Making Their Mark: The Growing Influence of High-Net-Worth Investors in Large-Scale Commercial Real Estate

Non-billionaire HNW investors are increasingly competing on large-scale commercial assets.

Not so long ago, the vision of high-net-worth (HNW) investors in commercial properties entailed doctors and lawyers passing the hat at the country club in an effort to buy an eight-unit apartment complex in town or the retail strip across the street from church. In recent years, however, this image has been washed away in a veritable flood of HNW capital propelled by increased sophistication and growing incentives.

Billionaires have long been a fixture in this landscape. For instance, the late Paul Allen’s Vulcan Real Estate has led the redevelopment of Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood with billions of dollars invested in 37 construction projects. These homegrown ultra-rich are complemented in U.S. commercial real estate acquisitions by the investments of sheiks from the Middle East, Chinese billionaires and other uber-wealthy foreign nationals. However, these family offices are essentially institutions themselves.

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