Real Estate

Latin Americans spend lots on real estate in South Florida. Who is buying the most?

A mural with the image of Brazilian soccer player Neymar is seen on a building at the corner of SW First Avenue and Eighth Street in Miami. Brazilians rank first among foreign buyers in South Florida.
A mural with the image of Brazilian soccer player Neymar is seen on a building at the corner of SW First Avenue and Eighth Street in Miami. Brazilians rank first among foreign buyers in South Florida. cmguerrero@miamiherald.com

Brazilians have replaced Argentines as the biggest investors in South Florida real estate, according to a recent report by the Miami Realtors Association based on sales from August 2017 to July 2018.

Miami-Dade remains an attractive destination for foreign buyers, who accounted for 65 percent of the real estate purchases. The largest group are the Latin Americans, who continue to trust in the city as an investment opportunity.

Brazilians, who accounted for 17 percent of the buyers, were followed by Venezuelans at 13 percent, Argentines at 10 percent, Colombians at nine percent and Dominicans and Canadians tied at four percent.

The total value of the properties sold to foreigners rose in 2018 to $8.7 billion, compared to $7.1 billion in 2017.

Condominiums remained a favored purchase by foreigners, although the number of condos sold dropped to 14,300 in 2018, compared to 2017 when 15,300 were sold.

Foreigners usually buy more expensive properties, and the average price of the apartments and houses they bought rose from $339,300 in 2017 to $373,000 last year.

The report by the Miami Realtors Association measured the number of purchases by foreign buyers handled by association members and split it into two categories:

1. Those who live outside the United States and buy properties as investments or for vacations or visits of less than six months.

2. Immigrants who have lived less than two years in the United States at the time of purchase, and those holding U.S. visas that allow them to stay more than six months for work, educational or other reasons.

In Broward, Brazilian buyers were in third place as investors after Colombians with 18 percent and Venezuelans with 13 percent.

Palm Beach is popular with Canadians, who accounted for 57 percent of the foreign purchases. Brazilians were in second place with 10 percent, followed by Argentines at five percent.

The association’s previous report put Argentines at the top of the buyers’ list for South Florida from 2016 to 2017, and Venezuelans at the top of Miami-Dade. Brazilians were in fourth place among South Florida buyers.

Although this is not reflected in the association’s latest report, it appears that an increasing number of Mexicans are interested in buying properties in Miami.

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“They are investing their money in Miami because they don’t like their government,” said Oliver Ruiz, an agent with Related ISG International Realty. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December 2018.

Ruiz, a 23-year veteran of Miami real estate, said he has seen the preeminence of Brazilian buyers and their shrinking status in later years as their country’s economy stumbled and their currency dropped.

Ruiz noted that Mexicans bought 62 apartments in the Okan Tower, a luxury condo building in downtown Miami, due to be finished in 2022.

Association reports show the number of Mexican buyers remained stable at four percent since 2016.

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