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Why Buying a Home in Florida Isn't a Mickey Mouse Choice

The property market in Florida was one of the first to be hit by America's current economic issues. As one of the most popular yet over-developed markets where there's a high percentage of second homes and buy to let investment properties, the Floridian market was hit hard by falling real estate prices, lack of mortgage product and decreasing affordability. Inevitably these issues resulted in high numbers of foreclosures, in builders ceasing construction and buyers being conspicuous by their absence. But as with any market where there are fundamental and undeniable reasons behind a historically strong level of demand, the Floridian market is now one of the first in the US to begin rebounding.

Supporting the intrinsic 'value' of property in Florida is the Sunshine State's tourism market - and despite America's economic woes and the knock on effect that these have had in the UK and Europe, there was no decline in terms of international demand for holidays in Florida in 2007. There was a healthy 2% increase in the numbers of visitors arriving last year, and the 48.7 million people who did visit increased spending by 4.7%, adding $31.1 billion to Florida's coffers. Home to 3 of the top 10 beaches in America, Walt Disney World, Kennedy Space Centre, Universal Studios and an exceptionally temperate climate almost all year round, Florida is one of the leading tourism destinations in the world, and it's this fact that underpins the viability of the state's real estate market.

Against an ongoing backdrop of economic tension in America, Florida's property market is gaining ground and rebounding; and two of the areas of the state that are growing stronger faster are Sarasota, home to Siesta Beach, the third most popular beach in the whole of America, and Orlando, home to the massive National Association of Realtors' (NAR) Conference & Expo 2008 and the best theme parks in Florida!

John Mike, NAR President's Liaison to the UK comments: "The real estate market throughout Florida declined dramatically from mid 2005 to Spring 2008, with positive signs of stabilization occurring in recent months. The impact of overvalued properties combined with increasingly fragile credit markets and stricter mortgage standards were primary influences on this decline. Prices have softened throughout Florida during this period, especially in 2008 with the acceptance by sellers of the reality of the 'new' market and of the need for realistic market pricing. Stabilization is occurring in what may be regarded as the 'prime' markets in Florida such Sarasota. Such areas have seen significant increases in volume over the last year as buyers have taken advantage of the price reductions."

British buyers have certainly been taking advantage of softening prices, a strong pound, vendors' willingness to exit the market and the simplicity and security of the buying process in Florida, and they've been making excellent headway. Even now that the dollar has gained strength against a weaker pound, the fact that there exists in Florida both insatiable demand for holiday accommodation and developer and vendor willingness for negotiation means that savvy investors are investing in high grade property stock today, such as properties on developments with golf courses designed by celebrity golfers, knowing that it will almost certainly reap them incredibly strong gains and dividends over the long-term.

According to James Wyatt, MD of Barton Wyatt International: "There is such a wealth of affordable and seriously attractive real estate on the market in Florida at the moment that investors and buyers really are in the driving seat and can push for very attractive terms and conditions at the point of sale. And because the dollar is showing indications of rebounding against the pound, now's the time for investors to move in. All of the sagacious investors and buyers whom we counsel and assist know that the purchases they make today are enduring investments that will have the very best chance of the very highest returns over at least the mid to long-term."

In terms of what's available, at the very high end are 33 exclusive homes for sale at Nicklaus Manor in Sarasota, an award winning golf development designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. Individual home plots start from $400,036/£215,000 and completed properties from $1,711,782/£920,000. Or what about the villas at the Reunion Resort & Club in Orlando that start from $339,031/£180,000 and are located on "a new breed of family resort"? This luxury resort boasts an unprecedented complete lifestyle, with engaging activities and luxury for the entire family. The epic vision begins with three signature golf courses from renowned designers Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. For more information, please contact Barton Wyatt International on 01344 843000 or visit www.bw-international.com.

October 8, 2008



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