Foreign Investors List D.C., Atlanta First for Real Estate
Reath, Viki, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Washington and Atlanta share top billing as the most popular U.S. locations for foreign real estate investors, according to a new survey.
Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago follow in popularity, according to the survey by the Association of Foreign Investors in U.S. Real Estate.
The survey mollified members of the Washington real estate industry recovering from a recent Equitable Real Estate survey that ranked Washington last among the top 10 U.S. markets.
"This survey is far more accurate," said Fern Barrueta, vice chairman of Carey Winston/Barrueta, which recently merged with an Italian company. "The number of organizations and institutions that are throwing money at Washington real estate is amazing. They're buying office buildings right and left at prices that are higher than would appear warranted by the actual rentals."
The European concept that capital cities are economic as well as political centers has contributed to Washington's rebirth as a real estate investment market after the recession of the early 1990s, Mr. Barrueta said.
"Foreigners see Washington as having the best future prospects of any city in the country," he said.
Jeffrey Zell, the president of Zell Partners, which advises clients on real estate investments, chuckles over the popularity of Atlanta.
"It's amazing what Ted Turner and the Atlanta Braves will do for Atlanta," Mr. Zell said. "Where else can you watch Jane Fonda and Ted Turner kiss when one of the Braves hits a home run?"
Mr. Turner, whose many cable TV networks are based in Atlanta, owns the Braves and is married to Miss Fonda.
Washington's monuments seem to have the same effect.
"People like to invest in something they can identify with," Mr. Zell said. "A lot of foreign investors visit Washington."
Atlanta's and Washington's hot technology markets add to their popularity with foreign investors, Mr. Zell said.
The survey also found that 83 percent of foreign investors will maintain or increase their U.S. real estate holdings next year, with 81 percent preferring U.S. to European investments and 77 percent preferring U.S. to Asian investments.
In a similar survey four years ago, only 30 percent expressed interest in U.S. investments, said Albert Behler, chairman of the District-based Association of Foreign Investors in U.S. Real Estate.
Mr. Behler said every major European city but London is struggling with overbuilding and lagging economies and that investors are wary of slowing growth and increased vacancies in Southeast Asia. …