ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida remained the top destination of foreign buyers purchasing U.S. residential real estate in 2016, with 22 percent of all foreign buyers who bought residential property in the United States. Florida Realtors® latest report, the 2016 Profile of International Residential Real Estate Activity in Florida, finds that international sales hit $19.4 billion this year, though that’s less than the $23.7 billion spent in 2015.
However, slower economic growth in many countries, the appreciation of the dollar against a number of other currencies, and strong price growth in multiple areas due to limited housing inventory combined to make conditions more difficult for foreign buyers to purchase in Florida and across the U.S., according to analysts.
As a percentage of total dollar volume spent on Florida real estate in 2016, international sales made up 19 percent. However, that’s a drop from 24 percent last year. Nationwide, foreign buyers made up seven percent of existing home sales’ dollar volume.
The report is based on an annual study done by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) in cooperation with Florida Realtors. It presents information relating to residential transactions with international clients of Florida’s Realtors during the 12-month period of August 2015–July 2016. In this report the year 2016 refers to the 12-month period August 2015-July 2016, and the year 2015 refers to the 12-month period July 2014-June 2015. A total of 6,167 Realtors responded to this year’s survey, conducted Aug. 9-29, 2016.
- Foreign buyers purchased 47,000 residential properties in the 12-month period (44,000 in 2015) – 12 percent of Florida’s residential market (12 percent in 2015).
- The dollar volume decreased as the number of purchases increased because the average price that foreign buyers paid declined to $412,000 in 2016 compared to $539,000 in 2015.
- The median purchase price also decreased to $253,000 from $297,000 due, in part, to a smaller fraction of Latin American buyers who tend to purchase property in higher price ranges.
- A strong U.S. dollar impacted sales this year: 58 percent said the effect was “significant” (52 percent in 2015).
- 30 percent of foreign buyers aid Florida’s real estate prices were more expensive than prices in the buyer’s home country (22 percent in 2015).
- Latin America and Caribbean buyers accounted for the biggest share (39 percent) of Florida foreign buyers, but that was a noticeable year-to-year decline (56 percent in 2015).
- The top five countries whose residents invested in Florida this year by dollar volume: Canada ($3.0 billion), Brazil ($2.8 billion), Venezuela ($1.5 billion), the United Kingdom ($1.4 billion) and Argentina ($1.4 billion). Buyers from these countries accounted for 52 percent of total dollar volume and 48 percent of foreign buyer purchases.
- Foreign buyers purchased property across Florida, but their primary destinations were: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach (52 percent), Orlando- Kissimmee-Sanford (12 percent) and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (8 percent).
- 72 percent of foreign buyers made an all-cash purchase.
- 72 percent bought residential property for vacations, residential rentals or both.
- 52 percent bought a townhouse or condominium.
- 40 percent of foreign buyers chose a central city or urban location, up from 25 percent eight years ago; 14 percent purchased in a resort area, down from 33 percent in 2008.
Floridians searching for properties abroad
- 14 percent of Realtors said they had a client seeking to purchase property abroad.
- Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean generated the most inquiries. Spain, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany – countries that are also origins of foreign buyers – were also of interest.
- 79 percent of Floridians were interested in residential property.
- 84 percent intended to use the property for vacation, residential rental or both.
Interactions with international clients
- 48 percent of Realtors in Florida worked with an international client in 2016, a decline from 69 percent in 2015.
- 10 percent of Florida Realtors members had six or more clients (21 percent in 2015).
- 64 percent reported no change or an increase in the percentage of international clients (69 percent in 2015).
- Personal contacts, previous clients and business contacts accounted for 68 percent of referrals or leads. The agent’s firm’s or franchise’s website or social media was the primary source of online leads, as well as other aggregator websites and Realtor.com.
- 63 percent said they haven’t had problems dealing with international clients (61 percent in 2015).
- 39 percent spoke a language other than English (36 percent in 2015).
- 42 percent expected a decrease in foreign clients in the next 12 months.
The complete 2016 Profile of International Real Estate Activity in Florida can be downloaded on the Research and Statistics page of Florida Realtors’ member website at http://www.floridarealtors.org/ResearchAndStatistics/Other-Research-Reports/Index.cfm. Once on the page, look under International and click on the pulldown bar to find the 2016 report.