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Florida’s 2018 profile of international real estate activity

ORLANDO, Fla. – Oct. 22, 2018 – Florida Realtors® has released its latest report on the state's foreign buyer and seller transactions, the 2018 Profile of International Residential Real Estate Activity. The one year-report – from August 2017 through July 2018 – found a small slowdown in international activity within the state, due mainly to a tight home inventory and rising property values.

In many areas, foreign buyers compete with U.S. buyers for the same properties, and solid U.S. employment growth boosted the domestic competition. In addition, mortgage rates remain relatively low compared to historic values, and the large supply of buyers, both foreign and domestic, had to compete for a relatively small number of homes for sale.

A stronger U.S. dollar also made Florida homes more expensive for foreign buyers from selected countries, notably Venezuela and Brazil. When asked about challenges faced by their international clients, Realtors surveyed said top objections included "Cost of property," "could not find property," and "exchange rate."

South Florida remains the preferred location for international business. While foreign buyers purchased property across the state, most foreign buyers were concentrated in five metropolitan areas:

  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach (54 percent)
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (9 percent)
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (9 percent)
  • North Point-Sarasota-Bradenton (5 percent)
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers (5 percent)

Size of Florida's international market, 2017-2018

  • Foreign buyers purchased $22.9 billion of Florida's existing detached single-family, townhomes and condominiums – a five percent year-to-year decline from $24.2 billion.
  • In dollar value, foreign buyers made up 19 percent of the market (21 percent in 2017).
  • In number of sales, foreign buyers purchased 52,000 of Florida's existing homes – a 15 percent year-to-year decrease (61,300 one year earlier)
  • As a percentage of all sales, foreign buyers made up 13 percent in the latest report – 15 percent in the year before.
  • Average cost of foreign-purchased home: $286,500 compared to $259,400 in 2017, or about a 10 percent increase.
  • Overall, foreign buyers paid about 20 percent more that the median price of a Florida home.

Characteristics of Florida's foreign buyers

  • 68 percent primarily reside in another country; the rest are recent immigrants (less than two years in the U.S.) or visa holders.
  • Latin American and Caribbean buyers accounted for 36 percent of Florida foreign buyers, followed by Canadians (22 percent), Europeans (19 percent) and Asians (11 percent).
  • Most foreign buyers – 67 percent – made an all-cash purchase (72 percent in 2017).
  • 71 percent purchased residential property for vacation, residential rental or both (68 percent in 2017).
  • Slightly more than half of foreign buyers preferred townhouses or condominium (53 percent), while 43 percent purchased a detached single-family home, 3 percent purchased residential land and another 3 percent purchased other types of properties.
  • Nearly half of foreign buyers purchased in a suburban or small town/rural area.
  • 93 percent visited Florida at least once before purchasing a property.

International clients role in Realtors' businesses

  • In 2018, 41 percent of Florida's Realtors worked with an international client; in 2017, however, 44 percent did.
  • In 2018, 23 percent of Realtors reported an increase in their international business; in 2017, it was 26 percent.
  • Only 30 percent of Florida's Realtors reported an increase in their business that is international in the past five years (33 percent in 2017).
  • Only 34 percent expect an increase in their international transactions in the next 12 months – it was 37 percent in 2017.
  • 35 percent of respondents said that their client found Florida's home prices less expensive than the prices in their home country– a decrease from 41 percent in 2017.
  • 68 of foreign clients were referrals for a Realtor – personal or business contacts or former clients.
  • 60 percent of Realtors reported no significant issues working with international clients.
  • Of the Realtors surveyed, 75 percent were born in the United States, and 34 percent were fluent in a language other than English.







International Investing...

[1]RISMEDIA, May 20, 2011—The U.S. continues to remain a top destination for foreign buyers as international purchases surged by $16 billion this year, one of the highest increases in recent years. This is according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2011 Profile of International Home Buying Activity.

According to the survey, total residential international sales in the U.S. for the past year ending March 2011 equaled $82 billion, up from $66 billion in 2010. Total international sales were split evenly between non-resident foreigners and recent immigrants, while combined total domestic and international existing-home sales in the U.S. were $1.07 trillion.

“The U.S. has always been a desirable place to own property and a profitable investment,” says NAR President Ron Phipps. “In recent years we have seen more and more foreign buyers coming here to take advantage of low prices and plentiful inventory.

In addition to the advantageous market conditions, REALTORS® in this country have a global perspective and experience in working with clients from different cultures and real estate practices, helping them bring value to their international clients.”

Historically, foreign buyers have been attracted to property ownership in the U.S. for a number of reasons. U.S. homes are generally less expensive than comparable foreign properties, homes in this country are viewed as a secure investment, and the U.S. market offers rental opportunities and long-term appreciation potential.

More recently, REALTORS® have noticed new factors motivating foreign buyers.

Many U.S. colleges and universities have a significant number of international students, and some foreign families are purchasing U.S. properties in college areas so their child has a place to live. Another source of international demand is foreign executives temporarily working in the U.S., some of whom prefer to purchase a residence instead of renting.

“Besides the strength of the dollar and the general economic trends in the U.S., international buyers are also recognizing the benefits of homeownership in this country, especially in the case of recent immigrants,” says Phipps. “Many foreigners perceive owning a home here as an important accomplishment in their efforts to become established in this country.”

Recent international buyers came from 70 different countries, up from 53 countries in 2010. For the fourth consecutive year, Canada was the top country of origin, with 23 percent of sales to foreigners. China was the second most popular country of origin, with nine percent of international sales this year. Tied for third were Mexico, the U.K., and India. Argentina and Brazil combined reported an increase in foreign sales with five percent, up from two percent in 2010. The top five countries of origin accounted for 53 percent of international transactions in 2011.

The average price paid by an international buyer was $315,000 compared to the overall U.S. average of $218,000. However, 45 percent of international purchases were under $200,000. This price segment has grown significantly over the years, most likely due to overall price declines in the U.S. as well as the strengthening of some foreign currencies.

Almost every state had at least one international transaction in the past year. The four states with the heaviest concentration of international buyer activity have remained the same over the past five years. Florida had 31 percent of total international transactions this year, the most of any state. California had 12 percent, Texas had nine percent, and Arizona rounded out the top four with six percent of international transactions.

Foreign buyers are primarily interested in three factors when deciding where to buy in the U.S.: proximity to their home country; convenience of air transportation; and climate and location. Generally, the East Coast attracts European buyers. The West Coast remains popular for Asian purchasers.

Mexican buyers are traditionally attracted to the Southwestern markets.

Florida is most popular among South Americans, Europeans and Canadians.

Similar to last year, 28 percent of REALTORS® in 2011 reported working with an international client. Fifty-five percent served at least one foreign client, while the bulk of international transactions were handled by a small percentage of REALTORS®. Only eight percent of members obtained 50 percent or more of their transactions from international clients.

Sixty-one percent of foreign buyers purchased a single-family home while 36 percent bought a condo/apartment or townhouse. In addition, 62 percent of international purchases were reported as being all cash. This percentage is significantly higher than all-cash purchases for domestic buyers, mostly due to the differences in international credit reporting standards. Financing challenges continue to be a major hurdle for international buyers, with 32 percent reporting these as their reason for not buying a home. Many REALTORS® reported that their foreign clients faced mortgage financing issues, as well as problems with legal, tax and immigration laws.

The National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.



International buyers confident of Fla. recovery

MIAMI – June 15, 2009 – Gerson Lehman Group reports that international realty buyers believe the Florida housing market is poised for recovery, and they are paying close attention to distressed properties in the state. The report says these international buyers view homes in the United States as “desirable, profitable and secure” investments.

“Those who delay buying their dream home in Florida may soon find that they have to pay considerably more for the same property in just a few months,” advises the report’s author, Howard Liggett, president of Distressed Real Estate Consulting Services.

Liggett cites data from the National Association of Realtors® and the Florida Association of Realtors® indicating that 25 percent of international buyers are Canadian, 21 percent are British, and 21 percent are western European.


Regional Spotlight: Florida Is More than Beaches
RISMEDIA, Jan. 23, 2008-With its cosmopolitan cities, world-class beaches, golf, boating and sports, Florida offers an attractive lifestyle to buyers from around the world.

Beacon Hill FL“As a major vacation location, Florida will continue to draw families of all ages, with a particular appeal to the retiring Baby Boomer generation,” said Donna Cloman, broker-associate with ERA Menu Realty in Port Orange.

The state’s strong economy is another positive factor for Florida’s residential market. New job creation remains well above the national average, especially in sectors like professional services, leisure and hospitality, healthcare, trade and education.

And with abundant inventory of homes for sale, readily affordable mortgage rates and lower prices than in many other U.S. coastal locations, Florida also offers an excellent financial value, according to Alison Anderson, broker- associate with Amerivest Realty in Naples.

“I have lived in five other states and find Florida to provide an excellent quality of life for my money,” said Anderson. “Compared with other parts of the country, Florida is still a bargain.”

The Forgotten Coast of FloridaMany buyers from outside the U.S. — including Europe and the Pacific Rim — benefit from the weaker U.S. dollar. That multiplies the purchasing power from buyers paying in euros, yen or the British pound. Buyers from Latin America and Europe also appreciate the relatively low costs of Florida property compared with similar homes in their countries.

“People all over the world envy the Florida lifestyle,” said Michelle Cremata, sales associate with Coldwell Banker in Coral Gables. “Our fantastic climate, sandy beaches and tremendous economic opportunities are just a few of the reasons people the world over are attracted to living here. More than any other state, Florida is known for its diverse population and its ability to attract new people.”

In fact, a 2007 survey by the National Association of Realtors(R) (NAR) found that Florida led the nation in foreign home buying, accounting for 26% of all international purchasers. California was next at 16%, followed by Texas at 10%.

Gulf Coast FL Real EstateThe 2007 NAR Profile of International Home Buying Activity, which covered buying patterns from April 2006 to April 2007, noted that U.S. real estate is still considered a prime investment opportunity for foreign buyers and a “safe haven” in which to put their money.

For U.S. buyers, one of Florida’s financial attractions is not having a state income tax. That provides an extra boost to residents’ net income. In addition, qualifying residents benefit from the state’s homestead exemption, which reduces local property taxes.

“Having moved here from Pittsburgh in 1972, I know that Florida stands out as a superior place to live,” said Lynn Robbins, sales associate with Coldwell Banker in Sarasota. “One of our strongest assets is a relaxed and healthy lifestyle that is envied by most people who don’t live in Florida. And our overall tax burden is lower than many other states as well.”


Florida Leads Nation in International Buyers
ORLANDO, Fla., November 2007 – 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 like our state’s location as a convenient point of entry to the U.S. from Europe and South America,” said Alicia Cervera, chairman and CEO, Related Cervera Real Estate Services in Miami. “Our warm weather, recreational and cultural offerings are also very compelling. This is a very welcoming state to everyone, regardless of background.”

A mid-2007 survey by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) found that Florida led the nation in foreign home buying, accounting for 26 percent of all international purchasers. California was next at 16 percent, followed by Texas at 10 percent.

The 2007 NAR Profile of International Home Buying Activity, which covered buying patterns from April 2006 to April 2007, noted that U.S. real estate is still considered a prime investment opportunity for foreign buyers and a “safe haven” for their money.

“Whether they 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,” the report said. “It is likely they will continue to do so.”

Homes Along Florida's Forgotten CoastOne of the key reasons is a weaker U.S. dollar against major foreign currencies, including the euro and the British pound. That gives foreign buyers more purchasing power in the Florida market.

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

Florida is also one of the most international U.S. states with easy accessibility, thanks to 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 2005 FAR survey found clear patterns among international buyers, who accounted for 15 percent of total home sales in the state in the prior year. British homebuyers – the largest single component of the international buyers’ market in 2005 – strongly favored the Orlando market, followed by Naples-Fort Myers and Tampa-St. Petersburg.

Florida's Forgotten CoastAbout one-third of foreign buyers that year were from Latin America. Miami-Fort Lauderdale was the favored destination for buyers from Venezuela – the largest Latin market – followed by Orlando and West Palm Beach.

“In South Florida, we’ve assisted many high-end purchasers from Venezuela, Mexico and Argentina,” said Cervera. “We see Europe as an increasing player in the statewide market.”


Who Are Today's Million-Dollar Homeowners?
According to the 2006 Coldwell Banker Previews International survey, they are smart savers and savvy shoppers

RISMEDIA, June 6, 2006—Do you ever wonder who is living within the walls of the luxury homes that dot so many communities? According to the 2006 Coldwell Banker Previews International(R) Luxury Survey, today's million-dollar homeowners live in nice homes complete with entertainment rooms, designer kitchens and wine cellars, and have very diversified investment portfolios. They are typically younger Baby Boomers who work for a corporation, and many have a household income of less than $500,000.

Forgotten Coast of Florida Real EstateThe Coldwell Banker Previews International Luxury Survey is a survey of 300 U.S. homeowners whose primary residence is valued at over $1 million ($2 million for California residents*). The survey was conducted via a series of phone interviews by independent market research firm International Communications Research (ICR) based in Media, Pa., in March and April of 2006 and commissioned by Coldwell Banker Previews International, the exclusive Coldwell Banker(R) service dedicated to luxury real estate. In 2005, Coldwell Banker sold $55.9 billion worth of homes valued at $1 million or more.

"Key findings from the 2006 Luxury Survey indicate that the typical million-dollar homeowner likes to live well, but they are not living an ultra- lavish lifestyle," says Jim Gillespie, president and CEO, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation. "We did not find huge numbers of these consumers having amenities like heated floors (14 percent), tennis courts (4 percent), or backyard putting greens (5 percent)."

More than one-third (35 percent) surveyed own second homes. Another 35 percent of respondents indicated that they are considering buying an investment property, and/or a secondary residence for family use. "What that tells us is that they understand that real estate remains a solid, long-term investment, and one that they can enjoy," Gillespie continues.

The Primary Residence - A Comfortable Nest
Eating well and high tech entertainment are important to the million-dollar homeowner.

Find Your Dream Home Along Florida's Forgotten Coast!Sixty-five (65) percent of respondents already have a designer kitchen, and 37 percent already have, or are considering adding, a wine cellar to their homes. The results suggest that the comforts of home are very important. Fifty-nine (59) percent noted they have a room in their homes devoted exclusively to entertainment. And in those rooms, 89 percent said that they can accommodate more than six people, with 84 percent indicating that they have either a big screen HDTV (50+ inches) or media systems such as DVD players and surround sound system. Fifty-seven (57) percent have a wet bar and 24 percent have movie-theater style seating in their entertainment rooms. Also, fifty-four (54) percent of respondents already own, or plan to buy, original artwork.

The following represent popular amenities found in million-dollar homes:

Security system-86%
Professional landscaping-67%
Designer kitchen-65%
In-ground swimming pool-37%
Hot tub-35%

The Second Property - An Escape

Investment Opportunities Abound Along Florida's Forgotten Coast!For those who own second homes, and even those considering purchasing second homes, the preferred locales suggest these homebuyers are interested in rest and relaxation. Of the 35 percent of respondents who own a second home, 55 percent of them are in recreation areas, including the beach/oceanfront (32 percent), lake front (11 percent) or in ski resorts/mountain areas (11 percent). The same is true for those who would consider buying a second home. Forty-two (42) percent would select beach / oceanfront locations, with 14 percent opting for ski areas/mountains, and 12 percent on the lake.

"Interestingly, these consumers are not necessarily looking to retire to these second properties just yet, as 32 percent of those polled do not plan to retire until they are 65 or older, and 14 percent saying they plan to retire between the ages of 60 and 64," Gillespie continues. When that time comes, respondents look forward to traveling domestically (42 percent) and internationally (46 percent).

Enjoying Leisure Time

While the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates recently, 70 percent indicated that the hikes will have no impact on their planned luxury purchases. A telling example comes when looking at the high-end activities the respondents enjoyed in the past 12 months.

Development Opportunities Along Florida's Forgotten CoastSixty-two (62) percent visited a high-end resort/spa; 43 percent went on an active vacation such as a ski trip, bike or hiking trip; 28 percent traveled for more than three weeks internationally, with another 25 percent spending the same amount of time traveling domestically. Eighteen (18) percent of those surveyed have flown on a private plane over the last year and 9 percent went on an extreme vacation or adventure vacation, such as an African safari.

A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned

"In reality, the million-dollar homeowner lifestyle is not what you see in the movies," adds Gillespie. Only 5 percent of those surveyed employ a personal assistant, 4 percent have a live-in housekeeper and 1 percent have a driver.

"To me, one of the most interesting findings of our survey is how these million-dollar homeowners approach investing. When it comes to planning for retirement, 84 percent described themselves as moderate- to low-risk investors," Gillespie notes. When asked where the majority of their retirement holdings are, the responses were:

Individual stocks-29%
Mutual funds-23%
Real estate-19%
Mixed portfolio (including real estate)-14%
Mixed portfolio (excluding real estate)-11%
Pension funds-1%

The responses align with what the 33 percent of respondents who expect a tax refund plan to do with their money. Of those, this year, 39 percent plan to invest their tax refunds in their homes. Twenty-nine (29) percent plan to save it, and 12 percent plan to invest it in stocks, bonds or mutual funds.

Gillespie also pointed out that, according to the study, 43 percent of luxury homeowners made more than $500,000. "We also found that 41 percent cited their household income as between $200,000 - $500,000. Because of smart investments, equity in their homes, and, in some cases, inheritances, luxury properties have become attainable for many Americans."

As to where they shop, along with such expected names as Nordstrom (34 percent), Neiman Marcus (17 percent) and Saks Fifth Avenue (10 percent), such mall staples as Macy's, Lord & Taylor, Talbots and Pottery Barn also made the list.

* The survey questioned owners of homes valued at $2 million and up in the state of California. This was done because, according to the California Association of Realtors, the median home price in the state is $562,380, compared with the national median home price of $223,000 (as of April 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University, "Million-Dollar" Homes and Wealth in the United States study in January 2004 reported from the 2000 Census that 2.3 percent of single-family owner occupied housing stock worth $1 million or more, representing over 40 percent of all the units in the state, falls into this "million-dollar" housing category.



Florida Homes Have Increasing International Appeal
RISMEDIA, July 15 – International buyers are major players in the Florida residential real estate market, accounting for 15 percent of total home sales, according to a new joint study conducted for the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Live your dream!For a long time, anecdotal evidence from Realtors has suggested that international buyers play a sizable role in Florida home sales, but this study marks the first attempt to quantify the trend, according to FAR.

Of the 986 Realtors who participated in the 2005 Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida survey, 87 percent reported that they did at least one home sale transaction with international buyers in the previous 12 months (between May 2004 and May 2005). Two thirds -- 66 percent -- of those Realtors who brokered foreign-buyer purchases said that one to four of all their transactions were with international clients. Altogether, the Realtors surveyed closed 1,844 home sale transactions to non-U.S. buyers.

Highlights of the survey findings include:

  • Most buyers chose South Florida, Central Florida or the Gulf Coast. Almost one third (30.4 percent) bought a home in Miami-Fort Lauderdale, followed by Orlando (22.7 percent), Naples-Fort Myers (13.7 percent), Tampa- St. Petersburg (9.9 percent), Sarasota (9.9 percent) and West Palm Beach (5.8 percent). Only 7.6 percent of foreign buyers bought homes elsewhere in the state.
  • Florida's international homebuyers came from more than 100 countries in all areas of the world, but Europeans bought the majority of Florida homes -- 58 percent -- with more than half those European buyers from a single country, the United Kingdom.
  • The United Kingdom alone accounted for one third of all international home purchases. 
  • One-third of international buyers were from South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
  • Over one third -- 36 percent -- of international buyers paid cash for their home compared to only 10 percent of all Florida homebuyers. 
  • For foreign buyers, an almost equal share purchased their Florida homes to use as a vacation home (38 percent) or as an investment (37 percent). Only 17 percent purchased a home to live in while traveling to the U.S. on business.


Homes Along The Forgotten Coast of FloridaNon-U.S. residents purchased homes for many different reasons, according to the study: U.S. mortgage interest rates are low, many can get "more house for the money" here, the U.S. is seen as politically stable, airfares are generally affordable, and the "rise" of the Euro has spurred travel to the U.S. In addition, foreign baby-boomers -- like their American counterparts -- are looking for ways to maximize their return on investments.

For the survey, FAR defined a foreign homebuyer as someone who principally resides in another country (outside the U.S.), and is not classified as a foreign-born resident of the U.S. International buyers are not U.S. citizens (either naturalized or native-born and living outside the U.S.), a U.S. immigrant, or a foreign student or worker on a temporary visa.

To discuss the opportunities that are abound along The Forgotten Coast of Florida, call me at 850.648.3000 or fill out the form below to contact us online!


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To:  Carol Erwin