Venezuelans continue to make more international real-estate purchases in Miami than any other foreign group, 16 percent, while Argentineans have leaped to second place with a 15 percent share, and Brazilians rank third at 14 percent, according to a new report from the Miami Association of Realtors.
The statistics were unveiled Monday at Miami International Real Estate Congress put on by the Miami Association of Realtors, which drew some 250 real estate agents from the United States and 10 foreign countries.
“Miami is a very unique market,” Teresa King Kinney, CEO of the Miami Association of Realtors, told the crowd. “We are No. 1 for international buyers and investors.”
Foreign buyers have played a vital role in lifting Miami out of the depths of the real estate downturn, and the agents came to network and to tap into the city’s allure to international investors and vacation-home buyers.
“I have clients there [in Fortaleza, Brazil] who want to buy here,” said Geovania Heller, one of many Brazilian real estate agents who attended the session Monday. “Prices are still better here than in Brazil.”
Real-estate agents from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, among others, joined with a large contingent of Brazilian brokers for the three-day event that wraps up Tuesday at the Biltmore Hotel.
The international gathering comes as Miami’s market is showing steady signs of recovery and facing a dearth of inventory of homes and condos for sale. The number of units on the market has shrunk 75 percent since August 2008. Meanwhile, residential prices have risen double digits since December 2011.
Distressed transactions accounted for 47.4 percent of Miami-Dade transactions in September, down from 59 percent a year ago.
Colombians accounted for 6 percent of international real-estate purchases in Miami and Miami Beach, according to the latest data covering the year ended Sept. 30, while French and Peruvians each accounted for 5 percent, King Kinney said.
All told, Latin Americans accounted for 70 percent of the international real estate transactions in Miami and Miami Beach. Western Europeans accounted for 18 percent of foreign sales.
Arthur Ohanesyan, a Realtor from Kiev, Ukraine, said he came mostly to learn about the U.S. market.
“Mostly I just want to study your way of doing business and just to see,” said Ohanesyan, who sat at a table with Russian and Ukrainian peers. “Ukrainians occasionally buy property in Miami, but they don’t use our services there in the Ukraine.”
King Kinney said VivaReal.com.br, a Brazilian website that logs 1.3 million visitors monthly, recently began listing Multiple Listing Service properties from South Florida as agents in both countries forge stronger ties to promote selling.
Along with schmoozing, the visiting brokers got hints on using social media to boost their visibility and briefings on major new condominium projects on the drawing board for South Florida.
One key consensus among Latin agents: Venezuelans are likely to remain major buyers in South Florida, spurred by the political situation back home and the recent re-election of leftist President Hugo Chavez.
At a session on Venezuela, Francisco Angulo told agents building relationships in Venezuela is vital to doing business there. Angulo, an international specialist with Coldwell Banker in Miami Beach, said discretion is important in dealing with Venezuelans in their home country. Forget about taking out a newspaper ad to tout a seminar on buying real estate outside Venezuela: “Nobody will show up,’’ Angulo said. “People want to be low key.’’