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January figures have made CRE investors cautious

Simmering trade disputes, volatility in equity markets and slowing growth are causes of concern for real estate investors, and there seems to be little consensus about how best to cope with these looming problems. Demand for commercial properties remains strong in Texas according to experts, but the market has cooled in recent months. These mixed signals have prompted many of the state's developers and investors to eschew speculative deals and remain loyal to conservative strategies that have served them well in the past.

Others are taking a far more aggressive approach. Northwestern Mutual believes that retail assets in the United States are undervalued, and the Wisconsin-based financial services giant is currently looking for an investment partner for a series of planned acquisitions. The company is also exploring commercial real estate opportunities in Mexico where regulations are not as strict and competition is not as fierce.

Cautious investors may be reacting to grim January figures that revealed falling sales volumes across all commercial real estate sectors. However, year-over-year prices were still up 5.8 percent overall and apartment values were 8.8 percent higher. The slowdown in sales is blamed by analysts on tougher underwriting standards rather than a lack of capital or demand, which is yet another sign of caution.

Pursuing real estate investment opportunities overseas can be profitable, but success involves overcoming regulatory hurdles and evading bureaucratic entanglements. Attorneys with experience in this area could help American investors who wish to explore overseas markets and foreign individuals interested in U.S. properties to avoid common pitfalls by anticipating potential legal issues and addressing them early. Attorneys could also provide assistance to developers who are having difficulty securing financing by scrutinizing the offers made by alternative lenders. These lenders are often willing to back projects that traditional banks have passed on, but this flexibility comes at a price that may not always be prudent to pay.

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