The Real Deal Miami

Foreign buyers keep Miami residential market afloat

Miami realtors venture to Brazil to draw buyers to the Sunshine State 
By Alexander Britell | November 10, 2010 10:30AM

International buyers, especially from Latin American countries like Brazil, continue to drive Miami’s residential market.

Miami-Dade County saw another positive month in October, as pending home sales, including single-family homes and condominiums, increased 23.6 percent compared to October 2009, according to data from the Miami Association of Realtors.

There were 10,264 pending home sales last month, up from 8,304 in October 2009. A number of last month’s sales were driven by foreign buyers, especially from Brazil.

“The Brazilian market is the top foreign market from which we are seeing interest in Miami,” said Edgardo DeFortuna, president of Fortune International Realty, which is the exclusive agent for Icon Brickell in Miami.

This Brazilian interest, is led in part by the fact that high-end residential properties in Miami and Miami Beach come at a significant discount from similar spaces in Brazilian cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, along with obvious draws like the proximity to Latin America and South Florida’s weather.

“In Brazil today, the product today is more expensive than in Miami,” DeFortuna said. “[Brazilians] just can’t believe the places in Sao Paolo or Rio are more expensive than Miami, where the quality is sometimes 10 times superior.”

Now, Miami realtors are heading south to harvest these buyers. Firms are now making the trip to Brazil to market Miami real estate, even attending real estate fairs and forming alliances with companies there to help move units.

“We really try to make partnerships in different Brazilian cities, with local people and brokers that are motivated and understand about Miami,” said DeFortuna, who had just returned from a real estate fair in Rio de Janeiro.

These real estate fairs showcase expos and offer time to meet informally with local brokers. Some cities, like Belo Horizonte, where American Airlines just began a direct flight from Miami, have seen big increases in interest.

“Brazilian buyers seem to be coming [to Miami],” said Nelson Gonzalez, senior vice president at Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell. “Their economy is doing fantastic, and they’re starting to come here — they’re everywhere [in South Florida].”
Gonzalez said he was seeing the most foreign interest from Brazilians and Venezuelans, for two different reasons. Venezuelans were leaving to get away from the rigid laws of President Hugo Chavez, while Brazilians were coming here because economy there is very good and they have money to spend.

“They happen to like Miami Beach because it reminds them most of Brazil and there’s so much water, and it’s also metropolitan city. I know they’ve been looking at Capri and I know they’ve bought in Apogee, mostly in condos. I’ve seen them a lot more in condos than I have in single-family homes.”

Accordingly, the number of condo sales jumped in October as well, up 34 percent year-over-year, to 5,878 units from 4,385, according to the association’s data.

Gonzalez is working with Fort Capital’s Nadim Achi on selling Capri, a development in South Beach on Biscayne Bay.

Developer Gil Dezer set up an alliance with a Brazilian furniture firm, Artefacto, to set up kiosks with information about his Trump Towers properties in Sunny Isles Beach in each of Artefacto’s 16 offices in Brazil.

Broker Cristiano Piquet, who partnered with Dezer on the Artefacto initiative, said just about 99 percent of the condos he sold over $1 million was going to Brazilian buyers.