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real estate

Real estate and houses in Florida, USA.

Canada's snowbirds can take some credit for helping in the recovery of Florida's once dismal real estate sector.

A new Bank of Montreal report indicates that growing demand from foreign buyers – notably Canadians – is helping boost property prices in the Sunshine State.

Citing the most recent S&P Case-Shiller data, the report says the price of a single family home in South Florida surged 12 per cent from its low point in April 2011.

Canada is the state's top source of foreign tourist business and Canadians are its number one foreign buyer, according to the study.

In 2010, transactions involving Canadian buyers accounted for 36 per cent of all real estate purchases by foreigners, it says.

More than 500,000 Canadians now own Florida property, according to the report.

"Florida properties are a bargain compared to real estate in Canada. The median priced home in Florida is nearly half than that in Canada," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.

"At the same time, the Canadian dollar is trading nearly 10 per cent above 'fair' value versus the U.S. dollar, arming Snowbird shoppers with extra buying power."

Among the most desirable locations for Canadians are Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Orlando-Kissimmee and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Palm Beach.

In Orlando, real estate prices plunged to an average of $113,400 (U.S.) in 2011 from a peak of $258,000.