Foreign real estate investors are flooding the U.S. with capital, reports the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE). Foreign investment in American real estate assets was up 59% from 2002 to 2003, and will increase another 12% between 2003 and 2004, AFIRE projects.

This resurgence of international investment in the U.S. will be the focus of a panel discussion during the 11th annual UCLA Extension Real Estate Finance and Investment Conference taking place Oct. 5 in Los Angeles. Panelists include Eedward Balazs of Eurohypo AG, Denis Epoh of SITQ CDP Capital-Real Estate Group and Peter Schwartz of Westfield Corp.

"The United States real estate market always has attracted offshore investors, and there’s no question that because of the current competition, deals are much harder to come by. This is true especially for yield-driven investors looking for fully leased trophy buildings," said Erwin Stouthamer, director of international real estate at Mn Services Investment Management and chairman of AFIRE.

Case in point: German investment in all U.S real estate classes year to date has already outpaced last year’s total, according to data collected by Real Capital Analytics. German investors spent $3.57 million on U.S. real estate last year. This year, that group of investors has already spent $3.79 billion through Aug. 25.

Eurohypo AG is one German player that set its sights on the U.S. real estate market. The firm, which originated $1.6 billion worth of commercial loans in the U.S. last year, has announced plans to bolster its presence in the U.S. commercial mortgage market.

So what are foreign investors buying here in the U.S.? AFIRE reports that retail properties topped the 2003 list, with multifamily investments coming in second and hotels third.

For more information on the UCLA Extension Real Estate Finance and Investment Conference, please visit

www.uclaextension.edu/finance