Surging China interest buoys Florida's No. 1 status in foreign buyers

Miami HeraldJuly 8, 2014 

Florida again topped the nation as the state of choice among international real estate buyers, capturing 23 percent of sales transactions in the latest yearly report from the National Association of Realtors.

Nationwide, foreign buyers of real estate are on a tear, with purchases jumping 35 percent for the year ended in March, according to NAR’s 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity released Tuesday.

Foreign sales of U.S. residential real estate totaled $92.2 billion for that period, up from $68.2 billion a year earlier, the Realtors group reported.

China led the way, accounting for $22 billion in purchases of U.S. real estate for the 12-month period, or 24 percent of total foreign sales, NAR said.

A year earlier, Chinese purchases of U.S. real estate amounted to $12.8 billion, or 19 percent of total foreign sales.

“Foreign buyers are being enticed to U.S. real estate because of what they recognize as attractive prices, economic stability, and an incredible opportunity for investment in their future,” NAR President Steve Brown. co-owner of a Dayton, Ohio, brokerage, said in a statement.

Among the Chinese, the favorite state remains California, which accounted for 35 percent of sales, followed by Washington (9 percent); New York (7 percent); Pennsylvania (6 percent); and Texas (6 percent.)

In Florida, buyers from Asia and Oceania accounted for just 8 percent of sales, while Latin Americans accounted for 26 percent of foreign purchases, and Europeans totaled 28 percent.

However, Realtors say Chinese buyers are showing increased interest in Florida.

“I’d say they are the new, new ones to the neighborhood,” said Helen Jeanne Nicastri, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Coral Gables, who deals with a lot of international buyers, including working with a Chinese broker in Shanghai.

Chinese buyers are interested in “very high-end condos and high-end waterfront houses,” Nicastri said.

Florida has long led the nation in foreign real estate sales. In the 12 months ended in March 2013, the state also had a 23 percent share.

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