Impact 5: International buyers boosting home prices

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - From Canada, to France, and all the way from China, foreign buyers are purchasing homes all over south Florida. Oakton Preserve, a new townhome community off Okeechobee West is a hot spot for international buyers.

They've bought six of the 15 homes already sold there.

Realtor John Mike has sold dozens of homes to international buyers.

"People all over the world like living here," Mike said.

Many, such as Raymond Hawkins from England, say even before the housing crisis, you couldn't beat the prices in the United States.

"It seems like a lot less than in England.  If you compare them, they're probably half the price. You get a lot more for your money here," Hawkins said.

Stephane Sadovic, who just moved here from Paris, agrees.

He, as well as most other foreign buyers, paid cash for a short sale in Wellington.

"When you come over from Europe you don't have a credit history here so it's very hard to get decent financing, so you better have cash to be able to purchase," Sadovic said.

Mike says the housing crisis has attracted more cross-border buyers in recent years.

"The drop in prices in Palm Beach county has actually stimulated more buying from overseas buyers who see fantastic bargains and values in our area," Mike said.

George Stamas, a professor of finance and entrepreneurship at Northwood University agrees. International buyers are helping the recovery.

"I think at the moment, international investors are helping to stabilize the market," Stamas said. "So if you own a home, you appreciate the foreign investor."

Buying a home from abroad is a more complicated process of course. But REALTORS say they have a team of people who help buyers easily complete the process.

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