Cross-Border Investment Dropped Sharply in the First Half of 2020. But Foreign Buyers Will Come Back.

In spite of the current situation, global real estate investors still have a favorable view of the U.S. market.

While cross-border capital flows have declined considerably in the second quarter, industry sources expect foreign investors to return some time next year.

Cross-border investment sales activity fell sharply to $3.9 billion in the second quarter of 2020 due to the overall slowdown caused by the pandemic. Foreign investors represented 8 percent of total U.S. investment activity during the period, well down from the 22 percent high mark set in 2015, according to a recent report from data firm Real Capital Analytics (RCA). For the whole first half of 2020, cross-border investment in U.S. commercial real estate dropped by 34 percent year-over-year, according to a report from real estate services firm CBRE. JLL estimates foreign investment volume decreased by 29 percent in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019.

Industry sources maintain this pullback is not a sign of global investors writing off the U.S. as an investment destination.

“In some ways, the environment is quite good for foreign capital [investment] into real estate because the hedging costs have just dropped right down,” says Richard Barkham, global chief economist at CBRE. “We have got some pretty hot sectors in industrial and logistics. The U.S. has always been seen as the highest performing economy in the world. So, we do expect that investment to come back.”

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