Florida Realtor April 2012 : Page 20

Who, What, Where FLORIDA DESTINATIONS FOR FOREIGN HOME BUYERS The top three destinations for international home buyers in Florida were reported in the survey as the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach area (30 percent of purchases), followed by Orlando-Kissimmee (14 percent of pur-chases), and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (11 percent of purchases). Percentage of International Sales by Market Area Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach ........30% Orlando-Kissimmee ...................................14% Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater .............. 11% Cape Coral-Fort Myers ................................8% Naples-Marco Island ...................................6% Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice ........................4% Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach ......2% Jacksonville ...............................................2% Port St. Lucie ..............................................2% Gainesville ..................................................1% Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville ....................1% Palm Coast ..................................................1% Punta Gorda ................................................1% Other ........................................................16% (This table sums to 99 percent due to rounding.) 2011 Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida the currency differences, a Brazilian can buy a beautiful home that has been [al-ready] discounted to $1 million for just $600,000,” said Ron Shuffield , president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell in Coral Gables, at the Miami International Real Estate Congress. “That’s why our inter-national friends are helping the market move through the U.S. recession.” The 2011 survey found that 41 percent of foreign buyers purchased a property as a vacation home, 23 percent intended to rent it, 25 percent planned a dual use and 6 percent bought it for a retirement home. “Most Orlando-area (international) buyers are looking for fully furnished properties—both single-family homes and condominiums—so they can easily rent them out at times the owners are not visiting Florida,” says Thunell. While many foreign buyers prefer easy-to-maintain condominiums, others buy single-family homes and some pur-chase multiple properties in the same lo-cation. “We’ve seen affluent Latin Ameri-can parents buying homes for themselves and for their [college-age children],” says Lewis Goodkin , president of Goodkin Con-sulting , Miami. Attracting Global Customers Florida sales professionals attract inter-national customers in many different ways. Some turn their language skills or cultural background into a marketing as-set, while others focus on building online relationships or travel aboard to market their listings and generate referrals. “International business is largely done by personal referrals,” says Dahne. “Some-one seeking to get involved in this mar-ket should get involved in local, state and national networking functions and start building a network.” The 2011 survey not-ed that more than 60 percent of interna-tional contacts came from referrals and 23 percent from online marketing. Today, many international custom-ers can be found close to home, includ-ing foreign visitors and current owners seeking to sell their properties. In Or-lando, Thunell says, her prime office lo-cation right off Interstate 4 has helped attract walk-in buyers. “We’ve also had great success from holding open houses in communities [with short-term rentals] ContrIBUtorS Beth Butler ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, Miami Pat Dahne Pat Dahne Realty Group, Coral Gables Lewis Goodkin Goodkin Con-sulting, Miami Ron Shuffield Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell, Coral Gables Ellen L. Thunell ChampionsGate Watson Realty Corp., Orlando Clark Toole Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Florida John Tuccillo Florida Realtors® Deborah Boza-Valledor Miami Association of Realtors while international buyers are visiting here.” In the next year, Florida real estate professionals can expect continuing strong activity in the international sec-tor, led by demand from Latin America and other emerging markets, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. “Follow the trends in foreign currencies, because exchange rates are definitely a driver for international buyers,” he says. “And Flor-ida continues to be seen as a desirable place to buy.” Richard Westlund is a Miami-based freelance writer. 20 FLORIDA REALTOR April 2012

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