Real Estate

Many French home buyers are drawn to South Florida

International buyers always have been a very important piece of the Miami-Dade County real estate market. Still, new trends often emerge, and one that we’ve seen in force in 2016 is a larger influx of French buyers.

Over the past several years, our team would see a buyer from France about once a month. Now it’s happening at least once a week, and often more frequently. And when they come to look, they come to buy. They are ready to move to Miami, and not just to vacation.

The buyers we have assisted are very open about why they are moving: Many of these buyers have decided to leave the European nation citing fears of terrorism and general security concerns:

▪ Terror attacks from Paris to Nice and beyond have rocked the country in the past year.

▪ A surge of refugees has raised concerns. Thousands of people are arriving in France from war-torn countries in the Middle East, and it has elevated tensions throughout France.

▪ Fears over the strength of the European Union have financial analysts concerned. Problems in countries like Greece affect every country, including France, that’s tied to the euro.

While some of these buyers are new to Miami-Dade, most have vacationed here and are already familiar with Miami’s culturally vibrant community, beautiful tropical beaches, luxurious architecture and active nightlife. Some even have vacation condos in South Florida, and are now upgrading to larger single-family homes as they look to move their families here permanently.

According to a report prepared by the National Association of Realtors, a significant portion of international buyers are shifting away from condos and moving toward single-family homes.

Based on sales information from September 2014 through August 2015, here’s what is different: From 2010 to 2014, condominium sales accounted for about 65 percent of foreign purchases, and single-family homes accounted for approximately 21 percent. However, during the 2015 survey, condos accounted for only 52 percent of the sales, and homes accounted for 30 percent. (The balance was from the sale of townhomes, commercial property or land.)

Figures for 2016 aren’t available yet, but based on the hundreds of buyers we are seeing in our office this year, that trend is continuing — and likely getting even stronger.

While Miami-Dade doesn’t yet have a French-dominated neighborhood, we are noticing that many French buyers are drawn to Miami Beach’s Normandy Isles, as well as select areas of North Miami and Northeast Miami.

France has been a top country for foreign buyers purchasing in Miami-Dade for quite some time — and France has often been at the top of the list among European buyers. For the past five years, the French have made up about 4 to 5 percent of the international buyers. In fact, in 2013, France was the No. 1 country generating searches for Miami properties on Miamire.com, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.

The value to the area of arriving foreign buyers is substantial. According to the 2016 Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate, foreign buyers purchased $102.6 billion of residential property in the U.S. from April 2015 through March 2016. Additionally, foreign buyers typically purchase more expensive properties: Foreign buyers purchased properties valued at a median price of $277,380, compared to the median price of $223,058 of all U.S. existing home sales.

As Europe struggles with numerous challenges, Miami is attracting a diverse pool of international buyers, particularly from France. The French seem attracted not only to our city’s beautiful weather, but also to its multinational flavor, economic opportunities, the absence of state income tax, and most of all, a welcoming environment for foreigners. Miami’s flourishing community is the perfect place for many to call home.

Hillary Hertzberg is a luxury real estate sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate’s The Jills® and is based in Miami Beach. She can be reached at hillary@thejills.com, www.hillaryhertzberg.com

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