CFP RC43: Foreign Real Estate Investments: Agents, Networks and Strategies

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 30 Mar 2017 (updated conference details here)

Foreign Real Estate Investments: Agents, Networks and Strategies

‘Unreal Estate? Rethinking Housing, Class and Identity’, ISA – RC43 Housing and the Built Environment Conference, 18-21 June 2017, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Organiser: Sin Yee Koh, Universiti Brunei Darussalam

Discussant: Dallas Rogers, University of Sydney

The phenomenon of real estate investments by foreign investor-buyers in major global cities has been well reported in the mainstream mass media. In London, there is increasing academic and policy attention on the impacts of absentee super-rich and middle-class foreign real estate investments on housing inequality and urban social life (Atkinson, 2016). In New York, luxury real estate developments have been linked to illicit foreign capital flows and housing affordability concerns (Madden and Marcuse, 2016). In Sydney, the influx of Mainland Chinese real estate investor-migrants, especially from China, has sparked parochial, perhaps even racist, protests and contestations (Rogers, 2016a), a reminder of similar discussions in Vancouver two decades earlier (Ley, 2017).

Recent scholarship has critically reflected on the new manifestations of foreign real estate investment. Empirically, the key global cities of the world continue to attract the attention of global real estate scholars (Atkinson, 2016; Ley, 2017). However, an emerging group of scholars is looking far beyond the cities of London, New York and Vancouver to consider so-called second- and third-tier global cities. Others have turned their attention to the problematic East/West divide to critically reflect on inter-Asia foreign real estate practices (Kan, 2017; Kim, 2017; Pow, 2017). Meanwhile, global real estate scholarship has entered an exciting phase of conceptual cross-pollination. Conceptual developments are emerging across: digital global real estate (Rogers, 2016b); the geopolitics of global real estate (Büdenbender & Golubchikov, 2017); the new middle-class and super-rich (Koh et al., 2016); the financialisation of housing (Fields, 2015); the brokerage of familial, migratory, and education considerations (Robertson and Rogers, in press); affect and belonging (Atkinson, 2016); assemblage theories (Büdenbender & Golubchikov, 2017; Rogers, 2016a); historical injustice and colonialism (Madden & Marcuse, 2016; Rogers, 2016a);  and youth and gender considerations (Knowles, 2016).

Within this context, investor-buyers are increasingly positioned by local media in the key investment cities as the new architects of housing discrimination.  Local discontent is often structured around housing, class, cultural and identity concerns. Indeed, the tendency has been to blame foreign real estate investor-buyers, be they super-rich or middle-class, and this diverts attention away from the more pressing task of engaging with broader cultural, historical, structural and other forms of socio-economic critique (Forrest et al., 2017; Koh et al., 2016). What are the structural capitalist forces that are central to contemporary urban political economies and thereby facilitate the flow of foreign capital? Who are the agents and intermediaries, and are they as equally complicit in any negative social consequences of global real estate? What are the networks and strategies that make up the complex foreign real estate assemblages?

This panel will address these questions by examining the agents, networks and strategies that constitute the global and local landscapes of foreign real estate investments around the world. The panel will consist of a suite of papers examining themes such as but not limited to:

  • Discourses: Racism, inter-cultural relations, neoliberalism
  • Policies: Housing, foreign investments, immigration
  • Agents: State and non-state institutions, intermediaries, mass media
  • Networks: Investment associations, social media groups
  • Strategies: Knowledge production and dissemination, investment product and tools
  • Consequences: Temporal and spatial inequalities, access to housing
  • Alternatives: Contestations, injustices, social movements

If you are interested in presenting in this panel, please send the following to by 30 Mar 2017.

  • Title of paper
  • Paper abstract (up to 300 words)
  • Your full name, email address, title/position, and institutional affiliation


  • Atkinson R. (2016) Limited exposure: Social concealment, mobility and engagement with public space by the super-rich in London. Environment and Planning A 48: 1302-1317.
  • Büdenbender M & Golubchikov O. (2017) The geopolitics of real estate: assembling soft power via property markets. International Journal of Housing Policy, 17(1), 75-96.
  • Fields D. (2015) Contesting the financialisation of urban space: Community orgainsations and the struggle to preserve affordable rental housing in New York City. Journal of Urban Affairs 37: 144-165.
  • Forrest R, Koh SY & Wissink B. (2017) Hyper-Divided Cities and the ‘Immoral’ Super-Rich – Five Parting Questions. In Forrest R, Koh SY & Wissink B (eds) Cities and the Super-Rich: Real Estate, Elite Practices, and Urban Political Economics (pp. 273–287). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kan K. (2017) The shifting (geo)politics of foreign real estate investment in China: A study of Hong Kong FDI. International Journal of Housing Policy, 17(1), 35-55.
  • Kim HM. (2017) Ethnic connections, foreign housing investment and locality: a case study of Seoul. International Journal of Housing Policy, 17(1), 120-144.
  • Knowles C. (2016) Young Chinese Migrants in London. Available at:
  • Koh SY, Wissink B and Forrest R. (2016) Reconsidering the Super-Rich: Variations, Structural Conditions and Urban Consequences. In: Hay I and Beaverstock J (eds) Handbook on Wealth and the Super-Rich. Cheltenham; Northampton: Edward Elgar, 18-40.
  • Ley D. (2017) Global China and the making of Vancouver’s residential property market. International Journal of Housing Policy, 17(1), 15-34.
  • Madden D and Marcuse P. (2016) In Defense of Housing, New York: Verso.
  • Pow CP (2017) Courting the ‘rich and restless’: globalisation of real estate and the new spatial fixities of the super-rich in Singapore. International Journal of Housing Policy, 17(1), 56-74.
  • Robertson S and Rogers D. (in press) Education, Real Estate, Immigration: Brokerage Assemblages and Asian Mobilities. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
  • Rogers D. (2016a) The geopolitics of real estate: Reconfiguring property, capital and rights, London: Rowman & Littlefield International.
  • Rogers D. (2016b) Uploading real estate: Home as a digital, global commodity. In: Cook N, Davison A & Crabtree L (eds) Housing and Home Unbound: Intersections in Economics, Environment and Politics in Australia (pp. 23-38). London: Routledge.

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