Mark Stapp

MIAMI—It’s no big surprise why Canadians are flocking to US commercial real estate. But if you ask 10 different industry watchers what property types are the most popular you’ll get more than once answer. caught up with Mark Stapp, executive director of the Master of Real Estate Development program at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, to get his thoughts on why Canadian investors in part one of this two-part interview. Be sure to come back to this afternoon’s Miami edition for part two. What is driving the appetite among Canadian investors? Why U.S. commercial real estate and why now?

Stapp: The United States is the top market worldwide for non-US investors. It has some of the best defined, protected property rights in the world, and there are very few barriers to entry.

Just about anyone can buy US real estate. This, coupled with our very stable political and monetary systems, make it a safe harbor location. Canadians see this as an easy place to invest in a culture essentially the same as their own, with ease of access—it’s next door.

The strength of the loonie to the dollar had made US real estate a very good value for Canadians. The loonie has lost strength compared to the dollar, but Canadian real estate is also expensive by comparison, so the values found in the United States are good.

The combination makes this a good place to invest. Plus, they get to winter here. Also, I believe that Canadians have some favorable tax policies regarding investment properties. What product types, specifically, are Canadian investors hungry for and why?

Stapp: All types. There are larger investors buying everything from land to hotels, and small investors buying single-family homes. In a market like Phoenix, Canadians accounted for more than 90% of the foreign buyers of single-family homes over the past several  years. Is multifamily still the darling? How do you see the appetites shifting?

Stapp: Multifamily is still the darling of the investment world. Everyone needs a place to live, and US residents are still economically damaged, mortgage underwriting is still tough, and the profile of the consumer is shifting, all of which makes the rental market good.