Roundtable Chairman Raises Concerns About Florida Law Impacting Foreign Investments in Real Estate
December 15, 2023
Roundtable Chairman John Fish (Chairman & CEO, Suffolk), above, was quoted in media articles this week raising concerns about certain aspects of a new Florida law that would limit and regulate the sale and purchase of certain Florida real property by “foreign principals” from “foreign countries of concern.”
Foreign Investment in Florida Property
Fish commented to Bloomberg about Florida’s SB 264, stating, “The law is far-reaching, very, very confusing, and the unintended consequences would be very, very detrimental.” (Bloomberg, Dec. 11 | Bisnow and Inman, Dec. 12)
The Real Estate Roundtable urged the Florida Real Estate Commission on Sept. 5 to consider specific concerns about implementing the state law, which could impair capital formation and hinder the important role legitimate foreign investment plays in U.S. real estate, the broader economy, and job growth. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 8)
Need for Clarifications
In response, the Florida Department of Commerce on Sept. 21 proposed a positive clarification to one section of the law, which could have implications for similar laws in other states.
Montana and Alabama have also passed legislation with similar restrictions to Florida’s that ban the sale or lease of agricultural land, critical infrastructure, and properties near military bases to “foreign adversaries,” including China. (Inman, Dec. 12)
Broader prohibitions in another area of Florida’s SB 264—Section 204—generally preclude Chinese investors from acquiring “any interest”in any Florida real property anywhere in the state. The Roundtable is hopeful that Section 204 will be subject to clarification during the rulemaking process. (See highlighted areas in the Notice of Proposed Rule)
Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer noted in his Sept. 5 letter, “Our concern with the new law is that U.S.-managed investment funds, which are controlled and managed by U.S. nationals, may now be precluded from pursuing investment opportunities in Florida if there is any level of investor participation in the fund from countries of concern like China.”
The Roundtable is seeking a technical clarification that would permit U.S.-managed investment funds, which may include passive investor participation from investors across the globe to continue to pursue investment opportunities in Florida.
Non-U.S. investors routinely subscribe for small, generally passive minority interests in these funds. These investors exercise no control over the investments or the operation of the assets. Importantly, the investment decisions are made by the U.S.-managed funds, not by passive investors who simply commit capital for a return, not to control the underlying investments.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has launched the SecureFlorida Portal, where foreign principals from foreign countries of concern like China must register property.