Foreign Investors Buy Florida Homes Sight Unseen

You'd never dream of buying a home without seeing it (in person) first, right? Well, there are other buyers who move much more quickly -- so fast, in fact, that they sign on the dotted line before they've even toured the house.

Foreign investors are so anxious to snag real estate deals in the U.S. -- before the housing recovery pushes home prices too far up -- that they're buying homes over the Internet before they've even looked at them in person, The Toronto Star reported. The Florida market is where they're turning their focus. And Canadians looking to score Florida homes are facing stiff competition from Asian investors who are swooping in and snapping up homes, sight unseen, according to the Star.

"Some Chinese investors bought up 35 [townhouse-condo] units without even flying in first," Wayne Levy of Toronto-based Florida Home Finders told the newspaper. "They looked at a picture. They wrote checks. That's what's happening now."

The urgency comes because foreigners, particularly Asians, are "seeing the U.S. as a safe haven to put their money," said Realtor Shant Epremian of Boca Raton-based Pink Palm Properties.

We've heard this before. We were speaking with Albert Hakim, a Detroit-based RE/MAX agent who specializes in bank-owned properties, about homes selling for $1 in the area. He told us that he has seen foreign buyers get so excited over the minuscule price tag that they call him up and make the $1 transaction over the phone or on the Internet.

But here's what they don't understand: A home that's selling for $1 is generally going to be pretty dilapidated and in need of major rehabilitation. The banks just want them off their books, which is why they're selling these homes at such a cheap price. Hakim told AOL Real Estate that once the foreign buyers actually tour the properties they've bought for a song, they're disappointed.

It just goes to show: Always check out a real estate investment yourself -- and get the home thoroughly inspected -- before you buy.

Foreign Buyers Binge on U.S. Homes

See also:
Hey, Foreign Investors: Buy a House, Get a Visa!
When It Comes to Square Footage, the U.S. Is Cheap

Key to the Housing Recovery? It's Still Investors

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