Real Estate Industry is a strategic element in urban competitiveness, economic growth and development, as it facilitates the articulation between economic activities, local assets (property/land) and flows of capital. Furthermore, even tough the perception is that it is a local business, with the globalization many of the largest developers and consumers of corporate real estate have become global (Bardhan & Kroll 2007). The foregoing has made the industry acquire a cross-border dynamic and makes the attraction of foreign investment into real estate development a key approach for improving the position of countries and cities in the global economic network. This work aims to explore the geographical structure and trends of the international Real Estate cluster, and then recognize the correlation of the Foreign Real Estate Investments – FREI– inward flows with competitiveness and real estate market factors of host countries and cities. The literature review covers the theoretical background of city networks, competitiveness and property market. These concepts try to connect the three main components of the real estate investments: the capital (investment flow), economic activities (corporate users) and the land (physical assets). The Study has a quantitative approach, with the use of secondary data. The first part of this study has a descriptive outline, comprising the trends of FREI at a global regions scale and the geographic distribution of investment flows at country and city level. The second part has an explanatory approach, using statistical modeling techniques to test the correlation between investments and competitiveness, and moreover to identify the determinants for attracting FREI. The analysis shows that despite the globalization influence, FREI holds the concept of real estate as “local” business in a broader scale: 62% of the links happen within countries of the same region, evidencing that there are opportunities of complement with the surrounding economies. Likewise, the research demonstrates that the cluster involves primarily economies in second and third stage of development, exposing that the market is still reliant on low-risk assets in a stable environment and that there has not been established an active industry in developing countries. Additionally, the instability experienced over the last seven years in the sector is evidenced. The 2007 international financial crisis had a deep impact on Foreign Real Estate Investments, corroborating the interdependence between financial market and real estate. This study demonstrates that location factors related to market size, labor market, financial market and connectivity are essential for attracting inward investments. The results of the model show that a variety of forces rule FREI, evidencing the need of having a comprehensive approach that surpasses the notion of real estate as property and involves other clusters To conclude, the country and city analyses showed the diverse drivers for MNC at different territorial scales. Without neglecting the usual national purview of the policy framework for attracting FDI, it is important to acknowledge the relevance of local and urban scale in the broader picture of globalization. Beyond the macroeconomic and institutional determinants, the position of the urban nodes in the global networks matters for captivating FREI.

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Wall, R., Stravropoulos, S.
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

Trujillo, A.M.S. (2014, September). The geography of foreign real estate investments. Retrieved from