Demand for vacation homes has skyrocketed in the US during the covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). According to the report, domestic and foreign buyers flooded the market in the second half of 2020 through April 2021, causing vacation home sales to increase by 16.4%, outpacing the country’s overall existing property sales growth of 5.6%.
Known as the “vacation capital of the world,” Orlando, Florida, appears at the top of the ranking as the best place to buy vacation homes in the USA, according to the specialized website Roofstock. The reason is the never-ending flux of tourists going to Disney and Universal theme parks every year. In 2019, around 75 million people visited the city, 85% of domestic tourists. In 2020, when the country’s borders were closed to international tourism, 35 million people visited the city. Therefore, it shows that even with the restrictions of the pandemic, vacation homeowners managed to make money from local visitors.
With an eye on this market, Brazilians are investing in purchasing vacation homes in the area, as the fifth foreign group that most acquires real estate in Florida and in ventures aimed at serving the vacation home sector.
Alexandre Fraga, CEO of Fraga Company, identified this opportunity well before the pandemic in 2014. “What was seen as a good deal in the past, today is considered one of the most profitable and safe investments in the global market”, says Fraga, who leads a hub that comprises real estate, interior design, and property management serving vacation homes in Orlando. “Not only Brazilians, but Latin Americans in general, are transferring part of their assets to dollars, a currency stronger than the ones in their countries of origin,” says Fraga, who manages around 50 million dollars a year in vacation rentals.
Since 2015 in Orlando, Bartolomeu Lins has been known in the area for his ventures in the restaurant sector. However, in 2020, observing the growth of vacation homes, Bartolomeu decided to diversify and open QS2 Solution, an industrial laundry exclusively for vacation homes. “These properties have high occupancy and, to compete with hotels, they need to present professional cleaning standards”, says the owner of the laundry, which serves almost 300 homes around the theme parks, delivering about 4 thousand tons of clean material per day. “There are many entrepreneurial opportunities across the entire supply chain in the Orlando vacation home sector,” says Bartolomeu.
Following the reopening of borders in November last year, experts estimate more business coming from Brazil. “The success of Brazilian entrepreneurs in Florida is because both Brazilian investors and tourists prefer to do business with those who speak Portuguese and understand its culture,” comments Fraga.
More than 1 million Brazilians travel to Florida every year, 830 thousands of which go to Orlando, the third foreign group that most visits the parks in the region. In terms of investments, Brazilians are among the five nationalities that most purchase vacation homes in Florida, along with Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela.
*This article was originally published in Portuguese by Metropoles.