Jim Park: AREAA panel to discuss Chinese real estate investment in U.S. and Miami

Jim Park
Jim Park

Jim Park, national chairman emeritus of the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), will be one of three presenters at a panel on “The Art of Working with Chinese Investors” to be held Wednesday at the Centro Rooftop Lounge in Miami.

Also participating on the panel are John Yen Wong, national founding chairman of AREAA and chairman emeritus, and Anthony Self, vice president of industry relations at Ten-X, an online real estate transaction marketplace. The event is being organized by the Miami chapter of AREAA, one of three Florida chapters.  The others are in Orlando and Tampa.

San Diego-based AREAA represents the interests of Asian-American homebuyers and those who work in the real estate market serving Asian Americans. It has about 16,000 members, with 37 chapters in the U.S. and Canada. Members are mostly real estate practitioners – agents and brokers – as well as mortgage banking representatives and investment strategy professionals.

Park, who currently serves on Bank of America’s Consumer Advisory Council and is based in San Diego, was born in Korea and immigrated to the United States when he was 9. He studied at the University of California, Irvine, and at the George Washington University, where he earned a master’s degree in Public Administration and Policy.

The Real Deal interviewed Park to hear his views on Asian investment in Miami.

TRD: Why are you holding this event now, and why in Miami?

Park:  “The Asia Society recently released a very comprehensive report entitled “Breaking Ground: Chinese Investment in U.S. Real Estate,” and we will be explaining and discussing the report for attendees. This is part of our educational and awareness development effort, and is one of the events leading up to AREAA’s 2017 Global Luxury Summit to be held in Miami in April. The idea is also to put in one place the Asia Society data and discuss investment strategies.”

(The 112-page Asia Society report, produced in collaboration with Rosen Consulting Group and released in May, provides a macro perspective on overall Chinese investment, sources and volume of Chinese investment in U.S. real estate, analyses of regulatory and non-regulatory investment drivers and conditions, and assessments of the sustainability and implications of Chinese investment.)

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“The Asian-American market is growing rapidly in the US. Miami and Florida have been behind the curve on Asian investments and haven’t quite caught up with the rest of the U.S.  Miami is a very international market and investment from overseas has been a critical link in sustaining that market. But I truly believe this will change fundamentally.”

TRD:  Why?

Park: “Look at the data points. CBRE just issued a report listing Miami as the fourth most important destination for Asian real-estate investments in the U.S., after No. 1 New York, then San Francisco and Chicago. A few years back, there was no chance of that. Asian real estate investment went to other cities. A few years back, investment advisers in China listed Miami as a place for institutional funds.

There has been a large increase in the number of Chinese students enrolled in local universities, which means more families come to visit. There is much more interest in buying commercial and residential property here. A good chunk of Chinese capital in the U.S. is not for investment purposes, but represents a desire to move here. And all these Chinese coming here under the EB-5 visa (Immigrant Investment Program) will create new jobs as they invest.

Another sign that the Chinese are taking a greater interest in Miami … A Chinese investor just purchased almost an entire floor at Brickell City Centre.” (Following the interview with Park, it was reported that Chinese investors paid $1.75 million for a 47-room lakefront motel in the Orlando area. The Brickell City Centre investment was $10.9 million for 12 condo units).

TRD: When you talk about Chinese investors, do you also include Taiwan?

Park: “We are referring to investors from mainland China (the People’s Republic) and Hong Kong.” (Taiwan investors are in a different category.)

TRD: And what is your outlook for Miami?

Park: “Foreigners see Miami as a great place to be and to invest. It offers many options. But Florida is still very much of an unknown for most Chinese. Asian immigration traditionally has gone to the West Coast and to New York, and those communities have been drivers for foreign investment there. Now, Asian immigration is increasing, it’s currently the largest group – surpassing Hispanics – and is projected to continue increasing. There is going to be a lot of change in terms of buyers. Miami is still not there in attracting Chinese investment, but it’s going to get there.”

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