Canada Reclaims Top Spot in U.S. Real Estate Investments

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Canada consistently ranks high among foreign investors in the United States, and has again surpassed China as the number-one investor in U.S. real estate.

According to a new report from commercial real estate firm JLL on the first six months of 2017, Canada’s investments in U.S. real estate accounted for 30% of total foreign investments (about $5.2 billion in U.S. acquisitions), surpassing China’s share of about 21% ($3.6 billion). Canada’s acquisitions were divided evenly between multifamily, industrial, and retail-office.

Reasons for China’s decline in investments in 2017 include government restrictions on outgoing capital and increased focus on acquisitions in other world markets; Canadian investments in U.S. real estate, meanwhile, have increased significantly, and experts continue to attribute this to both Canada’s relatively-smaller population and how it and the U.S. were impacted differently by the 2008 financial crisis.

“It was mild in Canada by comparison to the United States,” says Amy Erixon of the real estate firm Avison Young. “Canadians were flush with revenue and able to go into the U.S. market when prices were low. It was a real buyer’s opportunity.”

Erixon also pointed to legislation like the U.S. PATH Act of 2015, which provided some tax-exempt status for foreign investments, as well as the current optimistic state of Canada’s economy. “In Canada, there’s simply not a lot to complain about right now. Small business is doing well. Big business is doing well. The stock market could be a bit better, but times are very good,” she said.

Canada-based pension funds have also more than doubled their worldwide real estate holdings in fifteen years, from 5% in 2002 to 11% in 2017. “This allocation has been steadily growing,” says Gaurav Mathur of JLL Capital Markets, ”which, in turn, has enabled Canadian pension funds to build up scale and generate strong investment returns consistently.”

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