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Drop in Fla. International Buyers Doesn’t Slow Sales

Study: A strong dollar, worsening global economic outlook and rising U.S. prices slowed the state's international sales over the past year. However, domestic buyers may have stepped in. 

ORLANDO, Fla. – A strong dollar, worsening global economic outlook and rising U.S. home prices slowed international sales during the past year in Florida Realtors®’ latest international report. However, domestic buyers may have stepped in. Overall, Florida home sales and prices have continued to rise, potentially fueled by more buyers from within the U.S.

“There’s been a general weakening of the global economy over the past year, but the U.S. economy has remained strong – particularly in Florida where employment growth continues to exceed the U.S. average by an impressive margin,” says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. “From a statewide perspective, our robust level of domestic housing demand has been more than enough to insulate us from any decline in home purchases by international buyers. So far this year, Florida home sales are up 2.4%, and dollar volume is up by 4.6%.”

Florida Realtors’ just-released 2019 Profile of International Residential Real Estate Activity found a similar trend in Florida that the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) found this summer: Sales of homes to international buyers for the one year-report – from August 2018 through July 2019 – declined by 30% in Florida, or slightly less than the U.S. drop of 31%.

The dollar volume of Florida’s existing home sales purchases was 12% of total state sales in the latest period compared to 19% in 2018, though the U.S. saw a larger drop of 36% in dollar volume from international sales.

Florida remains a top U.S. destination for foreign buyers. The state was home to 20% of all U.S. international sales in the latest report; in 2018, it was home to 19%.

The strength of the U.S. dollar has also made a Florida purchase more challenging for investors living in other countries, effectively making a home purchase more expensive for buyers who must convert currency.

From July 2018 to July 2019, the dollar strengthened against the Chinese yuan (2.5%), euro (4.2%), British pound (5.6%), Mexican peso (0.3%) and Indian rupee (0.1%). But it weakened slightly against the Canadian dollar (-0.2%), and the Brazilian real (-1.1%), allowing residents of those countries to buy a bit more home than they could before. In some countries, slowing economic growth has also put a damper on real estate investing.

Compared to the prior period, the latest report found a decline in the dollar volume of purchases from Canada, Brazil, Colombia and the United Kingdom. It found modest dollar-volume increases from buyers hailing from Argentina and Venezuela.

Florida’s top 5 foreign buyers’ country of origin in 2018-2019

  • Canada: $3.3 billion in purchases (17% of all foreign buyers)
  • Brazil: $1.6 billion in purchases (9% of all foreign buyers)
  • Argentina: $1.3 billion in purchases (10% of all foreign buyers)
  • Venezuela: $0.9 billion in purchases (10% of all foreign buyers)
  • Colombia: $0.8 billion in purchases (7% of all foreign buyers)

Top 5 Florida metro areas for foreign buyers in 2018-2019

  • Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach (53% of foreign buyers)
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (11% of foreign buyers)
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (7% of foreign buyers)
  • Cape Coral-Ft. Myers (6% of foreign buyers)
  • North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton (5% of foreign buyers)

Highlights from 2019 report

  • $16 billion: The dollar volume of Florida’s existing homes purchased by foreign buyers during August 2018–July 2019, which is 12% of the dollar volume of Florida’s existing-home sales (30% decrease from $22.9 billion during the prior 12-month period)
  • 36,400: The number of existing homes purchased in Florida by foreign buyers, which is 9% of existing-home sales (30% decrease from 52,000 during the prior 12-month period)
  • 71%: Share of non-resident foreign buyers whose primary residence is abroad. The remaining 29% of buyers are recent immigrants.
  • $288,600: Foreign buyer median purchase price ($246,479 for all Florida existing-homes sold)
  • 67%: Foreign buyers who paid all-cash
  • 70%: Foreign buyers who intended to use the property for vacation, residential rental, or both uses
  • 43%: Foreign buyers who purchased condo or co-op units
  • 94%: Percent of foreign buyers who visited Florida at least once before making a purchase
  • 72%: Percent of foreign buyers who were referrals of personal and business contacts and former clients, or who were former clients
  • 37%: Percent of Realtors who speak a language other than English
  • 65%: Percent of Realtors who “have not had problems” working with foreign buyers

The 2019 Profile of International Residential Real Estate Activity in Florida is available on Florida Realtors’ website.

© 2019 Florida Realtors®