The Real Deal Miami

Long enamored of Miami condos, Brazilians now look to single-family homes

By Alexander Britell | February 21, 2012 10:30AM

A home for sale in Miami Beach

Miami’s downtown skyline may not have been built by Brazilians (the same cannot be said for the next wave of projects) — but it would not have the same bustle were it not for cash buyers from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro looking for condominium bargains.

But while many Brazilians continue to look at Miami condo towers, a number of them have now shifted their focus to single-family homes in areas like Miami Beach and the Venetian Islands.

“I think what happened was, it was almost as if they were putting their toe in the water before they were jumping in,” said Coldwell Banker Realtor Danny Hertzberg.

Now, he said, Brazilian buyers are increasingly asking about the single-family market, as they look to move up from part-time vacation units or rental investment properties — and making purchases.

According to Miami Association of Realtors data from the fall, the majority of Brazilian residential buyers, or about 53 percent, were purchasing condos or apartments in Florida as opposed to single-family homes – but brokers say the condo-only attitude is beginning to change.

In fact, it’s many of the same buyers who once looked to condos that are now adding to their Miami portfolios.

According to Evie Cardenas, an associate with EWM in Miami, many Brazilians looking for single-family homes are targeting areas like Miami Beach, but also extending their reach further south to areas like Pinecrest and Coral Gables.

“The value in Miami looks very affordable for them,” she said.

“I wouldn’t say there’s been a total shift,” said Sonia Gherardi, an associate with One Sotheby’s in Coral Gables. “Because the [buyers] I have been working with are looking for the ultra-luxury [single-family] homes on the islands in Miami Beach. But overall they want the waterfront, South Beach, Brickell, anything that’s waterfront,” whether single-family or condo.

Last year, The Real Deal reported on the new movement of businesspersons from Latin America looking not just to buy condos, but to open up offices in Miami.

More and more Brazilian homebuyers can be counted among that class, and are now looking to create permanent home bases in Florida, Hertzberg said.

“A lot of the single-family home purchasers previously owned a condo here, and they’re stepping up from it,” he said. “Now they’re asking us how the schools are, because they may move here and spend six months here; I think that’s a very positive sign.”