A Variety Of Buyers


who's buying expensive homes in Tampa.

Florida seeing a quite invasion of buyers drawn here by a potent array of the market forces as compelling as the climate. Although wealthy foreigners have bought Florida homes since the state was settled, and Latin's have come to Tampa & Miami for decades, For one, buyers are coming from many parts of the world. And two, their purchases aren't confined to just one part of the state, but are heating up real estate markets all around Florida, foreign demand is so strong Fueling much of the interest from overseas is the belief that Florida real estate is a good investment as well as a good value,

Latins see Florida property as a relatively affordable way to add a piece of the U.S. to their portfolios, in Florida, buyers from South America are leading the parade. Of all homes and condos now have foreign owners, with the South American as the leading source of purchasers. " the Latin market is bigger than all the other European markets put together." especially Latin Americans,

They are fueling the biggest condo-building boom in nearly 20 years. Forty-five condo buildings with 7,000 new units, normally about a five year supply, are under construction or planned for the next four years foreign investment exceeded $1billion in Dade-Broward-Palm Beach and now in Hillsborough counties for the first time since 1980's.

For example, about half of all new condos units are being sold to foreign buyers. Williams Island, an 80-acre playground for the rich in Aventura, will open its seventh tower this summer. To pique the interest of wealthy foreign customers in the $1 to $5 million dollars condos Williams Island runs seven sales offices in Latin America, including ones in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Bogota and Mexico City. " They just doubled the size of their Sao Paulo office,"

Earlier this year an Orlando developer will market a waterfront high-rise just north of Miami Beach, some of the most costly and aggressive real estate marketing abroad is being done in south Florida and has targeted the Latin American market for a new project a planned 40-story, ocean front tower just north of Miami Beach. To drum up buyers, the company runs 18 sales office in 16 Latin Americans countries.

But we don't have to overcome that closed eye on Latin America. My friend from Equador bought an oceanfront condominium in Key Biscayne Island in Miami Florida for $3 million dollars they could have vacationed closer to home in South America but they felt safer in south Florida " Gaby says the comfort we have here doesn't exist in Equador," Equador is not as secure as Miami. It's better organized and very comfortable here and we have a very tight security condominium. We're much happier here."

 The buyers come from a variety of backgrounds, Some are entrepreneurs who own businesses or franchises in the Tampa Bay area. Others are executives for local firms. Others used to own businesses elsewhere in the United States but sold their firms and moved to Florida to retire or start new companies.

In addition, , people are willing and able to spend more money on housing today than they could in the past, thanks to favorable interest rates and a desire to shift investments from equities into real estate.

Luxury housing is in demand all across the country, Homes costing $1 million or more make up about 5 percent of home sales in the country. California and Florida lead the country in million-dollar sales,

some differences between the luxury-home buyers in Pinellas and Hillsborough. Many Pinellas buyers are looking for second homes, while Tampa buyers are likely to be corporate executives or entrepreneurs looking for primary residences.

149 sales of homes costing $1 million or more in Hillsborough last year, compared with 182 sales in Pinellas.

Trump Tower Tampa doesn't signal the emergency of a luxury housing market it's already here, real estate experts say. What it does represent is a new type of luxury housing development: one that favors high-rise towers and promises urban amenities and activities instead of suburban seclusion.

Trump and his local partners aren't alone in the race to build luxury condominium towers in Tampa:

Westshore Yacht Club, a residential community with nearly 500 homes and a marina. Plans include three condominium towers. Prices will run from $400,000 to more than $3 million.

construction has started on The Bellamy, a 64-unit condominium tower in Tampa with price tags ranging from $600,000 to $3.2 million.

The Plaza, a 142-unit tower and town house project with prices starting near $400,000 and running to $3 million.

The Alagon, a 23-story, 50-unit condominium.

Luxury Without Responsibility

two reasons for the luxury tower trend in Tampa: First, there's not enough waterfront land available for new single-family construction, and second, many wealthy baby boomers living in single-family homes are looking for condos because their children no longer live at home.

"A lot of buyers have aged up, and they do not want the responsibility of their large home anymore, but they want the luxury lifestyle,"

couple with a reservation at Trump Tower Tampa, said they were interested in moving downtown because their children are grown and they no longer need a big house and yard.

such empty nesters who live in south Tampa make up about 70 percent of the buyers at The Bellamy.

"A lot of those people, when the nest gets empty, consider an alternative lifestyle," "We thought that a luxury condominium would allow them to stay closer to their roots right here in the south Tampa market."

Doing Their Homework

Trump and other high-end condominium developers aren't targeting Tampa on a hunch.

"Before you bring out the shovels, there's probably at least a year, or maybe two years, worth of work,". That work includes detailed studies of demographics and market trends, in addition to research about what else has been developed in the area and how well those homes have sold,

A company does a lot of research before it enters a new market.

"Does Tampa have the depth of high-end home buyers that New York or Miami has? Of course not," "But we look at markets where we can anticipate opportunities to develop the kind of product that we like to develop. We saw Tampa as a market that's underserved."

studied Tampa's growth before committing to the Plaza project, looking at the employment growth and the number of corporations active here. It also looked at the history of high-end home sales on Harbour Island and the growing number of downtown attractions such as the aquarium, the theaters and museums, and the retail shops.

also pored over the economic and demographic indicators for Tampa before committing to its first project in Hillsborough County. the company had a good handle on what was happening in Tampa and sensed a pent-up demand for luxury condominiums here,. Many people in Tampa expressed an interest in downtown St. Petersburg condominium tower, the Florencia,.

Trump Tower Tampa could prove to be a catalyst for additional luxury development in downtown Tampa.

"Certainly there's a lot of room, I think, if the downtown area takes on enough of a transformation where there is an outstanding pedestrian environment, where you can walk out of your building and get to all the conveniences and cultural events and shopping," he said. "I think that will be a very sustainable market."