Orlando Home Sales To Global Buyers Jumps 20 Percent In 2017

Orlando held steady in 2017 as the #2 destination of choice for Florida’s international home buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS’® 2017 Profile of International Residential Real Estate Activity in Florida. Eleven percent of all of Florida’s international home buyers opted to purchase a property in Orlando.

“The international real estate market is crucial to Orlando’s real estate industry and overall economy,” says Senior Global Real Estate Advisor, Garry Walmsley with The Orlando Agency, a Division of Global Real Estate Services, Inc. "There were approximately 61,300 Florida homes sold to foreign nationals during the 2017 study’s 12-month period. Orlando’s market share of those sales calculates to 6,743 closings, which is a 20 percent increase over the 5,640 international transactions in 2016.”

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International buyers also contribute significantly to Orlando’s dollar volume statistic. “Foreign buyer purchases tend to involve higher priced homes and accounted for 21 percent of Florida’s total residential dollar volume during the study period,” continues Walmsley. “That same 21 percent equates to $1.9 billion when applied to Orlando’s $8.8 billion worth of home sales in 2017*.”
*through November 31, 2017

Orlando was Florida’s second most desired destination of foreign home buyers in 2017 and captured 11 percent of the state’s market share (12 percent in 2016). Only the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach area, topped Orlando. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area came in third with 9 percent. Those rankings are unchanged from 2016.

There were five primary countries of origin for Florida’s international home buyers in 2017: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela. Of those five countries, Orlando ranks as the #2 collective purchase location of choice for four. (In 2016, Orlando drew 29 percent of all buyers from United Kingdom and that country’s #1 popularity ranking).

Orlando area international buyers in 2017 were mainly Latin American and Caribbean (37 percent), European (22 percent), and Asian (15 percent), but exactly who found Orlando attractive? By a large margin it was buyers from Brazil and Canada that flocked to Orlando. Those from Brazil were involved in 13 percent of Orlando’s international transactions, while Canadian nationals participated in 12 percent. The United Kingdom and Venezuela each supplied 10 percent of Orlando’s international buyers in 2017.

According to Walmsley, the increase in Venezuelan buyer activity stems from that country’s economic crisis and rapid inflation, which has caused many residents to flee or to find international markets for their assets. Walmsley also points out that the decline in U.K. buyers can be attributed to the pound’s drop against the dollar, accelerated by that county’s vote to leave the European Union.

International buyers tend to purchase properties priced higher than an area’s median price, and they are very apt to use cash because they might not have the required U.S. credit to obtain a mortgage from a U.S. source. In fact, about 72 percent of all Florida’s international transactions in 2017 were all-cash, with Canadians (86 percent) most likely to have gone that route.

Orlando’s international buyers purchase properties for both vacation and residential rental purposes. Those from Argentina and Venezuela, in particular like to take advantage of Orlando’s steady stream of tourists and invest in a rental property while those from Canada and the United Kingdom were the most likely to purchase a property for vacation use.

With its mix of resort, urban, and suburban areas, Orlando is able to accommodate foreign buyers’ ever-changing location preferences. In 2017, fewer of Florida’s foreign buyers purchased a home in an urban area, with the share at 35 percent (40 percent in 2016). Thirty-seven percent chose the suburbs, which held steady from 36 percent the year before.

The percentage of international buyers who chose to purchase a home in a resort area of Florida increased a fraction in 2017, to 15 percent from 14 percent in 2016. A decade ago, 33 percent of buyers preferred a resort area; this drop is consistent with the declining share of Canadian and U.K. buyers (from 50 percent in 2008 to less than 30 percent in 2017), who traditionally prefer such locations.