Florida again is the top market for foreign buyers of U.S. residential real estate, with the state’s share at 22 percent. The North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metropolitan statistical area ranked fifth for foreign buyers among Sunshine State markets.
The dollar amount of that international investment in home and condominium purchases continues to skyrocket, rising in the 12 months ending in July 2017 at $24.2 billion, some $5 billion more than the previous year, according to a report from the Florida Realtors trade group.
Within the state, the annual study put the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach statistical was in a very strong first place, with a 52.6 percent market share, up a half percentage point from last year.
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford was a distant second place at 10.8 percent, down from 11.5 percent year over year, according to the survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors for the state organization.
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton’s market share was 4.7 percent, 1.5 percentage points above last year. The Punta Gorda statistical area rose a smidgen to 1 percent, landing in 12th place, while The Villages, the huge master-planned community south of Ocala, was in 20th, stuck at 0.1 percent.
Foreign buyers purchased 61,300 residential properties, 15 percent of the overall Florida market. That compares with 47,000 and 12 percent the previous study period. Nationally, international buyers accounted for 5 percent of existing-home sales.
The Realtors report credits Latin American and Caribbean residents with the largest portion of Florida foreign buyers at 34 percent, down from 39 percent the previous year. Canadian buyers increased to 22 percent, from 19 percent in 2016. Other countries remained consistent year-to-year: Europeans were unchanged at 23 percent; Asians were 10 percent; and African buyers were 1 percent.
Of the total international buyers in North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, 37 percent hailed from Europe and 36 percent from Canada.
Roger Pettingell, a specialist in luxury waterfront properties and an associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, said his international business this year has “actually held fairly consistent,” with 2016 coming in at 10 percent and 2017 at 11 percent.
“Our overall international buyer profile began shrinking after 9/11 and took a serious decline following the recession in 2008,” he said. “We started to see natural rebuilding around 2012; after some of the international terrorist events, particularly in France, we saw some Europeans increase their travel/purchases.
Lynn Robbins, a Sarasota Realtor also associated with Coldwell Banker, estimated that 5 percent of her clients are foreign, mostly from Canada, with the United Kingdom second.
“They enjoy the condo or villa lifestyle where they do not have to worry about maintenance issues,” she said. “Another factor they enjoy is participating in the activities in these properties. They meet a lot of nice residents and form friendships which help to enhance their time here.”
The majority are cash buyers, Robbins said, a comment echoed by Jennifer Horvat, the chief marketing officer for Michael Saunders & Co. The Realtors study found that 72 percent of foreign buyers made all-cash purchases.
“The top countries continue to be Canada, although we have seen some decline of new buyers from Canada because of the unfavorable exchange rate, the U.K. and Germany,” Horvat said. “Then there is a smattering of buyers from other parts of Europe and Asia — but nothing in large numbers.”
The Michael Saunders firm targets the international market, Horvat said. “When Michael opened her doors 40 years ago, she followed the ‘tourist’ — starting on St. Armands Circle, then Siesta Key, then Longboat Key and so on. Our offices being in the center of tourist-rich areas is very purposeful to be a concierge for visitors until they are ready to buy.”