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Guest Column | Transatlantic trends: overseas home buyers continue to eye Southwest Florida

By APRILE OSBORNE - all It Closed International Realty co-founder | May 16, 2024

Aprile Osborne

It’s hard to believe, but the rising temperatures and even sunnier Southwest Florida skies are key indicators that summer is right around the corner.

With more free time for beach strolls and boating excursions comes an influx of global travelers looking to get their fix of paradise. While everyone loves Florida, the summer months are particularly popular for extended stays among Europeans on “holiday.” Their arrival not only broadens the cultural landscape, but it also significantly boosts our local economy.

In Collier County, tourism officials counted 123,000 visits by Europeans in 2023. That’s close to a 33% increase from the previous year, which indicates a strong bounce back from several years of decline after COVID-19.

I recently returned from a trip to London, where Call It Closed International Realty has expanded its services after several years of interest from European buyers. During my stay, I had a chance to observe some of the differences between our sides of the world.

In London, locals told me that they tend to only see the sun three to four months out of the year, a striking contrast from the reality of a Southwest Floridian, which sees the sun year-round, give or take a few rainy days. It explains the desire and love for Florida; when Europeans are here, they want to soak up the sun on the beach, on the water or by the pool.

This raises an important question: are overseas visitors looking to plant roots interested in living here full-time, or are they just looking for their next vacation home?

Take initiative, sellers

Many Europeans don’t just come to America to visit, but in search of a future home. Their house hunting journeys can also differ from our domestic buyers – so prospective sellers, take note.

Contrary to many Americans who may desire a “fixer-upper,” or a house that can be customized to fit their taste and unique ideas, European buyers generally desire a clean home.

That doesn’t just mean a house that’s been mopped and dusted – rather, it means that these buyers want a home that’s 100% move-in ready. This is important to our friends across the pond, whose cell-phone contacts don’t include the numbers of painters, electricians, repair crews and other skilled trade workers in Southwest Florida.

When it comes to appealing to buyers from overseas, here’s what I tell clients looking to sell: take the initiative and pay for a pre-inspection of the home before putting it on the market, so that we can show prospective purchasers that we have a clean inspection report and that the home has no issues.

The last thing a buyer wants is to move across the Atlantic to their new home, only to find an array of issues that they now need to figure out how to handle in a new country. During a pre-inspection, your home will be assessed to make sure there are no signs of deterioration and that critical aspects of the home are secure and functional, including the exterior and structure of the home, plumbing, electrical systems, HVAC systems, insulation and attic.

After the inspection, the seller will receive a report with notes from the inspector. From there, the seller can opt to repair any issues in the home before putting it on the market.

Forever home, or a temporary one?

While many Europeans want to live full-time in Southwest Florida, there are others who would rather enjoy their slice of paradise strictly on a summer getaway. In Collier County alone, more than 20,000 Europeans visited each month last summer.

For overseas visitors who aren’t quite at the stage of making America their forever home, they may opt to lease out their vacation home in Florida as a long- or short-term rental during the months they remain overseas.

Even with extended summer breaks lasting several months, that still leaves nine or 10 months to rent their home when it would otherwise be vacant, including during the most-desirable winter months. This is also a great strategy to help the asset’s value to appreciate, which can be beneficial when it comes time to sell.

One note: make sure that your neighborhood or homeowners association is renter friendly. In many HOAs, converting your place into an Airbnb – or even opting for long-term rentals – is not allowed, so check with your real estate agent on locations and their rules.

If you’re looking to sell, get with a good real estate agent who knows the ins and outs of the areas where you are interested in buying or selling; they can make all the difference in your house hunting – or selling – journey.

Aprile Osborne, Call It Closed International Realty co-founder, has been a licensed agent in Southwest Florida for almost 20 years. Naples-based Call It Closed International Realty currently operates in 18 states and overseas. Visit aprileosborne.callitclosed.com.