The high price of real estate in Brazil, combined with the strength of the Brazilian real against the US dollar, has sent wealthy Brazilians flocking to Florida in search of bargains.
The real has gained 45% against the US dollar since 2008, making property irresistibly cheap, especially as São Paulo, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro are now more expensive than any city in the US, according to a survey by ECA International. Prices of Brazilian property have gone up by around 25% during the last 12 months, with prices increasing by up to 44% in Rio.
In contrast property prices in the US are now at 2003 levels, and according to the S & P/Case Shiller index, homes in the Miami area cost around 51% less than their December 2006 peak. The average condominium in South Beach cost $354 a square foot during the first quarter of 2011, whereas five years ago it would have been anything between $500 and $1000 a square foot.
In the 12 months up to March this year, Brazilians purchased 9% of real estate sold to international buyers; only the Canadians and Venezuelans have been buying more, but the Miami Association of Realtors expect this percentage to have increased significantly. Overall, sales of Miami condos have increased by 92% during the first four months of this year, according to data from the Florida Association of Realtors.
Current data indicates that up to 50% of all downtown Miami condos sold for more than $500,000 since the turn of the year have been purchased by Brazilians.They are also buying more expensive properties, with Brazilian investors accounting for around 50% of sales for homes costing more than $1 million in Miami Beach.
Real estate agents in Miami are busy learning Portunol, a Portuguese Spanish mix spoken by Brazilians. There have also been reports of real estate agents poaching employees who are fluent in Portuguese.