In Florida Real Estate, Brazilians make their move

Close to 20,000 people attended the National Association of Realtors’ convention this weekend in Orlando. Nearly 50 of them got special attention: a group from Brazil.

Florida has long been a destination for seasonal home buyers from Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany, but now new groups are coming — most notably Russians and Brazilians.

At the NAR conference, 46 Brazilian agents were given special tours of Orlando-area properties. They also met with Sarasota agents Pat Tan and Carla Rayman, who specialize in property sales to foreigners and also produced, with the Sarasota Association of Realtors, the 6th Sarasota International Real Estate Congress last Monday. I moderated a panel discussion that included Pat Neal of Neal Communities, Coldwell Banker Florida President Clark Toole and Cammie Longenecker of Taylor Morrison.

“They think we will be talking to them about Orlando,” said Rayman at the Congress, revealing her hidden agenda, “but we will be mentioning Sarasota, too.”

Marketing to overseas buyers is a major effort. Miami hosted a large international real estate symposium at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables as a lead-up to the Orlando NAR event, and more and more agents are seeking the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation.

The overseas buyer tends to pay cash because if it is hard for an American to get a mortgage, imagine how tough it is for someone who might have difficulty proving a steady source of employment income or that their “funds are clean,” said Tan.

In addition, the foreign buyer might be required to pay 40 percent down in order to get a mortgage. For those with enough money to buy and looking for a safe haven, why bother with all that.

South American buyers love Miami, because the world-class city is basically the capital of Latin America — and its gated communities tend not to be patrolled by security guards with assault rifles. Personal security is a real concern in South America, as well as financial security in economies that are far less stable than ours. Wealthy South American buyers like being able to let their children play outside in a Florida backyard without fearing for their safety.

Brazil’s economy is strong, so that is one reason Brazilians are showing up at South Florida real estate offices, and why the Miami real estate market is much healthier than it was three years ago.

But if you have visited Miami recently, you may have noticed that it is a very big city with very bad traffic. I have noticed more and more Miamians on our streets, first to visit, and later to buy, to gain a more tranquil lifestyle.

I predict the Brazilians will follow. They will start in Miami and then branch out throughout the state as they gain familiarity with it.

It is the goal of real estate agents, such as Tan and Rayman, to get them to think about buying in Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties.


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