Southwest Florida’s gravitational pull of sand and sun reaches far and wide. In fact, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers and Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro areas make up about 3 percent of Florida’s total foreign buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) 2016 International Residential Real Estate Activity in Florida report.
The international buyers of Southwest Florida—namely Europeans and Canadians, who account for most of the area’s activity—are heavy drivers in our economy. Experts say buyers prefer beachfront properties, which tend to be significantly above the average home prices in Southwest Florida.
“Canadian buyers alone spent $69 million on property in Lee County just last year,” says Wendy Humphrey, a Premier Sotheby’s International Realty agent who deals in the Sanibel and Captiva islands area.
From 2015 to 2016, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area saw a 0.5 percent increase in foreign buyers; however, the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island area saw a 0.7 percent decrease, according to the NAR report.
The slowing market in Collier County could be due to a stronger U.S. dollar, says Teri Cardon, Realtor with the Cardon Team at Amerivest Realty, who hails from Canada and deals in the Naples area.
Over the years, the Canadian and European dollars have lessened in value, both Cardon and Humphrey say. Now, one Canadian dollar equals 0.76 U.S. dollars, and the value of the euro has dropped from $1.35 a few years ago to $1.06, Humphrey says.
The decreased values mean foreign buyers will likely examine Southwest Florida properties differently going forward. Humphrey says internationals may start to select lower-priced properties, while Cardon says she is already seeing buyers “looking at investment properties in the area to get a U.S. income stream.”