9th March 2010

A new dawn for America's Sunshine State?
By Zoe Dare Hall

Florida's decline during the global recession has been dramatic and well documented, with 50 per cent price falls on average across the Sunshine State and half of the properties currently on the market distressed sales by owners who can't keep up mortgage payments.

It is still nearly impossible for buyers to get finance in Florida for condos, considered high risk by banks as they are more likely to be owned by investors. But the market for detached houses is recovering first because finance is now available for overseas buyers in Florida, 16 per cent of whom are British.

Most head straight to Orlando, the state's entertainment and conference mecca soon to see another huge boost when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new Universal Studios attraction, opens this spring.

The closer to Disney, the better the rental potential and the more expensive the property,' comments David Smith from Orlando Property UK. 'But don't expect to make a large annual net income from renting out the holiday home. Your return on investment will mainly come from an increase in the property's value.'

The bargains are attracting a new surge of British buyers, such as Adriana Bothwell, 37, and husband Peter, 41, who run a metalwork company and live in Theydon Bois, Essex.

They have just bought a six-bedroom, fully-furnished show house at Windsor Hills, a gated community two miles from Disney World, through Orlando Property UK and paid £253,000 - £130,000 less than similar houses on the development cost in 2006.

'As it was the show home, they threw in the £38,000 furniture package for nothing,' says Adriana, who will spend family holidays in their new home, with children Natasha, nine, and Joseph, seven, and rent it out for up to £1,000 a week.

We wanted an investment property that we could also use. Europe didn't appeal because of the high euro, but with Florida's prices so low it seemed ideal.'