My Hürriyet colleague Jale Özgentürk recently attended the Seatrade Fair in Miami, after which she wrote that Turks’ interest in this Florida city was rising.
After reading this, I called U.S.-based real estate agent Nerime Demren, who I had previously interviewed two years ago, to ask what has been happening.
Demren migrated to the U.S. some 35 years ago and has been a real estate agent in Miami for 20 years. She has been the Turkey representative of the National Association of Realtor (REALTOR) for many years. The association has more than one million members and is represented in 60 different countries.
Demren is effectively the first address for Turks who want to buy property or land in Miami. She told me that things had developed very rapidly for Turks over the course of two years. The opening of a Turkish consulate in the city and the start of direct flights by Turkish Airlines (THY) of course have helped stir this interest.
However, the tense atmosphere in Turkey and people’s concerns for the future have caused many Turks - from rich businessmen to doctors and pilots, rich and middle class alike - to knock on Demren’s door.
“Even if they only have a very small amount of savings, they come to Miami. I guess that in the past two years the number of people buying homes here, and the number of Turkish realtors, have doubled,” said Demren.
She added that Miami attracts Turks for its climate, lifestyle, low cost of living, and street parties. Two years ago, she told me that around 10,000 Turks live in Miami.
The biggest reason for the interest of Turks in Miami is no doubt that house prices in the city are very reasonable compared to Istanbul. It is possible to find a home starting from $200,000 here.
Unlike Istanbul, real estate in Miami have not seen a huge change over the past two years. Demren says there are two reasons for this. “The dollar is very strong now. Therefore, South Americans, Russians, Canadians who have bought houses in Miami, because their money has devaluated against the dollar, are now waiting. The second reason is that there are quite a few construction projects, thus new offers,” she said.
There are many developers in Turkey who are interested in Miami, such as the Koç Group and the Süzer Group, both of which have investments there.
The expanded Panama Canal is the biggest factor for Miami’s development in recent years. That expansion allows big ships to pass and these giant vessels have their first stop in Miami when they continue to Asia, Europe
and North America.
“Despite so many construction projects, the city has balanced growth. In our neighborhood alone, there are 12 parks,” she added.
When she said this, I thought about the “wild growth” of Istanbul and the ongoing resistance of local residents against the destruction of the Validebağ Grove on the Anatolian side of the city.