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Florida residential real estate thrives on foreign purchases

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Florida has the glamour, beauty, social and cultural resources to attract home buyers from all over the world. International involvement in residential real estate deals made up 8 percent of all homes sales in Florida over a 12-month period ending in July 2013, according to the Florida Realtors Association. The organization has published a recent report entitled "2013 Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida." Furthermore, international residential real estate transactions made up 9 percent of sales in Florida by dollar volume during that same period.

A foreign buyer is defined as a non-resident foreigner who purchases property in the U.S. but lives here only part of the year. They often use the property as a combination rental and vacation unit. Realtors in Florida have a long history of doing a substantial amount of business with foreign purchasers.

Florida is one of five states that collectively take in a substantial majority of the international residential real estate business. Florida has the largest share of the five with 23 percent of all national sales to foreign buyers closed in this state. For the 12 months ended July 2013, there were 22,572 residential real estate transactions worth $6.4 billion transacted with foreigners.

The market is also important to Florida realtors because the homes purchased by non-resident foreign buyers tend to be in the higher price ranges. Some 63 percent of realtors in Florida have international clients, compared to the national average of 27 percent. Interestingly, most realtors surveyed said that foreign buyers found real estate in Florida to be a good value.

Canadians are the biggest group of purchasers at 30 percent of total Florida international sales. Next in line are Venezuela (8 percent), Brazil (7 percent), and the U.K. (6 percent). In general, buyers from Brazil, Venezuela and Western Europe purchased above the median price. The great majority of these residential real estate transactions in Florida are cash sales. If you're a foreign purchaser or if you are selling to a buyer from another country, the best and safest approach is to retain a local real estate law firm to handle the voluminous paper work and to make sure that all of the bases are covered in your behalf.

Source:, US Real Estate: Florida Has International Appeal, Shayne Heffernan, Oct. 4, 2013

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