Foreign investors snapping up Orlando properties

Foreign investors are buying up rental properties around Orlando, and many of them say Disney is the reason.

An article by Kenneth Rapoza published on Forbes dives into sales figures for multi-unit resort complexes in the Orlando area, finding that foreign buyers make up a substantial share of their buyers.

One property detailed is The Grove, an 878-unit building complex on Lake Austin that was resuscitated from stalled construction after BTI Partners bought it from Maesbury Homes in 2013. Prior to the first phase’s completion, it had been named one of the 12 Most Anticipated U.S. Hotel Openings of 2017 by U.S. News & World Report.

Since opening in March 2017, BTI says it has sold 330 units – currently priced between $290,000 and $450,000 – and nearly two-thirds of buyers have been foreign. About a quarter of the buyers are Chinese, while a fifth are citizens of Latin American countries. Brazil is the biggest piece of that category by a mile. ‘Brazil is back,’ indeed.

“This is a unique time for Orlando. The window of opportunity has not closed like I think it has in South Florida for the time being,” said Kevin Mays, director of development at BTI. Mays said part of the company’s marketing strategy was aimed directly at Brazilians.

“We had about six different Brazilian celebrities whisked in and out of here,” he said. “[Ivete] Sangalo and others came in, did their selfie shots, and put them on Instagram. It brought awareness, but I won’t say it brought sales. Brazil still dominates this region from a Latin America standpoint. Colombia is a distant second.”

Part of the sales success is attributable to the masses of tourists brought in by Orlando attractions, specifically Disney due to its recent spree of freshening up its theme parks’ new rides and experiences. That keeps vacation homes filled, making them even more intriguing to foreign buyers.

“South Florida is getting maxed out and Central Florida is benefiting from that,” said One World Properties CEO Peggy Fucci. “The international investor has been the predominant investor in South Florida, and they are now looking at Orlando because the returns are good thanks to tourism.

“It’s an interesting concept for them. Totally different from Miami. They are buying into developments for 400 grand that are run like Disney World resorts or close to it. If you’re a family of five, like me, you need two hotel rooms if you’re vacationing there. Now I can get one of these homes and have all the comfort I need and be near Disney, and I’m getting it for half the price of a hotel in the parks, and much less than a similar property in Miami.”

It’s worked out so far for Brazilian buyer Tosiyuki Nakamura. He paid $330,000 for a unit at The Grove in 2017 and he says it brings him about $2,900 a month in rental income – more than six times the average monthly income in Sao Paulo. Orlando properties have also appreciated by 62 percent over the past five years, which is substantially higher than the nationwide average of 34 percent.