Last month, we took a weeklong “stay-cation” to entertain visiting family from out of town. That not only gave us a chance to be wide-eyed tourists in our own town, but also to catch up on the impressive array of cultural amenities we too often take for granted.
Typical mornings were spent relaxing on Siesta Key Beach—America’s top-rated seashore for 2011—followed by afternoons exploring such cultural landmarks as the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Evenings were a blend of theater, music, fine dining; and a nightspot or two.
Experiencing these pleasures made us realize how fortunate we are to live in an area so rich in recreational, cultural and culinary amenities. That we don’t have to travel far to enjoy them is itself an amazing amenity.
Even more amazing was the number of people we encountered who had obviously traveled long distances to enjoy a few days of our enviable lifestyle. Judging by the plethora of different languages we heard on the beaches, in the bistros and just about everywhere we went, not a few international travelers have come here from such far-flung places as Germany, India, the U.K., China, Russia and Latin America. Because their accents don’t sound foreign to our ears, we were probably surrounded by hundreds of Canadians as well.
As long as anyone can remember, the Sunshine State has been the destination of choice for foreign vacationers to the U.S. Now a significant number of them are taking their love of Florida to the next level. Vastly reduced home prices and a sound dollar here at home—combined with increasing economic instability abroad—have foreigners buying U.S. properties in record numbers.
According to the 2012 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, just released by the National Association of REALTORS®, residential sales to foreign buyers grew by an astounding 24% during the past year. This accounted for over $82 billion in closed volume—or nearly 9% of all U.S. property sales. 26% of these purchases took place in Florida, more than the next three closest states combined (California, Arizona and Texas).
As an upshot of this phenomenon, Southwest Florida has become one of the most sought-after second-home markets in a state that boasts more property sales to foreign buyers than any other. Since May 2011, 6.5% of the homes purchased in the Sarasota-Bradenton-North Port market area had a foreign mailing address listed on the property deed.
At Michael Saunders & Company, our on-going partnerships with the world’s leading brokerage networks help make certain that our sellers’ properties get the most international exposure possible. Because of this, 13% of our closed transactions in 2011 involved foreign buyers—exactly double the market.
These brokerage partners—who operate 6,000 offices with 200,000 agents in 52 countries—include Christie’s International Real Estate, Luxury Portfolio International, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Mayfair International Realty. Plus, they refer countless buyers to Florida from thousands of member offices throughout the U.S. and Canada. Indeed, Canadians alone were responsible for nearly a quarter of all U.S. property sales to foreign buyers in 2012.
For most sellers, a buyer is a buyer is a buyer. What country they come from is immaterial as long as there is mutual agreement to the terms of the sale. However, sellers like to know that their properties will seen by as many potential buyers as possible. Over the past year, agents with Michael Saunders & Company brought buyers to transactions in all price ranges nearly 20% more often than their next closest competitor. For properties priced over $1 million, they brought the buyer to the transaction twice as often. (Source: Trendgraphix).
With foreign and domestic buyers as active as they’ve been in many years, it’s finally a good time to sell. With inventories so low that many sellers are receiving multiple offers, be sure to list your home where it will receive as much as double the exposure.