By: Ismael Rodriguez

It’s no secret that investors from foreign countries populate a good chunk of commercial real estate in the U.S., and they seem attracted to South Florida, which is among the top three markets in total foreign acquisitions with $2.94 billion.

Foreign buyers, within a two-year period ending on May 31, 2017, totaled $168 billion in U.S. investment sales, according to an analysis of Real Capital Analytics conducted by The Real Deal. And a combined $56.69 billion of that money was poured into New York City, Los Angeles and South Florida.

The truth is that countries like China, Qatar and Canada remain some of the biggest spenders in commercial real estate. But even the smaller countries like Spain and France have now cracked the $1 billion mark.

In South Florida, particularly, Spain became the largest investor with over $1 billion worth of deals. Ponte Gadea, the real estate branch of Zara clothing founder Amacio Ortega’s empire, bought a string of retail properties on Lincoln Road for $370 million.

China, of course, topped the list with $13.05 billion in acquisitions, dominating in New York. But the biggest deal in the city went to the Qatari Investment Fund, which bought a 44 percent stake in an $8.58 billion joint venture with Brookfield Property Partners to develop the Manhattan West project on the Far West Side.

And in Los Angeles, Singapore passed Qatar as the biggest foreign investor, primarily because of the 40 percent stake it bought in a $2.26 billion portfolio of five malls, including Lakewood Center and Los Angeles Cerritos Center, with Macerich.