Firm Attracts International Buyers For Local Properties

December 16, 2008

(STUART, FL) Laurie Andrews is changing the way she does business.

As the chief operating officer at Stuart-based Cotton & Co., she is trying to drum up business from the other side of the pond.

Cotton & Co. is an advertising, marketing, public relations and Internet services firm for luxury developments on the Treasure Coast, nationwide and the Caribbean.

“We’ve started to participate in trade shows in Madrid … we’re looking at a schedule of shows to appeal to markets in London, the Netherlands and Russia,” said Andrews. “To reach out to those international markets, we’re creating Web pages in their languages to get on to their search engines, which are very different from Google and Yahoo.”

As the housing market continues to decline, businesses marketing high-end real estate on the Treasure Coast and South Florida are tapping into markets that had little interest in the area during the peak of the residential boom. While some industry professionals worried the declining value of the dollar could further weaken sales on the Treasure Coast and Florida, others saw an opportunity to attract international buyers who might consider local prices a bargain.

“We have leads from 35 different countries,” Andrews said. “There are two types of approaches now, investment buyers from outside the country who recognize that market conditions have changed, so they’re trying to get in at the right time and place. Then there’s the lifestyle buyer who is looking to make a lifestyle change from the one of the northern states.”

Andrews said potential buyers from as far as Thailand, Poland and Iran have expressed interest in Treasure Coast properties.

William Yahn, Florida regional manager for The Corcoran Group Inc., said his firm has made a concerted effort to attract buyers from Russia.

“These new markets view the Americas as a safe haven to diversity, their portfolios,” Yahn said. “They still perceive real estate here as a pretty decent investment.”

Yahn said buyers from Russia are especially interested in properties in West Palm Beach and Vero Beach. He said that awareness stems from the sale of Donald Trump’s mansion to a Russian billionaire. “Even the lesser known European countries, like Austria and Spain, are looking at real estate here,” Yahn said.

According to several media outlets, Dmitry Rybolovlev bought Trump’s waterfront Palm Beach mansion for close to $100 million in June. Rybolovlev ranks 59 on Forbes “The World’s Billionaires” 2008 list. “Everyone is trying to be creative,” Yalin said. “Looking outside to international foreign markets is definitely worth doing.”

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