Brazilians buying Florida

They are streaming into Miami flush with cash - buying up real estate, going on shopping mall spending sprees.

Florida, particularly Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando are catering to the crowd, even hiring Portuguese speaking employees at some favored stores.

In a state beat-up by unemployment and a brutal housing market, the Brazilian dollars are coveted.

Brazilians, pockets full of cash from a booming economy and a favorable exchange rate, are coming to the U.S. in record numbers. More than a dozen flights a day bring them to their favorite destination, Miami.

Not just to vacation and shop, but to buy. Five years ago, Christiano Piquet, Brazilian, opened a small real state agency in Miami hoping to capitalize on the wave he saw coming. He now has 75 employees. 80% of Piquet's clients are Brazilian.

"Here is a great opportunity to make money," says Piquet, President of Piquet Realty.

Luanne Lenberg, Sawgrass Mills general manager, has seen an evolution in the Brazilian shopper.

"Used to be the majority would come on busses, in groups. They're now coming over with their families making individual trips and they're coming in and renting a rental car, " says Lenberg.

In Orlando, mall bus tours are huge, and getting bigger. Pegasus Tours carried 15 thousand Brazilians in 2011. They say business may double this year in Florida. 

With 10 percent unemployment and a  depressed housing market, Brazilians are shelling out Benjamins. Couldn't have come at a better time.


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