MIAMI Association of REALTORS




Florida is Top U.S. Destination for Foreign Home Buyers

by | Jul 22, 2016

By Chris Umpierre/MIAMI Staff

With its all-year sunny weather, resort lifestyle and educational institutions, it’s no wonder Florida is the top state in the union for foreign home buyers. Florida finished with the largest share of international home sales in the United States in 2016, according to a new study by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

About 22 percent of foreign buyers purchasing in the United States bought in Florida, according to NAR’s 2016 Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate. California, at 15 percent, finished second. Texas, with a 10 percent share, finished third. (Complete list is below).

The new NAR study highlights Florida’s and therefore Miami’s unique ability to attract international home buyers. Miami is Florida’s top location for foreign home buyers. In Florida, Miami and Fort Lauderdale account for 50 percent of foreign sales, according to the 2015 Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida.

Foreign home buyers accounted for 36 percent or $6.1 billion of total sales volume, according to the 2015 Profile of International Home Buyers in Miami Association of Realtors Business Areas, conducted by the 41,000-member MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR). 

Miami is a worldwide brand, known around the globe for its multicultural and multilingual community. International consumers feel at home here. Miami is geographically close to Latin America and the Caribbean, offers state-of-the-art amenities, world-class beaches, nightlife, premier schools and more.

Miami is the most international city in the United States. About 51.3 percent of Miami residents are foreign born, according to the U.S. Census. Miami’s concentration of foreign-born residents is more than double the national average of 19.4 percent. Students at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation’s fourth largest school district in the U.S. with 345,000 students, speak 56 different languages and represent over 160 countries.

Top U.S. Destinations of Foreign buyers

(State’s share to number of international sales)

  1. Florida            22%

  2. California        15%

  3. Texas             10%

  4. Arizona           4%

    New York        4%

    Illinois             4%

  5. New Jersey     4%

  6. North Carolina  3%

  7. Maryland         2%

       Georgia          2%

      Connecticut       2%

      Colorado            2%

      Michigan           2%

     Nevada               2%

      Washington        2%

Origin of Florida’s Foreign Buyers

Latin America and the Caribbean comprise the largest share of Florida’s international buyers. Miami, which is home to Florida’s most populated county, is leading the way here. Miami is often nicknamed the Capital of Latin America.

About 36 percent of Florida’s foreign buyers come from Latin America and the Caribbean. Here’s the remaining breakdown: 25% from Europe, 21% from North America, 11% from Asia/Oceania, 5% didn’t disclose and 1% from Africa.

Canadians Love Florida

Florida is the No. 1 destination of foreign buyers from Canada. Canadian buyers typically purchase properties for use as vacation homes, so they tend to locate in states with warm climates and resort areas. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are perennially the top destinations for Canadians.

The United Kingdom Loves Florida

U.K. buyers mainly purchased residential property for vacation use, typically in warm-weather states of Florida, California, and Texas.


Primary Residence is Top Reason for Purchase

Forty-six percent of residential properties were purchased for use as primary residences, according to the NAR study. Non-resident foreigners, or non-U.S. citizens with permanent residences outside the United States, are more likely to purchase property as a vacation home or residential rental unit.

Seventy-two percent of non-resident foreign buyers purchased property as a vacation and/or residential rental property for investment while only 21 percent of resident foreign buyers purchased for this purpose. Resident foreigners are defined as non-U.S. citizens who are recent immigrants (in the country less than two years at the time of the transaction) or temporary visa holders residing for more than six months in the United States for professional, educational, or other reasons.

Resident foreigners significantly prefer to purchase detached single-family homes (71 percent) vs. condominiums (12 percent).

International Clients Spend More on Average

On average, foreign buyers paid $477,462 which is higher than the average price of all existing homes sold in the U.S. at $266,683. Over 10 percent of foreign buyers paid $1M and over for their property.

Among the major foreign buyers, Chinese buyers purchased residential properties that were more expensive than properties purchased by other buyers. 

Lifting the South Florida Economy 
South Florida’s unparalleled ability to attract international home buyers and world-class global developers continues to boost the local economy, lift home sales and spur state-of-the-art commercial development. Of the 500,000 new residents who moved to the Miami, Broward, Palm Beach metro area over the last five years, about 65 percent (335,000) came from other countries, according to new U.S. Census data.

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