The Real Deal Miami

Foreigners still prefer Florida

By Jane C. Timm | August 07, 2008 05:12PM

The number of international real estate investors across the country has decreased, but Florida is still the top destination for international buyers, a report released today by the National Association of Realtors said. 
Florida topped the list with nearly 26 percent of all international buys in the U.S.

In the 2007 survey, 32 percent of all U.S. brokers surveyed had an international client. But in the 2008 survey, only 26 percent of brokers had international clients.

“Foreign buyers – like U.S. buyers – may be waiting for home prices to continue to decline in order to purchase a property at a lower price,” the report said. “Some foreign buyers may be reticent to invest in a U.S. property until they are assured that their investment will “pay off.”

Brokers surveyed said that the weak dollar was a big factor in foreign sales purchases, but noted other conditions like property taxes and immigration rules as contentious.

The top six countries of origin for foreign buyers were Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, China, India, and Germany. Nearly a quarter of all international buyers were Canadian, doubled from the previous year.
Canadian, Mexican, European and Latin American buyers all favored Florida as their top choice for U.S. purchases. Florida came in second for Asian buyers, who favored California above the Sunshine State.
Fewer Europeans were investing in U.S. real estate this year, the report shows, but more Canadians, Mexicans, and Africans were buying properties compared to last year’s survey.
Most international investors purchased single-family homes, though 19.2 percent of sales were apartments.
Nearly half of all international buys were in the South, while 30 percent were in the West.
International investors spent a median of about $300,000 on real estate investments. Buyers from China had the highest median of property sales at $450,000.
The 2007 survey used data from April 2006 to April 2007, while the 2008 survey used data from May 2007 to May 2008. The survey drew from about 4,000 responses from registered brokers.