SW Florida Draws Strength from Retirees, Foreign Buyers


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, November 24, 2017 – In May this year, an industry analysis cited the North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton area as one of the “10 biggest comeback stories” from the 2007 U.S. real estate crash. It estimated an 8 percent annual price growth for our region since the market bottomed out in 2011.

The strong influx of retirees, according to this research, came as a major driver to this remarkable recovery of Sarasota homes for sale. Separately, a more recent market reading indicates that foreign buying too has much to do with the sustained upturn in the Southwest Florida home market.

International Sales Up

Internation Real Estate Activity

In the 2017 Profile of International Residential Real Estate Activity in Florida released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) just this November, the North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton area counted amongst the state’s five metros where most foreign buyers gravitate. The NAR study noted that our region accounted for 5 percent of all foreigners who purchased homes in Florida between August 2016 and July 2017.

During this 12-month period, NAR estimated that foreign buyers took a 21 percent share of Florida’s total sales value, up 2 percent on a year-to-year basis. Volume-wise, foreigners bought 61,300 Florida residences (compared with 47,000 in 2016), constituting 15 percent of Florida’s home market (12 percent in 2016).

The Sunshine State remained as the top U.S. destination for buyers from overseas searching for available residences, accounting for 22 percent of all foreign buyers. Foreign purchases of Florida homes during the 12 months ended July 2017 rose to $24.2 billion, a $4.8 billion gain from $19.4 billion a year earlier.

Canadians’ Interest Mounts

Canadian Market Share

Canadian buyers, along with Europeans, notably dominate foreigners buying homes in the North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton metro. Canadians got a 36 percent share of all home buying by foreigners in our metro, while Europeans accounted for a 37 percent slice. Overseas buyers from Asia and Oceania were also significant in the metro with a 10 percent take.

State-wide, Canadians increased their share in home purchases to a 22 percent slice of the total, which compares with a 19 percent share a year earlier. All other buyers from overseas either declined or remained steady in numbers.

NAR analysts traced the increased Canadian buying in Florida to Canada’s robust economic growth and to the Canadian dollar stabilizing versus the U.S. dollar. Price appreciation of U.S. homes, they also noted, were more modest compared with that in Canada.

Mood Remains Upbeat

Moving forward, the NAR study expects Florida to remain as the top U.S. home buying destination for foreigners because of the state’s natural attributes, which include its warm climate, natural beauty and attractive beaches. NAR likewise notes the upbeat expectations of Florida real estate agents who interacted with more international clients this year compared with the rest of their U.S. peers (45 percent versus 29 percent).

The same rosy outlook could be said on the North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton area remaining a magnet to home-buying retirees. More and more baby boomers are entering their retirement years, and the metro has consistently positioned itself as one of the best places to retire in the U.S. The region’s vibrant arts and culture scene, pristine beaches and historic character are reasons enough to draw not only retirees but also foreigners wanting a slice of the Florida lifestyle here.