Florida is home to about 6% of the total United States population. It is also home to a whopping one quarter of total foreign investment in United States residential real estate. Since the 2008 financial crisis and housing collapse, the South Florida real estate industry has bounced back at an extraordinary rate. Due in part to foreign investors, as well as low interest rates and prices, the tax base in Florida is skyrocketing, encouraging development and investment even further.
Construction in South Florida is rampant, and expected to increase even more, with areas competing for the most attractive projects. As more foreigners raise their financial stakes in the local market, they are beginning to call Florida home, relocating aspects of their personal lives and business operations. These investor immigrants are arriving from all over the world, excited to enjoy life and do business in South Florida. However, they still need to go through an immigration process to relocate permanently.
As high-end luxury condominiums and other housing projects are built, the South Florida legal community is adapting to the particular needs of wealthy foreign investors. The demand for specialized legal services, from securing immigration status for family members to providing L-visas for intra-company transfers, is rising.
The top countries for real estate buyers include Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and Colombia. While wealthy Canadian and South American immigrants are nothing new for Florida, emerging markets in Asia are also cultivating an interest and an appetite, meaning this could mark the beginning of an even bigger boom. This increasing diversity of investment sources also means that every unique situation will require more personalized and creative legal advisement and representation.
At Stok, Folk, & Kon, we have extensive experience dealing with investor immigrants and helping them navigate the legal and tax issues associated with real estate investment. There are a number of visa incentive options available for investors to accelerate the process for those looking to make a significant investment in the U.S. economy.
Only time will tell how long the foreign investment boom in South Florida will last. It is showing signs of incremental increases in momentum and dimension. Regardless, the legal ramifications will be felt for years and years to come.