Every time the Argentine orBrazilian economytakes a plunge, Miami real estate agents see a wave of people flying north looking for a safer place to invest their money. Whenever global oil prices fall, Russians and Venezuelans start showing up. Vacationers from Europe buy properties to serve as winter retreats.
"And there's now for the first time quite a lot of activity coming from Asian buyers, especially Chinese," Foley said.
One clear indication of foreign purchases is the number of Miami homes being bought with cash. As much as 70% of total home purchases in the Miami area were cash sales in March 2012, according to real estate research firmCoreLogic. That was down to 58% in December, but still well above the national average of 35.5%.