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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Realtors pursue international investors

BRADENTON, Fla. – Oct. 9, 2008 – Florida is becoming a hot spot in the global real estate market.

Declining property prices coupled with a desirable climate is making the state an attractive investment and bargain for foreign buyers.

And local real estate professionals are taking advantage of that appeal and doing more to establish international relationships.

“The past couple of years with the declining dollar, Florida has become a magnet to international investors,” said Ivo Travnicek, of Florida Venture Partners LLC, a Sarasota firm that serves as a managing partner for foreign investors.

While property transactions in Florida have declined over the past three years, the number of international buyers in the state has grown, according to a joint survey by the National Association of Realtors and Florida Association of Realtors.

Florida Venture Partners are among several local companies to extensively network overseas in an attempt to profit from the increasing number of international buyers.

On Friday, the group leaves for Europe to begin a week-long trip aimed to attract buyers from Prague and Slovakia.

Sarasota lawyer Alan Tannenbaum, who formed the group with Travnicek and Realtor Ian Black, said this will be the group’s fourth trip in a year to Central and Eastern Europe in which they’ve showcased a portfolio of property ranging between $22 million to $100 million to the area’s top investors.

“The trips have built on each other,” Tannenbaum said. “I think you’re going to see over the next six months a real substantial amount of transactions that are going to occur.”

The number of international buyers of Florida property from 2005 to 2008 has doubled.

According to about 5,000 Florida Realtors who participated in a survey by the National Association of Realtors, international purchases made up 30 percent of Florida property sales reported between August 2007 and August 2008.

In 2008, the Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice area ranked third on the top destinations for international property purchases as reported by Realtors in the survey.

Luxury real estate companies that are well established internationally, too, are taking an aggressive approach to establishing global relationships.

Today, Michael Saunders, president of Michael Saunders & Co., is speaking in London to the National Association of Estate Agents about the importance of networking.

Tom Heatherman, corporate communications director for Michael Saunders, said Saunders’ speech will be the key note address at a meeting. She will discuss the value of effective international networking.

Saunders’ trip to London follows networking conferences she attended in Rome and Madrid, and precedes a global conference she will attend in Bermuda later this year.

“Michael more than anyone else is a proponent of networking at all times,” Heatherman said. “It’s the networking you do in the bad times that set you up for the good times.”

Terry Hayes, an agent with SKY Sotheby’s International Realty, said Anna Maria Island has a strong reputation for attracting European buyers.

Hayes said SKY Sotheby’s had the opportunity to further showcase Anna Maria property to international investors at conference held in Boca Raton in May.

“We were able to go over there and really feature our properties on the West Coast with a lot of international agents visiting,” Hayes said of the conference that was attended by 1,500 agents representing 23 countries.

“I certainly haven’t stopped advertising in the international market,” Hayes said. “The international market has always been attracted to this part of the market. They still think it’s a beautiful place to own a home.”

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