Driven by the adoption of U.S.-style real estate trusts abroad, weakness in the greenback and demand for international investment opportunities by big pension funds and endowments, American mutual fund companies are diving head first into the burgeoning international property sector.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Goldman Sachs, Cohen & Steers and ING Group are among fund managers to have recently taken the leap into international Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs.
American interest in the sector arrived abruptly and en masse, said Samuel Lieber, manager of the Alpine International Real Estate Equity Fund at Alpine Funds. "Historically, there haven't been any Americans" on conference calls for international companies, Lieber said, but "now all of a sudden, there are Americans all over the place."
Goldman Sachs just registered the Goldman Sachs International Real Estate Fund, while the asset management unit of Cohen & Steers will soon debut the Cohen & Steers Asia Pacific Realty Shares Fund, as well as a closed-ender for the region. ING launched the ING Real Estate Fund last month.
Here in the U.S., REITs are popular dividend producers and are tax-friendly. The adoption of that same sort of structure in international markets, on top of a cooling real estate market in the U.S., are the greatest contributors to the attractiveness of international REITs.