In order to help his clients close on units at the luxury St. Tropez condominium in Sunny Isles Beach, developer Joe Milton recently put up $100 million of his company's cash to set up a mortgage company to fund loans.
That's because foreign buyers -- a key factor in the recent surge in home sales in South Florida -- are often locked out of the market if they don't have cash in hand.
``Sixty percent of our buyers are foreign,'' yet there are no loans being made to foreign nationals, said Milton, president and chief executive of J. Milton & Associates in Coral Gables.
While foreign cash buyers have certainly boosted sales, Milton wants to make sure financing isn't the issue keeping even more from owning a home in South Florida.
``International buyers are activating this market and reactivating sales,'' said Jenny Huertas, the international sales director for Condo Vultures, a Bal Harbour-based brokerage and consultancy.
Huertas returned two weeks ago from Bogotá where she conducted an investment seminar for about 50 people at Gran Estación, one of the city's largest shopping complexes. She's part of a growing caravan of real estate professionals trekking to Latin American and elsewhere to recruit new investors.
The spectacular meltdown of the region's once white-hot housing scene has caught the attention of global buyers who may have once considered U.S. real estate out of reach.
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