Condos in Miami.

South Florida housing is an even bigger draw for foreign buyers, whose spending bumped up by double digits in the latest annual report.

Foreign buyers spent $7.1 billion on 15,400 properties in the year ended July 2017 in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties, about 14.5 percent more than the previous year, according to a Miami Association of Realtors study.

But in Miami-Dade, fewer foreign buyers were seen, according to the association’s 2017 Profile of International Home Buyers. They represented 51 percent of all buyers, down from 66 percent of all buyers the previous year and 69 percent the year before.

Foreign buyers represent less than half of the market in other South Florida counties.

“It’s huge when you compare it to other areas in the U.S. and in Florida even to other counties,” said association senior vice president Lynda Fernandez. “Miami-Dade County will always be the most international market in the U.S. and will continue to attract international buyers, and they will continue to be a very important force in our market. ”

In Broward County, foreign buyers were 32 percent of all home purchasers, up from 27 percent the prior year. In Palm Beach County, they represented 9 percent of all homebuyers, up from 4 percent the prior year, according to the study.

Foreigners could have been looking beyond Miami-Dade to get more for their money, Fernandez said. Miami-Dade traditionally has been popular with Latin Americans, but a weak economic recovery in some Latin American countries also could account for the drop in Miami-Dade, she added.

Notably, the Canadian dollar remained stable against the U.S. dollar, and the share of Canadian buyers increased, while the U.S. dollar strengthened against the Venezuelan bolívar and the share of Venezuelan buyers in the region decreased, according to the study. Brazilians and Colombians also made less of a showing in the study.

“Canadians favor Broward over Miami-Dade, so if there were economic factors that were helping Canadians or incentivizing Canadians to purchase more property in South Florida, then that would definitely cause an increase in that sense,” Fernandez said.

It’s no surprise then that Canadians were the best represented in Broward, accounting for 12 percent of all foreign buyers. Argentina followed at 8 percent, while Brazilians, Colombians and Venezuelans each held 6 percent of the market share, according to the study.

Canadians also seem to favor Palm Beach County where they were 31 percent of all foreign buyers, followed by Brazilians at 15 percent, according to the study.

Venezuelans, despite hyperinflation at home, still were the majority among all foreign homebuyers in Miami-Dade at 12 percent, the study found. Argentina and Brazil each held 9 percent of the market share in Miami-Dade, and Colombians represented 5 percent of all foreign buyers.

Other foreigners who bought homes in South Florida were people from the UK, China and Germany each representing 3 percent of international sales in the region, and Russians represented 2 percent, according to the study.

 

WHO BUYS?

Most foreign buyers paid cash and didn’t buy with plans to move here permanently, preferring to invest or vacation, according to the study. About 66 percent of sales were all-cash deals, down from 72 percent the previous year.

About 38 percent of foreign buyers planned to rent their new purchases, and 15 percent said they  were buying a vacation home, according to the study.

And that’s characteristic across the region, Fernandez said.

“Foreign buyers who primarily reside abroad accounted for 69 percent of the foreign buyers compared with the 42 percent nationally, which I think is characteristic of our area. They are using it as an investment or to spend part of their vacation here, but they are not moving here necessarily,” she said.

Foreign buyers spent a median $339,300 compared with $302,300 spent by foreigners buying in the rest of the U.S. and $259,400 elsewhere in Florida, the study found.

The Miami Association of Realtors, a trade organization for brokers, Realtors and other real estate professionals, did the study with the National Association of Realtors by sending surveys to its 45,000 members in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties. A total of 636 responses were received.

The study has been done annually since 2011.