PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Go Global! Real Estate Abroad

Dorothy Botsoe | October 2017

Being from Ghana, West Africa and having travelled to and lived in many countries, the idea of a Global Summit was exciting and a day to look forward to in New York City.

The event featured panel discussions that addressed different perspectives of how real estate is handled both here and abroad. What an incredible opportunity to listen and ask questions of movers and shakers in our industry who are active in this arena. What a day!

From the Hudson Valley, New York City to Warsaw Poland, real estate is a rich and on-time investment everywhere. The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and The Staten Island Board of Realtors co- sponsored their first Global Real-Estate Summit on Monday, October 2nd at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan, where hundreds of investors, real-estate agents and brokers attended. More than 25 speakers, top brokers, investors, developers, legal, and technology experts, held various sessions and filled our minds with new tools and information about how to operate in an international market and prosper.

Around the globe, real estate’s attraction as an investment, even as a cross-border investment, has held up notwithstanding unprecedented levels of concern about geopolitics in our stressful political climate. The summit’s theme was “building bridges, crossing borders to expand real estate markets” and the message was real clear—global real estate is on the radar now more than ever. This event was held right on time, amid skyrocketing foreign investments in the U.S. real-estate market, commercial as well as residential.

So what does this really mean? And how can we capitalize on this foreign market interest and trend? We learned at the summit to be prepared, educated and available to the foreign buyers interested in U.S. property and learn what you can about markets abroad as well.

A recent NAR survey found that between April 2016 and March 2017, foreign buyers and immigrants purchased $153 billion of residential property, which is a 49% jump from 2016 ($102.6 billion) and surpasses 2015 ($103.9 billion)—Wow! Another statistic that merits noting is this one—47% of Realtors reported an increase in the number of international clients over the past five years and 40% reported that they are confident the increased sales and leasing activity will continue to occur in 2017, according to NAR’s recently released 2017 Commercial Real Estate International Business Trends report. That’s good news for us all and reveals the enormous potential in global expansion as a way of thinking differently about what we call the American homeowner’s dream.

Just as there is increased interest in U.S. real estate, many countries are positioning themselves to be strong contenders to attract the global investor. In Australia, there’s some movement of investors toward the suburbs. Meanwhile, India and Vietnam have both emerged as “promising long-term prospects.”

What’s also interesting is the most expensive housing market in North America is not where you’d think. It’s not New York City or Orange County, CA, but Vancouver, British Columbia. Now, Vancouver is a beautiful city—a thriving deep-water port, a popular site for TV and movie shoots. Almost by chance, the city has found itself at the heart of one of the biggest trends of the past two decades—the rise of a truly global market in real estate.

And we are all familiar with the stories of Russian businessmen (oligarchs) buying up mansions in London, but this is a much broader phenomenon. A flood of money from wealthy people in emerging markets—from China, Latin America, Russia, and the Middle East—has flowed into the real-estate markets of big cities in other countries, driving up prices and causing a luxury-construction boom. I was really paying attention at this summit and loved hearing about where the money trail is leading.

What’s so special about all these places, including the U.S., that attracts all this foreign money? Well, it’s been said that the high earners tend to cluster together, which results in rich cities getting richer. We all know that there is major wealth in New York and it’s not all American made. Over the years, many immigrants have moved their business savvy here and are doing extremely well.

The globalization of real estate is here to stay and we all need to educate ourselves so that we can attract foreign buyers to our business and also know how to cast a wider net abroad for investors interested in that little beach house, condo or mansion off the Ivory Coast. This past week’s summit was a great start. Let’s continue to learn more about global real estate and as a community be prepared for what’s to come.

As always, I would love to hear from you. Please give me a call or e-mail and let’s stay connected. #wearetheworld, #globalhomesforgrabs. Reach me at 914-450-0600 or by e-mail at Go Global!

Dorothy Botsoe
Dorothy Botsoe is 2017 President of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc.