Time to invest outside Canada?

Leo de Bever, CEO of the Alberta Investment Management Corp., told the Wall Street Journal that the fund’s appetite for real estate investment in Canada is waning. He points to a dearth of good properties on the market and very little indication corporate investors are looking to sell up anytime soon.

“We’re kind of nervous because the problem with Canada is that all the good assets are already owned like people like us, so there’s very little to buy,” he told WSJ in late June: “Our (real estate market) looks a little toppy and that’s why we’ve been looking for opportunities abroad.”

That global approach is increasingly being adopted by small investors as they look for their own opportunities in the U.S., but also the Caribbean and other parts of North America. Many, of course, are also looking farther afield to South America and Asia, although investment is more often through a REIT or other “paper” buy.

For de Bever’s Alberta fund, the move to go outside the country means building up the percentage of non-Canadian assets beyond the current 12 per cent.

AIMCO’s holdings are Alberta heavy at 31.9 per cent. It’s a market that investors of all stripes have gravitated to this year, helping lift property values in both the residential and commercial branches.

Still, a relatively stagnant market for Alberta oil has limited the pace of growth, with some analysts suggesting that should keep prices within reach of homebuyers. It could also limit rental demand growth.

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