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Untitled Document

The State of Florida, producing 5.3% of the GDP of the United States, is the fourth of 50 states in economic size behind California at 13.2%, Texas at 8.3% and New York at 8.0%.

If Florida is amongst the highest ranking states in GDP, brilliantly shining in the lower ranks, it comes in at 42 to 50 states for the amount of state taxes charged. If federal taxes are included, Florida ranks in at 36 amongst all the states of Union, confirming a fiscal backdrop that favors businesses and investments. Tax-wise, with respects to most other U.S. states and European nations, Florida reveals itself as highly favorable.

Geographically positioned favorably, 40% of all U.S. exports pass through Florida on their way to Latin America. Beyond that, with over 70 million tourists annually, Florida is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. With this in mind, it's note-worthy that overall, Miami's two international airports, MIA and Ft. Lauderdale International Airport have a traffic that is grater than that of Rome Fiumicino Airport, one of the most desired tourist destination in the world.

Florida's population, at 18,680,000 inhabitants in April 2007, represents 8% of the population of all the U.S.A. It's growth rate is high, from 15,982,000 inhabitants in 2000 to 18,089,000 in 2006, 13.2 in just six years. The population is predicted to exceed 19 million by 2010, 20 million by 2012, and 25 million by 2030. These figures are supported by both: a growing birth rate, as well as an internal immigration flux and one from abroad, especially from Latin American countries. Besides the elevated number of births, young people under the age of 18 make up 22% of Florida's population while senior citizens over the age of 65 represents only 16.8% of the total. This trend should sustain a continued request for housing in the next decades.

The local authorities are well-aware that the quality of life, the climate and the security (guaranteed by a police force that is very attentive to the area, problem areas exist but they are well-defined and away from tourist and residential areas) can make Florida a magnet capable of attracting, not only fluxes of tourists and retirees from the Northern United States, but also businesses and new residents from all over the world, in the prime of their lives. In the downtown area in particular -the new financial center of Miami- numerous office buildings are under construction, transforming the area into a very new and very modern little Manhattan.

For decades, Florida's economy has benefited from South and Central America investments capital flight coming from investors in situation of decline (for reasons of corruption and criminality) with political and economic instability. In recent years, the hosing sector's capacity to attract, as a result of the devaluation of the dollar which has reduced prices square meter for square meter, has made Florida a very competitive real estate market with respect to the prices per square meter of properties in Italian and European destinations. This has further increased Florida's attractiveness to investors from the old world.

Initially, investors came from Spain and England, countries that have greater linguistic affinities to the residents of this area. In recent years though, investors have emerged from France, Germany in addition to Italy, in particular in the Miami housing markets.

For all of 2007 and the beginning of 2008, a sudden reduction in real estate sales was registered. Prices in the most coveted areas, especially those on the ocean or on South Beach, remained the same. Other areas, like the new areas in expansion in Downtown and Brickell Avenue, were the sites of many foreclosures. These foreclosures represent a good opportunity for more speculative investors. Italian and European investors that acquired properties within the last year are already benefitting from the recovery of the U.S. dollar. European investors that buy real estate in these advantageous months can benefit, with a solid legal support and a good broker, from the numerous opportunities that judicial auctions and foreclosures offer those with liquidity.

It's also worth noting that in order to stimulate the market and contrast the threat of another economic recession in Florida, a referendum proposing a reduction of property taxes, the main tax on real estate, will be voted on this next presidential election.

The increased property tax reduction would be for residents while for non-residents the reduction would consist in taxation at the 2005 rate, and the beginning of a series of regulation that will probably include raising taxes in the following years. Frankly, everyone was hoping for a better situation but these new regulations are a good sign that the reduction of taxes will go hand in hand with reduced bureaucratic red tape. It is difficult to find a parallel in Europe and especially in Italy to the rapid implementation of these reductions on the part of Miami politicians, working on behalf of citizens and investors.

The hope is that this reduction can further sustain the market and the value of real estate properties, this obviously to the benefit of homeowners both residents and non-residents.

Its geography, history and dimensions make Miami the natural capital of the South Eastern United States, in particular the area called the Gold Coast which runs from North of West Palm Beach down to South Miami.

All of the South Florida Metropolitan Area contains more than 5 million residents, concentrated along the coast. That area, the "Greater Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach" metropolitan area makes up the 6th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and the 45th in the world. It's also the only metropolitan area of the U.S. in which less than 500,000 inhabitants (380,000) remain in the city, Miami, while the rest of the population is dispersed along the coast. This speaks to the incredible livability of this multi-faceted growing urban area.

The Golden Coast of Florida includes seven airports: Miami International Ariport (Miami-Dade), Opa-Locka Airport (Miami-Dade), Homestead General Aviation Airport (Miami-Dade), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport (Broward), Palm Beach International Airport (Palm Beach), and Boca Raton Airport (Palm Beach). Some specialize in executive flights, others in domestic U.S. flights and others in International ones (see airports). In the next months, thanks to the "Free Sky" agreement that is becoming operative between U.S. and the E.U., numerous direct flights will be inaugurated that will involve various regional Italian airports connecting Italy and Europe with the main airports in the United States. A doubling of air traffic across the Atlantic Ocean is predicted as a result of this agreement.

Of Miami residents, 55% are of Hispanic origin, with a strong presence of Cuban exiles. The Caribbean Ocean influences the weather in Miami, differentiating this region from the North of Florida. Miami is more temperate in the winter and more subject to tropical storms and hurricanes in the summer, especially during winter months, and a point of departure and passage for cruises in the Caribbean. From a tourism point of view, the area has a high season for 8 months of the year, from November through June. In summer months, though increasingly subject to hurricanes, this area has in recent years counted on a number of European travellers nonetheless. During the summer of 2006, in which no hurricane was recorded near Miami, the tourist season stretched out through the year.

What will be the future of urban development in Miami?

In Downtown, in the area between Brickell Avenue, bordered by Edgewater, between the Miami River and the historic Coral Way, a huge part of Old Miami is quickly disappearing in a cloud of dust.

In its place, a new Miami is emerging. A plush forest of steel and glass towers is going up amidst the debris. Along Biscayne Bay, 114 new projects have been approved or are under construction already, many of which rise above 40 floors. Real estate contractors are about to put forward the construction of more than 61,000 apartments, that's more apartments that have been built in Miami in over the last 10 years. Amongst the projects are: a 74 floor building that will be the tallest residential building in the United States south of Manhattan, more than 4 million square feet of new commercial space (more or less twice the size of Aventura Mall) and parking for over 100,000 vehicles. This construction boon has no precedent in the history of the world.

Miami has already gone through another similar growth spurt experience in the past. Immediately after WWII, a construction boom in Miami accompanied an immigration boom that increased inhabitants in the area five fold, bringing the population of Miami to over a million. This time, the boom will span over 20 years.

"We are creating an Istant City, what usually takes 15 years to build, we are doing in 3 years" declared Michael Cannon, a real estate analyst from Miami for the Miami Herald on February 2, 2007. This enthusiasm has waned some as it has coincided with a general weakening of all U.S. real estate in the last 2 years, a crisis which is turning into an opportunity, as stated previously, for those able to purchase properties, many at prices below building costs and others undergoing foreclosure.

Obviously, the condo-conversion projects transforming the face of Miami Beach can't be left out. Capital initially arrived from South America and New York but now is increasingly coming from Europe. This is due in part to the deterioration of the U.S. dollar but also as a result of the number of properties undergoing foreclosure that make possible for purchase very new large buildings at prices below the cost of their construction.

Overall interest in the wealthy and glamorous Miami grows, especially in moment of crisis, as a result of its silent hard-working people steadily doing their jobs in a country with unparalleled economic flexibility that is capable of getting back on its feet faster than any other country in times of need.




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