Foreign buyers finding the American dream

Investors from as far as Argentina, Canada, Colombia, France and Israel, Italy, Norway and Venezuela have flooded Miami looking for property deals, making up almost 90 percent of the buyers…

The Viceroy, a swish condominium complex in downtown Miami, has seen 262 of its 372 units sold since January. Its story is playing out across Miami. Individual investors from across the globe are swarming the city's sales offices to get in on what they see as one of the greatest real estate fire-sales in the history of the United States.

At one time, these people would have invested in the U.S. stock market. Now they see the opportunity of a lifetime in the nation's debilitated housing market. The idea is to rent out the properties and then sell them once the economy turns around.

The math is seductive: Prices at the Viceroy are roughly 52 percent off the 2007 peak. Units once sold for as much as $670 a square foot. Today, the average price is $319.

"I have never seen such a high concentration of foreign nationals acquiring real estate," says Peter Zalewski, who has been in real estate for 15 years and founded Condo Vultures, a consulting and brokerage firm. "Eighty percent of the sales in downtown Miami are foreign-based. This is unprecedented."

Miami is hardly the only hot spot for buyers from outside the United States. Real estate brokers say they've seen a surge in Washington, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"It's a positive in a sea of negatives," says Jonathan Miller, the chief executive of Miller Samuel, a real estate consulting firm in New York.

For the international investor class, the United States' bloated inventory of homes, high unemployment and weak currency make for an unusually attractive buyer's market.

Source: Associated Press