Edward Mermelstein, a real estate attorney in New York City who has Chinese clients, said he has seen little change in real estate purchases from Chinese buyers in recent weeks and months. The downturn in China’s stock markets began in mid-June, but Chinese investment in U.S. property has continued as usual, Mermelstein said.
“Chinese investors are going to be looking for returns similar to what they were getting in China over the last five years,” he said. “There are very few places they can achieve those returns.”
In the 12 months that ended in March, Chinese buyers bought $28.6 billion in U.S. real estate, up from $22 billion the year before, a NAR report published in June showed. New York was one of the top six locations, accounting for about 7 percent of Chinese purchases, and it is growing ever more popular, with Chinese investment in Big Apple properties skyrocketing in the past year.
In the first half of 2015, Chinese buyers, both individuals and companies, spent more than $3.8 billion on real estate in Manhattan — more than three times their total spending on such properties in 2014, according to Real Capital Analytics, the New York Daily News reported. They tend to buy prime, luxury real estate, Mermelstein said.
“We’re seeing typically the highest end locations, so anything surrounding Central Park is extremely popular,” he said. Also desirable are luxury residences and commercial properties along major avenues in Manhattan. Chinese investors have recently bought such big names as the Waldorf Astoria and One Chase Manhattan Plaza.
The all-cash buy is far from dead however, according to Ed Mermelstein, a Manhattan-based real estate attorney. Mermelstein attests to the fact that many buyers from China and Eastern European nations still come to the Big Apple favoring the all-cash deal. For affluent Manhattanites and other American buyers, the pendulum has begun swinging to traditional mortgages and other more creative ways of financing a home, Mermelstein said.
“I don’t believe stories about the all-cash deals have been exaggerated,” Mermelstein said. “ For many foreign clients, mortgages don’t make sense. They’re very into wealth preservation.”
Chinese investors and developers are flooding the local real estate market at never-before-seen levels, buying some of New York City’s most iconic buildings at prices that local buyers aren’t willing to pay.
“Insane is definitely the right way to characterize it,” said real estate attorney Edward Mermelstein, who’s worked on projects with Chinese investors. “New York has become the favorite place for the Chinese to deploy their capital.”
So far this year, the Chinese have forked over more than $3.8 billion on Manhattan real estate, a more than threefold increase over what they spent in all of 2014.
Ed Mermelstein, a founding partner of RheemBell & Mermelstein LLP, an international real estate law firm that represents high net-worth investors, developers and a broad range of financial institutions in private equity, commercial, and residential real estate transactions. GlobeSt.com caught up with Mermelstein to get his perspective…
“Many of our clients who were making substantial money in the oil sector had to sell, went bankrupt, and are putting money back into the businesses in order not to lose their businesses. They have to diversify into other means of getting income, and real estate has become a very popular alternative to their investments in their own country,” says Edward Mermelstein, founding partner of Rheem Bell & Mermelstein LLP.
International Business Times
Speaking to IBTimes UK, with reference to the EU’s decision to extend sanctions on Russia, Edward Mermelstein, an international attorney from law firm Rheem Bell & Mermelstein, said the extended sanctions would not worsen the economic situation in Russia, as the country has a history of remaining independent of the Western systems.
“I don’t see there being any new sanctions or any meetings that could worsen the situation, unless we are talking about totally disconnecting Russia from the American banking system and it’s very unlikely that it will happen,” Mermelstein, who focuses on Russian and East European economies, said.
“Assuming that it does, this is not the first time this has happened. The Soviet Union existed for quite a long time without being connected to the US banking systems and they did fine for 70 years.”
The average price of units in these new buildings is expected to reach a record $5.9 million this year, according to a report released Tuesday from CityRealty.
“It’s not just going to break all records in terms of price, it’s going to be the first to hit those records within the shortest period of time,” said international real estate attorney Edward Mermelstein, who completed the most deals at 15 Central Park West.
“We know that Nazarbayev is a constant, we know what to expect of him,” said Edward Mermelstein, president of U.S.-based Alfa Consulting Group which provides business advice focused on Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
“He’s made it clear he’s not a puppet of Russia and that he is not also someone to be used by the West.”
The Real Deal
Ed Mermelstein, a Rheem Bell & Mermelstein founding partner who works extensively with Eastern European buyers, said that “the bent on the [NYT] story which tries to indicate that foreigners are trying to siphon funds into the United States and painting it as there being possible illegalities associated with these moneys coming into the U.S. is, to a large extent, ridiculous.”
The Real Deal
Ed Mermelstein, a real estate attorney who has many Russian clients, said Russian investors have recently shifted away from high-profile, vanity condo purchases and are looking for stakes in commercial development, which can offer better returns than in their own home country. He recently closed several large deals with Russian investors that had been temporarily in limbo after the ruble’s steep decline at the end of 2014.
But Mermelstein said he’s actually seeing the economic situation in Russia help spur more investment in New York. “When the rest of the world is in havoc, the U.S., and especially New York City, is the safest and strongest place to invest,” he said, during a phone interview.
“I’m on a plane right now going to Russia to meet with groups looking to put money into projects in New York,” he said.
Edward Mermelstein, a New York-based attorney who works with Russian clients and advises on cross-border investments in the Russian Federation, is currently in Moscow and told CNBC that although currency controls are technically not the law, they are essentially in effect. He told CNBC that his clients cannot get their money out of Russia as of this month. “Clients who manufacture outside of Russia get paid in rubles and need to convert those funds to dollars in order to purchase and manufacture so that they can import more product into Russia,” Mermelstein said. “Today’s issue is they cannot get dollars out of the country, and so cannot purchase new products.” Banks are not processing the transfers, he said.