Foreign investors propel sales in national vacation spots

July 06, 2011 03:33PM

Foreign buyers are propelling home sales in U.S. vacation spots hit hard by the economic downturn, USA Today reported. South Florida is a prime example, with 31 percent of the region’s sales attributed to foreign buyers in the year ending March, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.

Foreign buyers are attracted by low U.S. home prices, which are down 30 percent since 2006, and how their currency holds up against the weakened dollar. The Canadian dollar, for example, has jumped 18 percent against the U.S. dollar, while the euro gained 22 percent, according to data tracker Oanda.

“International buyers have been the fuel for the Miami recovery,” said Ronald Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors in Coral Gables, Fla. In downtown Miami, South American investors are sweeping up condominiums which they then rent out.

As previously reported, though Mexican businesses are focused on cities like Houston and San Diego, an increasing number are looking to Miami. “Miami is very important for us because we see it as the gateway to the United States for Latin America and Europe,” said Mario Alonso of East Coast Opportunity Group. “It’s probably the second or third-most important financial center in the United States. A lot of foreign money is coming.”

As The Real Deal previously reported, Patricia Fitzgerald, president of trade group Florida Realtors, also accompanied Governor Rick Scott to Canada last month in an attempt to convince investors to come to Florida. [USA Today]