Over the past two years, foreign investment has been pouring into South Florida’s commercial real estate market, according to the CBRE report Florida: A Destination for Global Capital. The recent report indicated that cross-border capital flows into the United States have risen dramatically. It also highlighted that in 2015, foreign investment in Florida commercial real estate reached its highest rate in nearly nine years. The top markets capturing Middle Eastern investments were New York, London, Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris.
The Miami area was the 10th most popular global destination for Middle East investment over an 18-month period ended in June, according to CBRE. The middle eastern foreign investors invested $517 million into Miami’s real estate market during this time period, making it the fifth most sought-after market in the United States. According to the report, nearly $9.8 billion was spent on commercial real estate, representing 20 percent of all global cross-regional investment.
The region’s “growth and demographics create very strong positive trend lines for long-term holders,” said Charles Foschini, vice chairman of South Florida markets at CBRE. CBRE also noted the largest recent commercial real estate deals were the $64.5 million acquisition of the W Hotel on Brickell by a fund from Qatar and the $120 million purchase of Modera Town Center in Miramar.
“Middle Eastern investors continue invest in Florida generally and South Florida specifically for many of the same reasons as they always have—its growth and demographics create very strong positive trend lines for long term holders, where many of their funds and direct investors seem to be,” said Foschini.”Recent direct flights from Qatar to Miami will also help accelerate that demand by individuals and institutions alike.”
Teresa King Kinney, MIAMI CEO stated that, “Investors and home buyers from Dubai and the United Arab Emirates love Miami’s vibrant nightlife, art and international business center.” “The Middle East is part of an increasingly larger array of countries purchasing Miami real estate.”
UAE investors have made several high-profile Miami purchases. In February 2015, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority purchased the Miami Beach EDITION hotel for $230 million. During the same month, a corporate entity linked to Saudi Royalty paid $23 million for a plot on Indian Creek Island.
The proposed 1,000-foot SkyRise Miami tower is another project of interest to UAE investors. SkyRise Miami is an EB-5 project, which grants permanent U.S. residency to investors who create at least 10 domestic jobs and contribute at least $500,000 to $1 million in a U.S. business venture. Step America, a Dubai-based company, is seeking SkyRise investors in the Middle East.
Driven by its sovereign wealth funds, the Middle East spent $2.7 billion on real estate in the Americas in the first half of 2015, according to CBRE. That’s a large percentage of the $11.8 billion total that investors from the Middle East have spent on global real estate during that time period.