As demand from South Americans, the largest group of condo buyers in Miami, slows down, sales agents are making the 13,000 kilometer trek to China to market new developments in Florida.
Representatives for several Miami condo buildings flew in April to the Beijing Luxury Property Show, which attracted more than 5,200 wealthy Chinese wanting to look at international properties, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Agents for the Fendi Chateau Residences, a luxury development going up near Florida’s Bal Harbour, handed out brochures in Chinese for condos priced between US$5 million and US$22 million.
Nearby was Lauren Marks, the marketing coordinator for two luxury condo buildings: Palazzo Del Sol and the forthcoming Palazzo Della Luna, on Miami’s Fisher Island.
“I’m here on a fact-finding mission,” the report quoted Marks as saying.
“I’m trying to decide if this is the right place for us to facilitate a meaningful relationship with Chinese buyers.”
A recent study by the Miami Downtown Development Authority found that sales of new condo units still under construction have slowed, in part because a strengthening US dollar means South American investors have less buying power.
Meanwhile, Chinese buyers are beginning to take a closer look at the city.
“The Chinese are coming along very strong,” the report quoted Simon Henry, co-founder of Juwai.com, a China-based website that connects wealthy Chinese with overseas properties, as saying.
“Miami looks relatively cheap compared with some of the big cities like San Francisco and New York.”
Juwai says the average budget for Chinese buyers shopping for overseas properties on its site is US$2.3 million.
Karen Xu, 35, a Shanghai resident, is looking at one-bedroom condos in the United States as an investment.
She said she didn’t consider Miami until she saw a marketing table at the Juwai Agent Summit in Shanghai in May for Brickell Flatiron, a downtown Miami development where one-bedroom condos cost US$500,000-US$750,000.
The deputy director of a boutique investment firm, Xu was initially interested in a Manhattan home, but said they’re now too expensive.
“Two to three years ago, prices were OK,” she said. “Now people are saying, ‘Buy in Brooklyn.’ I don’t want Brooklyn.”
Only 2 percent of international buyers in Miami come from China, the Miami Association of Realtors said.
But potential changes in Chinese investment policies and the relatively strong Chinese yuan are making the Chinese look like a good bet to Miami developers.
The Chinese government is expected to begin raising annual limits on how much an individual can invest overseas from US$50,000 — although the cap is often skirted.
Chinese buyers have become an increasingly dominant force in US real estate.
The National Association of Realtors said Chinese buyers recently surpassed Canadians as the top foreign buyers of homes in the US, buying US$28.6 billion of properties in the year to March.
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