• Brazilian investors fueling housing boom


    CENTRAL FLORIDA - New numbers show the housing market is rebounding, and home sales were up 20 percent last month compared to a year ago.

    WFTV reporter Racquel Asa found out Brazilian investors may be the driving force behind it, and they're paying cash.

    Rodrigo Mauro's trip from Brazil wasn't just for vacation. He's looking for his next investment.

    Six months ago, he bought a house for $450,000 in Kissimmee.

    "The taxes are lower, and it's much more easier and much more cheaper," said Mauro.

    Rodrigo's realtor, Saint Clair Fernandez, said 75 percent of his business comes from Brazilians, and the properties they're buying are high-end.

    "Sales, they go from $400,000 to $2 million to $4 million, and most of the time, they pay in cash," said Fernandez.

    Brazilian currency is strong against the U.S. dollar, with almost five times more buying power.

    A house that sells for $220,000 in the U.S. would cost more than $1 million in Brazil.

    Brazilian investors are buying more than houses. They bought a 650-room former hotel on International Drive that is under renovation.

    "Certainly for the next four to seven years is when we can look at this as being a big part of our real estate and business industry," said Justine Assal of Floirda Link.

    Realtors said Florida's climate, house prices and theme parks are the three main reasons behind the housing boom.

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