Latin buyers fueling SoFla real estate boom, China emerging: Chamber summit

Miami /
Mar.March 27, 2015 05:15 PM

The South Florida real estate market experienced its fourth straight year of record-breaking sales, fueled by a continuing surge of wealthy Latin America buyers, according to a report released Friday, conducted by the National Association of Realtors for the Miami Association of Realtors.

“The difference between Miami today and Miami of a year or two ago is the ultra-high net worth individual,” said Teresa King Kinney, CEO of the Miami Association of Realtors, who presented the report Friday at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s South Florida Real Estate Summit at Jungle Island.

In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, 68 percent of international buyers hailed from Latin America in 2014, the report shows. Venezuela ranked at the top of the international list, with 16 percent of sales, followed by Argentina with 12 percent, Brazil with 11 percent and Colombia, with 8 percent. Canada came in next with 7 percent, France with 5 percent and Mexico with 4 percent.

For the first time, China appeared on the list, at 2 percent. “China is the No. 1 strongest market for new business from anywhere in the world,” Kinney told The Real Deal. “They are finding us, and they are loving us.”

To further promote Miami, a group of Realtors is going to attend a luxury property show in Beijing next month, she said.

Among international buyers, 28 percent paid more than $500,000 for their properties, and 9 percent paid $1 million or more, the report shows. On average, Miami’s international buyers paid $444,052 per purchase, compared to $245,000 nationally. Brazilians spend the most, Kinney said. Of all international buyers, 72 percent purchased condos; 81 percent of international buyers paid cash.

“International buyers spend more money,” she said. “We love them for so many reasons,” including paying more in property taxes, since they are not eligible for homestead exemptions, and shopping and dining out while on vacation.

In Broward, Canada topped the list of international buyers, at 18 percent, followed by Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil.

Overall, Florida led the nation in 2014 with the most international transactions, at 23 percent, followed by California with 14 percent and Texas, with 12 percent. Canada had the highest percent of buyers in Florida, 31.6 percent, followed the United Kingdom, with 7 percent, the report shows. The majority of buyers from those countries choose the Orlando market, Kinney said, because prices are lower. China and Brazil tied for third place, with 5.7 percent, each.

In February, Miami’s median price for single-family homes was up 7.9 percent from February 2014, to $245,000, Kinney said. The median price for condos, $189,000, jumped 8.4 percent, year-over-year. February marked 44 months of sale price increases for condos, and 39 months for single-family homes.

The chamber’s real estate summit, Riding High: The Current State and Future Trends for South Florida’s Real Estate Market, explored the markets for both residential and commercial real estate, and included real estate awards.

Keynote speaker W. Allen Morris, chairman and CEO of The Allen Morris Company, emphasized the need to remember the lessons learned from the previous cycle, take a balanced approach and be able to adapt to change.

Stephen Owens, president of Swire Properties, who was awarded a lifetime achievement award, agreed that balance is important.

“You can’t have a party everyday where everyone is drinking all the time. You have to have a day when you say that I can’t drink today.” he said. “We have a good thing going, but we have to show some discipline going forward.”


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