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BMO’s Jack Ablin says Canadians love Florida’s real estate market

By Dian Vujovich

Funny thing about the real estate market in Palm Beach—it doesn’t follow the norm. In addition to pricey sales happening while the rest of the US real estate world was/is in a funk, it’s tough to get in touch with a broker.  I called three real estate brokers last week to get a comment about sales and not a one of them answered the call. Guess they were all out selling property to Canadians.


When Jack Ablin, chief investment officer with BMO Private Bank, was in town last month he spoke to an invited audience at the Norton Museum of Art about everything from his financial outlook to successful investing and real estate.


Ablin’s a bright and interesting speaker who can both keep a crowd awake and get you to thinking. Not everyone can do that.


According to him, our markets have been  behaving “at the pleasure of the Fed.” And as long as interest rates remain low, he thinks that  trend is  likely to continue.


Additionally, Ablin said that our debt to GDP is going to continue to grow because of our changing demographics, and,  that commodities are “dead for a while.” He also pointed out that the U.S. dollar is cheap which makes manufacturing here a plus. An example  he sited was a plastics company in South Carolina that manufactures chopsticks for the Chinese.


And then there is real estate.


Anyone who reads The Shiny Sheet has seen  how week-after-week Palm Beach homes are selling and selling at hefty prices. What they might not know is that 13 percent of real estate sales in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach have been to Canadians, according to the National Association of Realtors.


As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I tried contacting a few local real estate brokers to get a sense of whether or not they’d seen that Northern Neighbor buying  trend. With no luck on that score, I’ll stick with the stats Ablin shared. Namely: Canadians are the number one foreign buyer of Florida real estate; they consider prices in our state’s real estate market cheap; and, hopped on a band wagon purchasing homes long before, and in greater quantity, than other foreign investors.


“Currently, 500,000 Canadian households own property in Florida, ” said Ablin.” And they are owners. Not investors.”


Two reasons for  ownership  are because home prices in Canada are far more expensive than they  are here. And, says Ablin, “The Canadian dollar is trading nearly 10 per cent above ‘fair’ value versus the U.S. dollar, arming Snowbird shoppers with extra buying power.”


Sounds  like a win-win for everyone, eh.

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