Friday, January 18, 2008

Why It’s No Longer Enough to Think Locally in Real Estate

Depending on where you live and work, they have already arrived. You might not see them but they’re there. The international buyer.

There was a time when real estate opportunities were localized. When people moved close to where they grew up and used the same agents their parents did. Agents who lived in the community. Who knew the community-from the inside. Agents whose sole specialty was those few square blocks or miles they farmed.

But during the past decade, much has changed. Fueled by employment opportunities, better ways of life, the Internet and investment opportunities, relocation has dominated real estate activity. Markets shifted as the real estate consumer needs shifted, but only a handful of real estate professionals and companies shifted with them.

According to a recent study conducted by the National Association of Realtors, Canadian buyers made up 11% of all foreign buyers in 2006, a number that has no doubt increased this year. Incredibly, 47% of these Canadian buyers paid cash. Moreover, the Canadian dollar, long the second child of North American currencies, is now worth more than its American counterpart.

Mexico is providing another significant - if counterintuitive - stream of potential buyers. While much is written about Americans buying second homes in Mexico, few articles have noted the increasing number of affluent buyers from below the border looking north to the Valley.

The bottom line is that we live in a global economy. Opportunity is knocking from outside our borders in profound and astute ways. Some are looking at the market and see no yonder. Not to the north, the south, the east or the west.

Others are already there. Cultivating. Building. And thinking globally.

John N. Vatistas is chairman of Scottsdale, Arizona based Equitable Sotheby’s International Realty. To read more click here.

Published Dec. 31, 2007 by RISMEDIA

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

China primed to invest in U.S. sites

Middle Eastern, Russian and South Korean money has poured into New York's real estate market over the past decade. And Chaim Katzap, an entrepreneur, is betting the next big wave of investment will come from China.

To tap China's swelling wealth, Katzap started Lion's Property Development Group in September to market high-end U.S. real estate to the country's new ranks of rich. So far the company sells apartments in two high-rises to be built in Manhattan and a third in Brooklyn. Prices in the three buildings average between $850 and $1,288 per square foot, which puts them at the top-end of New York's real estate market.

Katzap shrugs at the cost: "It's pricier than Beijing, but less expensive than Moscow."

As an immigrant from the USSR to the United States in the 1970s, Katzap started selling New York real-estate to Russian buyers in the 1990's. Lion's Property Development Group is centered on the belief that high-end Chinese investors, many who own several properties in China already, will, like Russians, be looking to invest abroad. "In China, America is seen as a guiding light. America is called 'meiguo,' which means beautiful country. To own a piece of the beautiful country is the ultimate dream."

There are already plenty of potential customers in China who can afford the dream of owning luxury real estate in New York city. Forbes Magazine counts 66 billionaires in China, in U.S. dollar terms, pegging China second only to the United States, which has 415. To read more click here.

By Lina Tornquist, International Herald Tribune
Published: January 13, 2008