This article first appeared in EFE on February 4, 2022.
Figures from the Florida Association of Realtors show that Chileans are gaining weight among foreigners buying property in this state, a trend that industry sources believe will last and that they link to political and economic changes in the southern country.
A wave of entrepreneurs, companies, and investors from Chile are arriving in cities such as Miami and Orlando to diversify and expand their wealth as never before, according to testimonies gathered by the Top of Mind communication agency.
In the list of foreign buyers of real estate in 2021 in the South Florida area, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach, which is headed by Colombians and Canadians, Chileans rank eighth, with 4% of the total number of transactions.
They are also eighth on the list for the Central Florida area, which includes Orlando, Kissimmee, and Sandford, with 3% of the total.
“Based on my conversations with my Chilean clients, most of them show concern about the country’s political and economic trajectory,” said corporate attorney Julian Montero of Miami law firm Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr.
WATCHWORD: DIVERSIFY WEALTH
“That seems to be the main reason for wanting to diversify their wealth in the U.S.,” he adds in remarks to Top of Mind.
After the popular protests of 2019 and the constituent process, Chileans elected Gabriel Boric as president in 2021, who ran at the head of a leftist coalition and from March 11 will lead a “change” in the country considered the most politically and economically stable in Latin America.
One of Boric’s electoral promises is to raise taxes to finance social reforms.
Montero, of Chilean origin, helps clients from Chile establish corporations in Florida to invest in commercial or residential real estate, create subsidiaries of companies or facilitate visas such as the E-2 or EB-5 to reside in the US.
“This group (Chileans) are primarily looking to diversify their portfolios into assets that can provide a flow of capital and the possibility of increasing in value,” commented Montero.
“In general, most of my clients are not yet leaving their main activity in Chile, which at the moment is different from the trend of investors in other Latin American countries,” he stressed.
According to a report by the National Association of Realtors, in 2021 the Latin American countries whose citizens bought the most properties in the U.S. were Mexico, Argentina and Colombia.
Alan Medellin, director of Latin American sales for The Terraces at The Grove Resort & Water Park in Orlando, says that in the specific case of that real estate development, Chileans are outpacing buyers from Colombia, Peru and other countries that until last year were dominant.
“I have no doubt that Chile is going to be the number one country my buyers are going to come from this year,” said Medellin, who sells units in furnished luxury aparthotels just minutes from World Disney World in Orlando.
“The dollar has gone up a lot in Chile and that’s creating concern. My clients want to invest in The Grove because U.S. real estate gives them security and they are looking to generate returns in dollars,” he tells Top of Mind.
Medellín points out that 80% of his Chilean clients finance the purchase by putting 35 to 40% down at an interest rate of around 4.2%.
Prices for the aparthotels are above $200,000 and, since last year, he has already sold about 30 units to Chileans, he says.
SOMETHING TO STAY
According to attorney Montero, his experience tells him that this is the beginning of something that will continue.
“I say this because I have seen it in the last 25 years that I have been in Miami representing investors and entrepreneurs from different Latin American countries. When you open up interest in investing outside of one’s country, this trend only increases.”
“The same has happened with investors from Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and now it is clear to me that the same will happen with Chilean investors and businessmen,” he added.
Chilean companies are also opening branches in Florida in order to grow and diversify their client portfolio in the U.S., as is the case of BH Compliance, a company that helps multinationals with operations in Latin America to monitor their corporate transparency programs and be in line with anti-corruption laws in the region and in this country.
BH Compliance opened a Miami office this January and its executive director, Susana Sierra, moved here to lead the company’s U.S. expansion.