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Truth About Foreign Buyers
February 03, 2010

One Broker’s 5:00 AM Adventures.

Back in the Bush administration days when the market was just starting to slow down and the dollar had dropped significantly, the media was blaring headlines about foreign buyers laden with cash coming to buy everything they could get their hands on.

All of my anxious Sellers were confronting me with: “ Where are your foreign buyers?” I knew that if they were in fact out there in droves, I (who is on the lookout 8 days a week) would have certainly seen them.  I got the occasional  Russian, sun seekers from the UK or the Italians wanting a fun SoBe condo, but nothing like the media made it sound. So, since sellers rarely want to just take your word for it, I started my crack of dawn research.

In pursuit of the truth about foreign buyers, determined to have a straight and true answer for my sellers, the story turns ugly with me getting up at 5:00 AM putting on my Skype headset and calling every high end broker in major cities across Europe.

At first, I tried ingratiating myself and promising a long and mutually beneficial relationship to the head of each international department, I was without fail told to take a hike. In slightly more polite terms of course.

I was given many reasons why U.S. residential real estate wasn’t even on their radar. i.e.
  1. Our market was considered too volatile.

  2. An intense dislike of President Bush and the new visa laws which they felt treated  foreign travelers as terrorists.

  3. Everyone was buying in Dubai (we know how that turned out) South of France or the Seychelles Islands.

  4. No one understood our property taxes or insurance requirements.
So, now I had an answer. The perception given by the media that Foreign Nationals were lining up to make purchases was not true.

I am now happy to say that all that has changed with the descent of the dollar and the relative stability of the market compared to other countries. Now a large percentage of buyers are indeed foreign.

In one weekend I took out buyers from Iran, London and Italy. I have recently closed deals with buyers from Venezuela, Mexico and the UK.  With one exception, they have all been cash buyers. Florida leads the country with International buyers. Existing home sales were up 45% in Miami Dade County in December compared to December 2008.

Most analysts expect sales to pick up even more in the Spring of 2010. This could be a one-in-a-generation opportunity for real estate investment.
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