Miami Realtors show off properties to foreign brokers
By Samantha Joseph
About 50 foreign real estate agents this month visited Greater Miami as part of an effort to bring international attention to South Florida properties.
The brokers came from Sweden, Uruguay and even Russia - a country whose investors are emerging as increasingly important players in Miami-Dade County real estate.
The visits brought 41 brokers from Russia - a country that is emerging as a significant player in Florida real estate, particularly in Sunny Isles Beach.
"More than 50% of the developments in Sunny Isles are by Russians," said Russian Center of Florida president Isaac Feldman, who also heads All Nations Realty, where about 70% of the agents speak fluent Russian.
The visitors were the guests of the Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches Inc., which has been pursuing international partnerships for several years.
The idea, say local Realtors, is to give their international counterparts first-hand experience of Florida properties in hopes that the brokers help point homebuyers to the state.
By forming partnerships with foreign brokers, local Realtors say, they gain immediate access to a growing European target market and a steady pool of Latin Americans looking to safeguard their money by investing in South Florida's stable real estate.
"If you think about the number of people that are here in Miami who have come from another country, every one of these people amounts to the potential for one to 10 referrals," said Teresa King Kinney, CEO of the Miami Realtor group.
Among the visitors was Wilder Ananikian, head of Camara Inmobiliaria Uruguaya. "We're leaving with a good reference point on the market and how it has improved over the last few years," said Mr. Ananikian, president of the group that represents 400 real estate companies. "We plan to return to Uruguay and offer Miami properties as an option for people in the market for second homes."
The Uruguayan group is one of 40 organizations with partnership agreements with the Miami organization. The group has pursued relationships with colleagues on at least two continents and has ties to Sweden, Ireland, Brazil, Mexico and other countries.
"There are many other markets in Europe that we will be linked to," Ms. King Kinney said.
Earlier this year, banker Carlos Migoya estimated that foreign investors own about 60% of Miami-Dade's high-rise condominium developments.
"If you look at condo buyers in Sunny Isles, a big percentage of those are Russian investors," said Mr. Migoya, regional president of Wachovia Bank, a major real estate financier.
The relationship between Florida brokers and the Russian Guild of Realtors will provide a link to about 10,000 local properties on the guild's Web site, Ms. King Kinney said.
"Right now, any of their members and the public can search their website for (Realtors) and properties here in Miami," she said, "and they can search them in Russian."