The recent decline in oil price only strengthened the case for investors to diversify their income streams, both in terms of asset and geographical diversification, and long-term panorama, remarked Roxanne Kosberg, owner and CEO of US-based Cityfirst Realty.
A licensed high-end real estate company based in Florida, Cityfirst Realty specialises in assisting mostly foreign nationals, as well as some of the world's richest and most accomplished business men and celebrities purchase or sell multi-million dollar properties.
"For Middle Eastern commercial real estate funds and investment firms, the US market is still the most desirable investment destination for foreign real estate properties, stated Kosberg.
“In 2019, South Florida recorded an all-time high of 71% sales achievement from Foreign Buyers in which 11% came from the Middle East region.” she added.
There is a significant number of foreign investors coming from the whole Middle East and its neighbouring region such as South Asia, including but not limited to UAE, Qatar, Turkey and India.
Most of their investments have a wide range starting from $1,000,000 - $50,000,000++ on residential and commercial properties located in the areas of Miami Dade County (Miami, Miami Beach, Surfside, Bal Harbour and Sunny Isles Beach).” added Roxanne.
According to her, Middle Eastern investors continue to invest in South Florida specifically for many of the same reasons as they always have.
Below are the top three reasons why Middle Easterns are still eyeing South Florida as their top property investment destination:
*Stable Economic growth
Its growth and demographics create very strong positive trend lines for long term holders, where many of their funds and direct investors seem to be. Florida’s steady GDP attracts a lot of Middle Eastern to the state.
The state is one of the top travel destinations in the world, relying on tourism to drive its economy more than any other state. The Sunshine State also relies heavily on real estate and international trade.
As of 2019, Florida had the fourth-largest economy in the United States behind California, Texas, and New York with a gross domestic (GDP) product of $1.1 trillion and a $91.1 billion budget.
High flight connectivity between the Middle East region and South Florida also has helped accelerate that demand by individuals and institutions alike.
The big three Gulf carriers, including but not limited to Emirates and Etihad Airlines have regular flights to South Florida, as well as other regional airlines and US-based carriers.
The growing volume of property investments has largely been driven by sovereign wealth funds, particularly those of Qatar and the UAE.
According to the report, favorable exchange rates and a desire to diversify assets have led these funds to seek residential and commercial real estate opportunities in the US, with Miami at the top of the deck. The easy direct flights to the Middle East from Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale Airport likely will contribute to further investment.
Some of the most notable Middle Eastern investments over the last years include the $65 million sale of the Viceroy Miami hotel to Qatari hotel investment firm Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company, Kuwait based KFH.
Capital’s $120 million purchase of the newly built Modera Town Center Apartments in Miramar, and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s acquisition of the Miami Beach EDITION hotel for $230 million in late 2015. Notably, the St. Regis Hotel in Bal Harbour, Florida was acquired by a group from Qatar in 2014 for $213 million.
Investors and home buyers from the Middle East, GCC and the UAE, in particular, love Miami’s vibrant nightlife, art and international business center.
South Florida, in particular, has a picturesque blend of glistening white sand beaches, vibrant international community, and a blossoming entrepreneurial sector. With Condominiums, Townhomes, Single Family Homes, Estates and Executive Homes available in Miami-Dade County, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County and the Palm Beaches, the destination offers the investors endless options to experience South Florida’s cosmopolitan lifestyle.
"Thanks to its gorgeous weather, South Florida enjoys year-round activities and festivals, including Art Basel, Winter Music Conference, the Miami and Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and many more. Plus, the Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins, Miami Marlins, Florida Panthers and Miami Hurricanes play sports year-round, which gives you non-stop options for athletic entertainment," explained Kosberg.
"If you enjoy weekend getaways, South Florida offers multiple options for family-friendly adventures. With the Florida Keys, Walt Disney World, and the Bahamas all nearby, vacations are just a quick drive, flight, or cruise away," she stated.
Kosberg pointed out that the Middle East was part of an increasingly larger array of countries purchasing Miami real estate.
"We at Cityfirst Realty help our international buyers choose the best properties and negotiate the best prices and terms due to our long-standing expertise in the real estate market, as well as facilitate the closing process through our network of high specialized lawyers and accountants. Everything is done in the most personalized fashion to attend the needs of our clients. We are always here for them," she added.