U.S. Developers Dive Into South America's Thriving Real Estate Markets

With growth rates expected to continue to surpass the United States and Europe over the next decade, U.S.-based developers are making big bets on the demand for residential, office, and retail properties in Brazil, Uruguay, and Colombia.
March 25, 2013, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In the capitals and resorts of South America, U.S.-based developers like "the Related Group of Florida, in a joint venture with the Related Companies based in New York, and Donald J. Trump, as well as real estate investors like the billionaire Sam Zell," are finding appetizing opportunities to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, reports Alexei Barrionuevo.

"For decades, those countries were not seen as very safe bets by many foreign real estate developers. Now Brazil, especially, has become the object of a lot of attention."

“'Someone from the interior of Brazil, who in the past would have bought a home in Paris or New York, will now buy it in Rio,' said José Conde Caldas, president of the Association of Directors of Real Estate Companies in Rio de Janeiro, who predicts strong growth at least through the 2016 Rio Olympics. In his 41 years in real estate, he added, 'this is the best time of all the times.'”

"But are those times ending?" asks Barrionuevo. "Lately, sales of new residential properties have tapered off. In both Rio and São Paulo the number of new residential development units peaked in 2010. Residential sales in São Paulo fell by nearly 5 percent last year."

“São Paulo had a period of overbuilding and has quieted down the past few years,” said Jorge Pérez, chairman of Related Group. But “we feel that Brazil over the next decade will have a much greater growth rate than the United States, and definitely than Europe. There will be bumps on the road, like all development markets.”

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Published on Thursday, March 21, 2013 in The New York Times
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