BY CHRONICLE STAFF
Go to Punta del Este these days and there's a good chance Portuguese is the language you'll be hearing most at restaurants and stores. "I've never seen anything like it," says Juan Carlos Sorhobigarat, managing director of Terramar Servicios Inmobiliarios, a Punta del Este real estate firm that represents Christie's Great Estates in Uruguay. "The city is full of Brazilians."
Punta del Este, an upscale resort city located in southern Uruguay, has historically drawn tourists from Brazil and Argentina, but thanks to the growing economic boom in Brazil, the city is seeing a growing number of tourists and real estate buyers from its northern neighbor. The city is only a two-hour flight away from Sao Paulo and 45 minutes from Buenos Aires, Sorhobigarat points out.
Along with demand from Argentines and other groups, the Brazilians have helped drive up prices for many residential properties by 15 to 20 percent annually in recent years, he says. "We have now reached record prices not seen since 1998," Sorhobigarat says.
Pablo Manes, corporate business manager for U.S.-based real estate broker Colliers International in Buenos Aires, agrees. "The past year the average price per square meter has increased 16 percent...
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