Following fellow BRICs, Indian buyers look at Miami real estate

May.May 25, 2012 05:30 PM

With Asian firms and individuals beginning to target Miami’s residential real estate sector, the next wave of interest could come from India. While its fellow BRICS (the emerging economic powerhouses of Brazil, Russia, India and China) have all shown interest, with Brazilians almost single-handedly saving Miami’s condo market, brokers say Indian buyers are beginning to trickle in.

“I could count on one hand the number of Indian buyers I’d taken out to look at homes in the last four years,” said Danny Hertzberg, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker’s The Jills in Miami Beach. “But all of a sudden, they have their eye on Miami.”

Hertzberg said he had taken out several Indian buyers in the past few weeks, both those coming directly from India and some purchasers who have lived in the United States for a few years.

“One of the Indian buyers I took out told me his group was looking for vacation homes, and they fee like it’s a good time to get into Miami Beach,” he said.

But like Chinese investment, which was preceded by a long period of exploration — and not purchases — Indian buyers, buoyed by a booming economy, could be following a similar trend.

“Indian buyers have been here since prior to the crash,” said Condo Vultures founder Peter Zalewski. “But increasingly during the crash, they have been on the ground trying to pick stuff off.”

Like other Asian investors, the Indian strategy tends to be on a long-term scale, according to analyst Jack McCabe.

“I think the Indian and Asian investors just culturally take a lot longer to study a market or investment segment before they pull the trigger,” he said. “I think we’re just on the cusp [of more investment], on the cutting edge of it right now.”

Over the last five years, Indian residential purchasing nationwide has averaged around 9 percent of the US foreign market, rising from 5 percent in 2010 to 7 percent in 2011.

“Now, the booming economy in India has generally empowered people to start thinking of investment,” said Douglas Elliman Florida Realtor Luxmi Chansrichawla. “Miami is already a destination that appeals to the Latin market, and it’s the very reason why Indians will find themselves drawn here: the two cultures are very similar in many ways people don’t realize.”

In Florida, the number has been far smaller — with all Asian and Pacific buyers combined representing just 4 percent of the foreign market share statewide, according to a Miami Association of Realtors survey last year.

“I’m starting to hear from different brokers that they are getting interest from Indian buyers and some brokers are going over [to India] to do dog-and-pony shows to try and drum up more investment,” McCabe said. “I think it’s kind of the early stages right now, but it’s definitely going to be a trend and I think we’ll see it continue to grow.”

It’s not just brokers that are trying to take advantage of Indian buyers abroad, however.

Some multi-family and condominium developers, McCabe said, are already building projects in India, notably Jorge Perez.

As it has also done in Brazil, Perez’ company, Astrum Homes, is planning a series of new residential projects in India, hoping to capitalize on the growing economy.

What is clear is a pattern of BRIC economies looking to South Florida.

China has been the most recent BRIC member to look at Miami partly as a result of the massive casino project planned by Malaysian firm Genting. And Russian buyers have made some of the largest purchases in Miami in the last two years, highlighted by the $25.5 million purchase of a Star Island home by Russian Standard Vodka’s Roustam Tariko last year.

“It’s no different [with India],” Zalewski said. “The appeal of South Florida is not only for Europeans and South Americans — it’s the central Asian buyer as well. The question becomes which is the country of the month.”

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