Foreign property investors starting to boost Florida property market

International property investors are increasingly interested in buying real estate in Florida with foreclosed apartments at the top of their list.

Although local buyers are entering the market again it is foreign investors who want a holiday home or to invest in the long term that are pushing the market forward, according to a report from Gerson Lehman Group.

International buyers regard the Florida market as 'desirable, profitable and secure,' the report says.

It is buyers from the UK that are most interested, says Howard Liggett, author of the report and president of Distressed Real Estate Consulting Services. They have always been keen on the sunshine state and figures from the National Association of Realtors and Florida Association of Realtors which show that Britons account for 21% of international property buyers, with 25% coming from Canada and a further 21% from the rest of Western Europe.

Analysts say that south Florida's depressed real estate market is still about six months from rock bottom, but as bargain hunters are out in force prices could start rising again.

Several brokers are noticing that distressed properties are starting to sell, and buyers, especially foreign buyers, are already eyeing the market to make sure they don't miss a feeding frenzy for cheap real estate.

'While many factors have contributed to the decline in home sales in Florida, an increase in foreign home buyers has help to decrease the amount of damage. Foreign buyers recognize US real estate as a desirable, profitable and secure investment. Also, the weak US dollar has made US, and particularly Florida, real estate investments even more attractive,' the report adds.

However, those buying foreclosed property are advised to have extra checks carried out so they do not suddenly face unexpected extra costs. US real estate firm Findire.com said that such homes have no guarantees from sellers about their quality or amenities, so it is important to appoint an appraiser to check that the utilities are in working order.

'This will save the buyer from any unnecessary expenditure when it comes to maintaining the property,' a spokesman said.