Chinese Investors Rivaling Canadians in South Florida Market

Chinese investors are gaining notice for their interest in South Florida, putting a squeeze on Canadian buyers in search of deals, according to recent reports from Florida real estate agents and researchers. While Chinese investors have long flocked to booming areas such as Manhattan, Bordeaux, London and Australia’s Gold Coast, the South Florida market has proved to be a good investment over and over, resulting in investors buying units sight unseen.

According to John Tuccillo of the trade association Florida Realtors, though Asian buyers are still minor players in the Florida market, they are proving stiff enough competition to the Canadians.

Interest has been highest among Chinese buyers in particular.

According to a recent story from The Star:

“Some of our clients got beat out recently because they were waiting to book flights. Some Chinese investors bought up 35 (townhouse-condo) units without even flying in first,” says Wayne Levy of Toronto-based Florida Home Finders.

“They looked at a picture. They wrote cheques. That’s what’s happening now.”

Asian interest in Florida has “really picked up steam in the last year,” says Levy, whose company is still seeing strong demand from Canadian buyers, but finding it increasingly challenging to find properties under $150,000 as the beleaguered U.S. housing market slowly recovers and the inventory of distressed homes drops.

“They’re seeing the U.S. as a safe haven to put their money,” says Montreal-born realtor Shant Epremian, co-founder of Boca Raton-based Pink Palm Properties, who’s just returned from two weeks in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore.

“I am slowly starting to tap into that market because there is a tremendous amount of money there. Buyers are looking for good opportunities and see that Florida is still on sale.”

Just as Chinese buyers have replaced Japanese as the dominant foreign investors on the Gold Coast, Florid will likely see the rise of Chinese investors as they beat out South American (predominately Brazilian) and Canadian buyers. Beyond the low prices of the South Florida market, interest in Florida properties is being driven by tourism and education.

Chinese investors view South Florida development, such as the EB-5 projects Via Mizner, in Boca Raton; Water Pointe, Harbourside Place and ESI Jupiter Technology Park, all of Jupiter, Florida; as solid investments based on technology, tourism and regional economic development. On top of the community-driven and economy-boosting projects, the area’s school systems offer incentive to bring families over to the United States, as opportunity is around every corner.