Chavez’s death could hit Florida real estate

by Jose Pagliery, CNN Money  |  published on March 8, 2013

For years, rich Venezuelans have fled to Florida to escape Chavez’s socialist economic policies.

When Florida housing tanked six years ago, Venezuelans became the top foreign buyers of empty condos.

Now brokers think Venezuelans will wait and see if a new round of elections will yield a business-friendly president.

“I think most Venezuelans will sit idle for at least six months,” said Peter Zalewski, owner of the broker firm Condo Vultures. “That’s bad for us, because that means they won’t be parking their cash in South Florida with the same vigor.”

Venezuelans came in waves after Chavez was elected in 1998. Their U.S. population more than doubled to over 200,000 and much of that growth was concentrated near Miami.

The exodus was mostly led by entrepreneurs who cited deteriorating business conditions under Chavez’s watch. Back home, the homicide rate nearly tripled, taxes skyrocketed and the government laid claim to land and companies in every sector.

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