International Buyers in Orlando

The strengthening U.S. dollar appears to have softened an underpinning of the real estate in Orlando and elsewhere in the state: the international-buyer market.

Florida home sales to international buyers were at their lowest level in six years — although foreign buyers paid 42 percent more to own a piece of the Sunshine State than they did a year ago, according to a new report by released by the National Association of Realtors.

The impact of international sales on the state’s real-estate market dwindled from 15percent of Florida home sales a year ago to just 12percent this year.

“I think for Canadians and Europeans the exchange rate may be making it more difficult to buy in the U.S.,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR. The association, in conjunction with Florida Realtors, surveyed real estate agents for a year-long period the ended in June.

The decrease in Florida’s residential sales to foreigners is in line with a similar drop across the country.

Exchange-rate pressures are particularly troubling for the Orlando market, which relies heavily on United Kingdom buyers who are packing Euros. About 28percent of the international real-estate deals in Central Florida are driven by U.K. buyers. Brazil follows with 19percent and Venezuela with 12percent.

Jim Bagley travels parts of the world selling buyers from abroad on the Reunion golf-resort development, a vacation-rental project southwest of Orlando. What has changed about the Central Florida market is that it no longer attracts international buyers who are intent on chasing distress deals, Bagley said.

More of those deals can now be found in Spain, where a real-estate downturn has put more properties in the hands of banks, he added.

The prime reason concern of international buyers cited in this year’s survey was cost, which marked a shift from last year when the top concern was finding a property, according to the report.

Despite a 15 percent drop in international sales in Florida, that smaller pool of foreign buyers paid a median of $297,300 for residential property this year — up 42 percent from a year ago.

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