South Florida’s luxury home market is inundated with international buyers, but there’s one group of foreign buyers whose activity in the market is drawing scrutiny.
At least 63 Russian nationals have bought $98.4 million worth of property in seven of President Donald Trump’s branded buildings in the Greater Miami area, according to a Reuters investigation. Some of the Russian buyers are businessmen and executives in state-owned businesses, though none are believed to be from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, the news agency reports.
The disclosure of Russian spending on Trump-branded towers comes amid an FBI inquiry into the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the president in regards to the real estate dealings, according to the report, and all of the purchases mentioned were completed well before Trump became president. Though Trump has properties all over the world, Reuters said it focused its investigation on his Florida properties because of the number of Trump-branded buildings there and the relative ease of accessing ownership information in the state.
Trump’s Florida empire
Trump’s business empire includes seven properties in Florida, though his involvement in many is limited to licensing agreements to use the Trump brand, according to Reuters. The president entered into a licensing agreement with developer Gil Dezer, who told Reuters that his six Trump-branded towers netted $2 billion in initial sales. (Trump’s seventh Florida property is the Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, a frequent weekend getaway of the Commander-In-Chief.)
Many of the units bought by Russians were in Sunny Isles Beach. One tower, the Trump Hollywood, just north of Sunny Isles Beach, has had at least five Russian buyers spending $14.4 million for units in the building, Reuters reports.
Sales of Trump-branded units to Russian nationals detailed in the Reuters report include:
- $1.3 million for unit 3901 in Trump Palace (closed in 2010)
- $1.4 million for an undisclosed unit in Trump Hollywood (2011)
- $1.2 million for unit 5006 in Trump Palace (2009)
- $5.2 million for the penthouse in Trump Royale (2011)
- $6.8 million for the penthouse in Trump Hollywood (2010)
- $3.5 million for an undisclosed unit in Trump Hollywood (year not reported)
- $920,000 for unit 2701 in Trump Hollywood (2012)
- $1.8 million for unit 3704 in Trump Hollywood (2012)
Russians just a fraction of Miami luxury home spending
Many of the Russian-bought units were purchased after the housing market crash. In 2008, buyers defaulted on 900 Trump-branded apartments, Reuters said. Foreign investors began snatching up cheaper units after the market crash.
Russian involvement in Miami-area luxury real estate is only a fraction of the area’s international investment. Foreign buyers spent $6.2 billion on South Florida real estate in 2015, and Russia didn’t crack the top-10 in units purchased or money spent. The market is still dominated by South American buyers, with Venezuelans and Brazilians accounting for more in total sales volume in 2016 than all other international buyers combined.