“Get your money out now”: Miami brokers target Colombian buyers after leftist’s election

Agents report increased foreign demand for South Florida condos as uncertainty lingers over Latin American country

From left: Edgardo Defortuna, Ana Gomez, Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, and Craig Studnicky
From left: Edgardo Defortuna, Ana Gomez, Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, and Craig Studnicky (LinkedIn, Cervera, iStock)

Uncertainty in the wake of left-wing Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro’s victory in a June runoff election has Miami preparing for a wave of buyers from Latin America.

Brokerages say they’ve been sending agents to Colombia to market both new developments and existing properties in South Florida, hoping to capitalize on demand from wealthy residents who may seek to move their assets out of the country.

Miami has long been known to attract international investors, but saw a major drop-off in sales to foreign buyers during the pandemic. Brokers in the area hope an increase in demand from Latin America will help offset the recent decline in sales that has accompanied rising mortgage rates, inflation and other economic factors.

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(iStock/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)
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Colombian buyers represented 12 percent of international real estate transactions in South Florida in May, second only to Argentinian buyers, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. Colombia also topped the association’s list of countries whose residents were searching for Miami homes in May for the third consecutive month, followed by Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil.

Condos in Brickell are their top choice, brokers and agents say, and many are paying cash. More than half of Miami condo sales in May were all-cash, according to the association.

The sales team for Cipriani Residences Miami, a planned 80-story luxury condo tower in the Brickell Financial District, reports that Colombians account for 10 percent of reservations since units became available in March. It’s the top country searching for the project, said Ana Gomez, sales director with Fortune Development Sales, adding that her team members are traveling to Colombia monthly to give presentations.

“Some of them are looking for an investment, and a lot of them are thinking about the project as a plan B, to live at the project,” Gomez said.

Miami-based Mast Capital, led by Camilo Miguel Jr., is developing the tower alongside the Cipriani family. Construction hasn’t begun, but the developers expect to complete it in 2026.

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Gomez said Colombians are buying units priced at an average of about $2 million. Condos in the building range from $1.6 million to $5 million, excluding penthouses, and are now about 30 percent reserved, she said. Demand is largest for units that allow for short-term rentals so buyers can generate revenue from the properties.

Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner of Miami-based Cervera Real Estate, said her firm began targeted marketing to Colombians, through email blasts and social media campaigns, prior to the election.
“We are seeing more Colombians come into the market. Not only do they buy to live, they buy to rent, they buy businesses, they’re also developers,” Lamadrid said.

Political uncertainty and shifts in power in Latin America have historically brought flights of capital to South Florida. Lamadrid said investors from Peru and Chile are also buying Miami real estate after recent elections in those countries. Others pointed to Mexico and Argentina.

Gustavo Petro, Miami

Gustavo Petro (Getty)

Some Colombian investors have shifted their search from planned developments to existing units following Petro’s electoral victory, said Craig Studnicky, CEO of the brokerages ISG World and Related ISG.

Petro, considered to be the first leftist president in the country’s history, will take office in August.

“There’s some built-in urgency inside Colombia. Get your money out now,” Studnicky said. “Plan B is the dinner conversation at every Colombian dinner table every night. Plan B is Miami.”