A Mini-Housing Boom For Miami, With Foreign Flavor

Aug 21, 2011

While housing demand sputters among Americans, foreign buyers are flocking here for cheap deals.

For the 12 months ending in March, sales to foreign buyers totaled $82 billion, up from $66 billion in 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. And while international buyers are unlikely to turn the US housing market around, they are making a big difference in states such as Florida.

Today, thanks to foreign buyers, home sales are so good in Miami that more houses and condos could sell this year than during the boom year of 2005.

"All of the buildings that everybody thought would never fill up, they're all full," Oliver Ruiz, a managing broker of Fortune International Realty in Florida, tells Sullivan.

"We sold a home the other day on Key Biscayne to an Argentinian fellow for about $13 million. We also sold a home to a Russian there for about $4 million," Ruiz says, "If you want to name a nation, I can tell you they're here."

He adds that the local economy has been buoyed by foreign buyers who frequent restaurants and shops, in addition to paying property taxes.

The downside, he says, is that more homes sold to international buyers means fewer available to locals.

"[Locals] can't sit on the fence anymore," Ruiz says. "They just can't sit back and say, 'I'm going to wait a little bit more to see if I can get a better deal.' "

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