In Florida, a groundbreaking decision by Governor Ron DeSantis to ban certain foreign real estate investments has sparked a major uproar among industry giants. Companies like Blackstone and Lennar, usually focused on skyscrapers and sprawling developments, are now fiercely battling a legal restriction that limits where people from countries like China, Russia, and several others can invest in Florida properties.
This isn’t just about buying a piece of land; it’s a chess game involving international politics, big money, and the very future of real estate in one of America’s most dynamic states. Let’s explore this story of where real estate meets global diplomacy and discover the surprising impacts of this controversial law.
Real estate giants like Blackstone Inc., Related Cos., Starwood Capital, and Lennar Corp., represented by the lobbying group the Real Estate Roundtable, are advocating against a Florida law enacted by Governor Ron DeSantis that bans certain types of real estate investments by Chinese nationals.
The Florida law, signed in May, limits real estate purchases by citizens from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria to under two acres and prohibits them from buying property near military installations or critical infrastructure.
Governor DeSantis’ foreign investment ban is a part of his presidential campaign, aimed at preventing Chinese espionage near U.S. military bases.
The law restricts where certain foreign nationals can buy property and bans most Chinese capital from funding commercial real estate projects in Florida. This has already caused delays in development projects, notably two by Lennar.
There’s ongoing lobbying to amend the law, with some progress indicated by the Florida Commerce Department’s proposed rules allowing up to a 25% foreign stake in property funds, subject to certain conditions.
Individual Company Impact
The law affects companies like Citadel and the Related Group, which have historically relied on investments from China and other countries. Ken Griffin of Citadel and Jorge Perez of the Related Group have expressed concerns and opposition to these restrictions.
Florida’s law is part of a larger trend in the U.S., with states like Texas, Montana, and Alabama considering or enacting similar restrictions. Additionally, Canada has implemented a ban on non-Canadians buying residential property in certain areas, partly in response to the impact of Chinese investments on housing prices.
There are legal challenges and controversies surrounding these foreign buyer bans, including a Department of Justice statement declaring Florida’s ban unlawful, but so far, the law has survived its first major court battle.