NEW YORK (MainStreet) As unrest continues in their homeland, the remaining wealthy residents of Venezuela have fixed their gaze largely on the Florida real estate market and some in New York.
About 13 people died in violent street rallies, according to Venezuela's Attorney General Luisa Ortega. But opposition groups say the number of dead is higher.
"Venezuelans are transferring full families, so it's not about amenities for them," said Jacky Teplitzky, a real estate broker with Douglas Elliman. "They want to be close to good schools and areas where they can shop for groceries. It's not so much the luxury but about quality of life and community."
A wave of anti-government demonstrations has been sweeping through Venezuela since early February, but Teplitzky said interest in her services by Venezuelans increased by 10% in the last six months. Demonstrators complain about record inflation and shortages of staples.
"This wave of Venezuelans are being forced out because there's no food and because there's long lines to get basic supplies," Teplitzky told MainStreet. "They will buy properties for under a million and they like Florida because the purchase price is lower and yet Miami is still a high end market."
The ones that do invest in real estate in New York are exploring Williamsburg, the Upper East Side and Brooklyn Heights.
"It's not prime Manhattan real estate but you can still find decent returns in these neighborhoods," said Dylan Pichulik, CEO of XL Real Property Management, which manages real estate properties in New York for foreign buyers. "There isn't a ton of foreign investment from Venezuela but they are more into wealth preservation than capital appreciation and seek a safe asset that will preserve their wealth."
But the majority aren't looking for property in New York.
"Some of them still had hopes that the situation was going to improve but now they know it is not," said Teplitzky who is originally from Chile. "Some of that money will go to NYC real estate but most of it will go to Florida real estate. There is a whole area in Doral in Florida now being named Little Venezuela."
Just last week, a police officer and a civilian died in clashes between citizens and the government. With outbursts like this, Venezuelans are expected to flock to Miami and park their money in pricey Miami Beach mansions, according to Teplitzky, where it is more secure.
"The rich already left during the time that Chávez was in charge and established a second residence in Florida," said Teplitzky. "The few Venezuelans that haven't bought yet specifically in Florida will definitely buy now."
With Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro calling protestors fascists and the government accusing the opposition of attempting a coup with the help of the U.S., it's no wonder the wealthy want to jump ship.
"It's not easy for them to hop on a plane and come to America," Pichulik told MainStreet. "They have to go through getting a visa, which can be a long and difficult process in Venezuela."
Meanwhile, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced a resolution of targeted sanctions against the country's leaders.
"We don't have a good diplomatic relationship with Venezuela," said Pichulik.
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet