business and tourist visas for up to 10 years in the U.S. rather than just one.  For a long time, Chinese buyers were drawn to California and Arizona. Now, Chinese buyers are discovering Florida. The majority of Chinese investors have been interested in rental properties that provide cash returns as Florida is too far from China for most lifestyle purchases. However, activity continues as Chinese families are purchasing family homes where they spend three to six month annually. There has been an uptick in buyers from Singapore. The demand from South America is tied to the changing political and economic profiles of Latin American countries. For instance, Venezuela has long been one of Florida’s top international feeder markets. The failing oil prices has had a negative impact on the Venezuelan economy coupled with political uncertainty. Brazilian buyers are attracted to Florida because of the uncertain future of their nation’s economy. Elsewhere in Latin America demand has increased from buyers in Chile, Peru and Columbia who are seeking to move some of their assets to the U.S. The majority of sales to Latin buyers are typically all-cash deals. Buyers are also coming from Russia, India, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Affluent investors in these countries are nervous about conditions in their home lands look to Florida as a safe haven for their assets.

% Growth in Buyers  by Top Ten Countries:

1. United Arab Emirates 350%
2. Switzerland 270%
3. Hong Kong and China 255%
4. France 190%
5. Italy 180%
6. United Kingdom 150%
7. Australia 120%
8. Canada 105%
9. Sweden 100%
10. Germany 95%

Changes in the U.K.’s pension regulations will allow retirees to take out a lump sum in 2015.