In The City — 30 October 2015
Where buys are in South Florida real estate


So who’s buying South Florida real estate, and where? Get out your maps

There are scores of new housing projects under development or construction here in South Florida. But not all attract the same type of buyers.

Some seek out glitzy condominiums in Miami or Sunny Isles Beach; others prefer a quieter lifestyle.

So who’s buying here? And where are they buying?

Latin Americans

It’s no secret that Latin Americans are flocking to South Florida. According to Craig Studnicky, co-founder of Aventura-based sales and marketing firm ISG World LLC, about 80 percent of the buyers in downtown Miami are from South America, most purchasing for vacation use rather than investment. “Investment money is discretionary money, and right now there’s not a lot of that in South America,” he says. “These are clearly not investments — it’s shelter from the economic and political storms down in South America.”

According to ISG, 34 percent of those from South America who purchase condominiums in the Miami area are from Brazil, with Venezuela, at 28 percent, a close second. Panama leads the purchasers from Central America, while purchasers from Russia, France, China and Italy lead those coming from Europe and Asia.

Now, currency fluctuations are affecting purchases by Latin American buyers. “A year ago, it took two Brazilian reals to buy one dollar,” Studnicky says. “Today it takes 4.3 reals to buy one dollar, so that means our real estate has more than doubled in price — without developers raising prices.”


Canadians have always been attracted to South Florida, albeit somewhat less so these days because of the strength of the American dollar. “We still get snippets of buyers out of Toronto, but because the U.S. dollar has risen so much against the Canadian dollar, we’re not getting Canadian buyers like we used to,” Studnicky says.

Some projects, however, are still popular with Canadian buyers.

“Canadians love Fort Lauderdale, so it’s no surprise that we’ve seen 20 percent of our buyers at The Gale Boutique Hotel & Residences come from Toronto and Montreal,” says Harvey Hernandez, chairman and CEO of Newgard Development Group, the project’s developer.


Whether its empty-nesters selling large country club homes in search of an easier lifestyle, or snowbirds relocating to warmer environs, Americans still make up a large percentage of new-home buyers in South Florida.

“While foreign buyers account for a large segment of the market, the real story is the increase of domestic end-users purchasing homes in South Florida,” says David Martin, president of Terra, the developer of Botaniko Weston. “Many of these buyers are scooping up second homes, while others are making a lifestyle change by downsizing.”

Martin says that at his Grove at Grand Bay project in Coconut Grove, more than half the owners are from the United States, while at Botaniko, he’s seeing “a steady flow of full-time South Florida families.”

The same buying patterns apply to Palm Beach County. At Pointe 100, a 100-unit townhouse project in Boca Raton, 40 units have been sold so far, the majority to “empty-nesters and youthful retirees,” says Dean Borg of Ascend Properties, the developer. He said that many are moving from larger homes in the surrounding country club communities.

— Robyn A. Friedman

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