Immigration reform may help Florida real estate sales

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Immigration reform may help Florida real estate sales

Monday, May 13, 2013

Two relatively little-known provisions of the “Jobs Originating through Launching Travel Act” – the federal bill still in its early stages – could further stimulate a growing housing recovery in Southwest Florida.  Many people have heard of the enforcement provisions, but these two key points could create a direct economic benefit for parts of the U.S., including Southwest Florida.

Under the proposed federal reform, the stays in the U.S. of Canadian visitors and real estate buyers could be extended.  It also would grant temporary visas to foreigners from any country who pay cash for luxury real estate in the U.S.

Canadian buyers, in particular, have been among the biggest purchasers of Southwest Florida, and cash transactions now account for two-thirds of all deals regionally.

Foreigners could apply for a temporary visa for year-round residency if they:

  • purchase $500,000 or more worth of property,
  • maintain ownership,
  • reside in the U.S. for more than six months a year,
  • are at least 55 years old,
  • hold full health insurance coverage, and
  • pass mandatory criminal background screening

Currently, foreign home buyers who have not obtained U.S. citizenship can only stay here for six months in any given calendar year. Under the new proposal, foreign real estate buyers could apply to renew their temporary visa every three years.

Under the bill, Canadian retirees could visit the U.S. for up to 240 days at a time if they:

  • maintain a residence in Canada,
  • be at least 55 years old,
  • have purchased or signed a rental agreement for a property in the U.S. worth $250,000 or more,
  • hold full health insurance coverage, and
  • pass mandatory criminal background screening

Most Canadians, however, would risk losing their centralized health care back home if they leave their country for more than six months.

Area Realtors hope relaxed immigration rules could further lift sales to a segment of buyers that already is energizing the housing market.  Realtors say Canadians flock to Southwest Florida because they see value here. “I go up to Canada every year, show them pictures of palm trees and beaches, and they come on down,” Bill Weed, a Realtor with brokerage firm Michael Saunders & Co. in Lakewood Ranch, told the Herald Tribune. “It feels like that feeding frenzy again.”

 

Source: Josh Salman, Herald Tribune, Sarasota, Florida

This article was written by Staff

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