Experts say surge in Caribbean real estate investors in South Florida is legit
Despite the recent “Panama Papers” scandal exposing foreign real estate investors in South Florida for money laundering and tax evasion, local experts say the recent increase in buyers from the Caribbean is all above board.
“There’s every indication that the transactions are above board and legitimate,” says Davie realtor Nina Hart, who has many new clients from Jamaica investing in South Florida.
Hart said she cannot see how a Jamaican investor, for example, could camouflage their purchases by illegitimate means, as “since 2008, stringent steps have been taken to ensure comprehensive due diligence is conducted in real estate transactions in South Florida involving foreigners. Buyers must be able to identify verifiable source of funding for all real estate transactions.”
Certification of funding is required, said Hart, from legitimate financial institutions in Jamaica or other foreign countries. “Someone just can’t travel to South Florida with a bag of cash to purchase a residential property. The funds provided must be verified, usually by wire transfer from the foreign financial institution, sent to and held in an escrow account by an attorney until the closing of the sale. If the transaction involves a U.S. financial institution the buyer must provide all the required documentation demanded.”
Most of the recent investment, says Miami realtor Mazie Cohall, has been primarily driven by the recent rise in rental prices, and the potential profits.
“Foreigners purchase these properties, especially apartments and condos, refurbish them and rent them at high market prices, which they are getting,” says Cohall “As rents increase, so does the demand from foreign investors for more properties.”
Originally from Belize, Cohall also believes the growing Caribbean-American residential market in South Florida, “is attracting Caribbean real estate investors who recognize a ready-made market for their rental properties from their Caribbean compatriots.”
In additional to high demand areas such as Downtown Miami, says Cohall, investors are attracted to “North Miami and Lauderhill in Broward County,” which have high Caribbean populations.
That’s what Jamaican investor Germane is looking for, who is collaborating with partners to purchase rental properties for refurbishing and sub-letting in South Florida.
“We are working with Jamaican and Miami banks, Miami realtors, and attorneys, in our transactions,” said Germane. “We are aware there is a spotlight on foreign investors and want to ensure utmost transparency.”
“It is a pleasure doing business with these Caribbean buyers,” says Cohall. “They come to the market professionally, not hesitant to reveal source of funding and provide the necessary documentation required by the federal government.”