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Why Los Angeles Tied New York In Foreign Investments In 2017

Los Angeles tying New York as the No. 1 U.S. city for foreign real estate investors in 2017 came as no surprise to OUE Limited Executive Vice President Dolf Renaud.

A ground-level view of the US Bank building and other skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles

Five years ago, Singapore-based OUE Limited purchased the iconic US Bank Tower in downtown LA, bullish on the growing financial prospects of Los Angeles.

“We like the market and downtown,” Renaud said. “We are aggressively looking for investment opportunities in the Los Angeles County area. We’re sold on LA.”

Los Angeles is one of the top five cities in the U.S. for foreign real estate investments, according to a survey released Monday by the University of Wisconsin on behalf of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate. The city tied New York for first place, Seattle came in third, Washington, D.C., fourth and San Francisco rounded out the top five.

AFIRE is an international association for institutional real estate investors.

In 2014, Los Angeles placed fifth on the survey. Two years later, the survey ranked Los Angeles second before it tied for first with New York last year.

The survey said Los Angeles' industrial sector is one of the main reasons for the increase in investments. 

“With the growth of online shopping, foreign investors continue to rank industrial/logistics properties as their number one investment opportunity,” AFIRE CEO Jim Fetgatter said in the news release. 

“The cargo coming into the Port of Los Angeles represents 43% of all cargo coming into the United States,” he said. “Respondents also say online shopping is likely to have the biggest effect on real estate over the next five years. With these as benchmarks, it’s easy to see why investors would be bullish on Los Angeles.” 

Renaud said there are other economic and social reasons foreign investors are putting their money in Los Angeles. 

“Los Angeles is still in the middle of the economic recovery,” Renaud said. “It’s the closest city to the Pacific Rim, there are now a lot of commercial business district clusters, and you have the cachet of Beverly Hills and downtown Los Angeles.”

He said compared to the other major cities such as San Francisco, New York and Seattle, Los Angeles commercial real estate is priced right.

“There is still value to be had compared to the other markets,” he said.

Renaud said most of the foreign money is coming from investors in Canada, Mexico, Germany and other parts of Europe. Investors from China have scaled back on new investments in Los Angeles, he said.

“A year ago, China was one of the main investors in LA County,” he said. “Now it’s more balanced.”

Renaud said he does not expect foreign investments to drop off in the Los Angeles area any time soon.

With Republicans in power, there’s a push for more business and growth.

“The GDP is up. Whether you want to credit [President Donald] Trump or not, the numbers are what they are,” Renaud said. “There’s a push for a stronger business environment.”

To hear more on foreign investment in Los Angeles, join us at Bisnow'Los Angeles Capital Markets and Foreign Investment event Feb. 28.