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Canadian Snowbirds Flock to South Florida

South Florida real estate brokers have noticed an upswing in inquiries from Canadian snowbirds, and are welcoming them with open arms (It’s a Canadian Snowbird’s Market in South Florida). In the area north of Miami, from Hallandale Beach to Fort Lauderdale to Boca Raton, there has been a convergence of Canadian interest in purchasing real estate. First, a sustained, strong Canadian housing market has led many to cash out. There is also a desire among an aging population to look for convenience and luxury as retirement nears.

With a soft real estate market, brokers are anticipating a significant number of Canadian buyers looking to invest in a vacation property and ultimately a place to enjoy the warm weather during their retirement years.

A Toronto-based realtor, Janice Fox, is handling Canadian requests for information on the Four Seasons condominium in Fort Lauderdale, saying her agency is “really appealing to the Baby Boomers.” Although many of her clients are not retired, they are cashing out on their big homes and “purchasing luxury condos in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver… and looking for luxury vacation homes in Florida.”

Florida always holds an appeal for its warmer climate, especially after a brutally cold winter up north.  December brought record cold in Canada with temperatures dropping below zero in Toronto. Montreal saw six straight days of 1.4 degrees F.

Some interest, according to Ms. Fox, could also be attributed to the cachet that The Four Seasons (based in Canada) represents to wealthy Canadians, who are used to five-star properties. Although brokers expressed concerns due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, it appeared to have little or no effect on vacationers. Rob Siemens, director of his eponymous group, is developing luxury condos at Boca West Country Club. He maintains the majority of Canadian buyers believe “the benefits of a warm-weather lifestyle outweigh the risk of hurricanes and rising water levels.”

Simon Mass, CEO of a Toronto-based real estate development firm, The Rousseau Group, has enjoyed his visits to Florida over the past two decades. As he sees other Canadian executives like himself, “too young to be an official snowbird,” unwilling to tolerate the bitter Canadian winter, yet able to work remotely.

Mr. Mass, 46 years old, has purchased a condo at the Ritz Carlton in South Beach and also owns a house on one of Miami Beach’s residential islands. Obviously, Mr. Mass is not concerned with the storm season. Neither are his friends who are “looking at a 5 to 10 year ownership span for themselves, so everybody feels fairly comfortable” that nothing terrible will happen in that time frame.

A number of well-established Canadians have already settled in Miami. However, as Miami and Aventura are becoming more and more crowded and traffic is becoming more difficult with each passing season, many Canadians are looking toward moving further north. They are looking to upgrade to more modern homes and condos with top-rated amenities. They also like the fact that there are more non-stop flights from Toronto to Ft. Lauderdale.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ report on international activity in U.S. residential real estate, of all foreigners purchasing homes in the U.S., “Canadians have been among the top buyers in terms of number of units purchased and dollar volume. Throughout the U.S., Canadian buyers purchased $19 billion of residential property in 2017, up from $8.9 billion in 2016!

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