Canadian snowbirds still eyeing Florida real estate

Morgan Lowrie
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Advice for Westmounters interested in investing south of the border

If the recent cold snap in Montreal has led you to contemplate buying a vacation home in a sunnier climate, you aren’t alone.

The survey shows that Canadian buyers account for 31 percent of international buyers in Florida, down slightly from recent years.  About half of them buy condos, as opposed to single family homes or townhouses, and most intend to spend 3-6 months of the year there.

A recent survey produced on behalf of the Florida Realtors association shows that Canadians continue to account for the highest percentage of foreign buyers of Florida homes, spurred by a favourable exchange rate and rock bottom home prices.

“We’re dealing in a world where prices are starting to come back but there’s still room to go,” says Dr.  John Tuccillo, chief economist for the Florida Realtors association.   “There are areas here where there are still bargains.”

He says that although the market is improving, it is still years away from a full price recovery.

“We have gone way below the historical trend in prices in Florida.  That suggests we will see in the future a return to that historical timeline.  There is a lot of scope here for price improvement over the next 5 plus years, but there is still time.”

The survey shows that Canadian buyers account for 31 percent of international buyers in Florida, down slightly from recent years.  About half of them buy condos, as opposed to single family homes or townhouses, and most intend to spend 3-6 months of the year there.

Two-thirds of the properties purchased cost under $200,000.  Over 90 percent of the transactions were done with cash, although Tuccillo says that number can be misleading, because many buyers take a loan from their home country and use the proceeds to buy a condo in cash.

“We’re dealing in a world where prices are starting to come back but there’s still room to go,” says Dr. John Tuccillo, chief economist for the Florida Realtors association. “There are areas here where there are still bargains.”

For shoppers, Tuccillo offers the following advice.

“I would come without a lot of illusions.  Understand what the market is and where it is, so when you come you can evaluate properties in a proper way. If you come expecting to pay 20 cents on the dollar you might be disappointed.”

Secondly, he says, “Choose the location before you choose the property.  Determine where you want to be, what fits your goals and desires. One ought never to buy based simply on price.” 

He says there are lots of reasons to shop in Florida.  Besides the exchange rate and the still-attractive pricing, he cites proximity to Canada as well as linguistic and cultural similarities.

And, of course, there’s the obvious.

“There’s also the issue of ‘winter vs winter,’ Tuccillo says.  “I personally believe that if it’s going to be winter it ought to be nice and cold and snowy.  But on the other side of the coin, it’s quite a bit warmer and sunnier here.”

 

Organizations: Florida Realtors association

Geographic location: Florida, Canada

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