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Sean Ryan is associate editor of Real Estate New Jersey.

TEANECK, NJ-Investing in real estate overseas isn’t the most secure move, but investors are hoping the benefits outweigh the risks. A panel at the New Jersey chapter meeting of NAIOP discussed “Global Real Estate Investment – Inbound and Outbound” at the Glenpointe Marriott. Foreign investors tend to be more adventurous then local investors, regardless of the country in question, said moderator Alex Klatskin, a partner at Forsgate Industrial Partners and vice chair of government affairs for NAIOP on a national level. “Out of town money looks forward, local money looks backward.”

Out-of-town money is thus usually the highest bidder, said Chris Sameth, a partner at Investcorp’s New York office. American investor money goes overseas in part because of the intensely competitive nature of local real estate markets. Investments with greater potential yields can be found easier in emerging markets.

The risk of unstable governments is something to seriously consider, Klatskin said. Any regime change could bring about what he called a “Thanks for your building, but it’s ours now” seizure by a local government.

Scott Perkins, managing director for NAI James E. Hanson, saw the temporary labor boom in Mexico as a repeatable trend. Manufacturing jobs flocked to Mexico for a few years, until Mexico’s labor costs rose and China’s became more competitive. “I think [labor]‘ll go to another area as China rises up.”

China and the new European Union countries are growing their middle classes from economic booms. The new Eastern Europe member nations have a stable economy but bad infrastructure, which present opportunities, Perkins said. Unlike France and other Western European countries, he noted hiring and firing employees is less regulated and thus allows for easier expansion.

European countries that have English as a major spoken language are picking up a lot of employment with direct customer interaction, reported Shari Barnett, director of global business consulting and client solutions for Cushman & Wakefield. Those countries without many English speaking employees are picking up the jobs for back-office locations.

The yet-to-be-determined financial capital of the Middle East could be Dubai, but could also be Bahrain or Abu Dhabi: all three have massive amounts of speculative development underway. “But who will occupy all these offices and six-star hotels?” Cameth asked. Dubai alone is referred to as “Las Vegas on steroids.”

Much of the development in the Middle East is Sharia compliant, which excludes any liquor sales, movie theaters or rental chains, and financial-services clients that deal with interest. Complicated JV maneuvers are a regular feature of this sort of development, Perkins said.

Barnett was recently looking for a client to have a global headquarters. She thought New York City was an obvious location, but factors including anti-American sentiment knocked it from consideration. Toronto was eventually chosen, out of a list of cities without a single American entry.

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