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Barron's Real Estate Isn’t a Nightmare Everywhere. 6 Stocks to Play.

The train wreck in Chinese real estate is grabbing global headlines. But property in some other emerging markets is on a roll, buoying developers’ stocks.

India is reaping the rewards of more effective regulation and a rising middle class. Brazil and Mexico may catch tailwinds from falling interest rates. Dubai has become a refuge for migrants with cash, from Russian draft evaders to Asian crypto bros. “We have more exposure to real estate than any time in the past 10 years,” says Varun Laijawalla, emerging markets portfolio manager at Ninety-One.

India’s property market is a mirror image of its neighbor China’s. It stagnated for a decade after the 2007 global financial crisis while China’s was rocking. In 2016, Narendra Modi’s government pushed through the Real Estate Reform Act, weeding out shady developers and bolstering consumer confidence through measures like escrow accounts for prepaid apartments.

Now prices are rising at 10% a year, says Rob Brewis, head of emerging markets at Aubrey Capital. Inventory has halved from a 2017 peak even as apartment sales nearly doubled.

Macrotech Developers (ticker: 543287.India), the Mumbai region’s largest builder, is a top pick for both Brewis and Laijawalla. “They have very large landholdings on the outskirts of greater Mumbai, which will allow them to build at the affordable end of the spectrum.” Brewis says.

He also likes DLF (532868.India), Macrotech’s more-or-less counterpart in the New Delhi metro.

Latin America is ground zero for falling interest rates as global inflation subsides. Brazil, the region’s biggest market, has already slashed 250 basis points to 11.25% and could go as low as 8%, says Malcolm Dorson, head of emerging markets strategy at Global X exchange-traded funds. No. 2 Mexico should loosen this year from a historic high of 11.25%.

Brazilian real estate is getting an extra push from President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s revival of a subsidized low-income housing program called Minha Casa Minha Vida. Mexico is riding a wave of “nearshoring” investment from U.S. companies. Laijawalla’s top pick in Brazil is home builder Cyrela Brazil Realty (CYRBY). In Mexico he favors Fibra Uno Administracion (FUNO11.Mexico), a real estate investment trust heavy on industrial parks.

Dubai real estate is hot, period. Apartment prices have jumped 12% in the past year, says Abhijit Kukreja, head of emerging markets equity sales at Auerbach Grayson. Things will get hotter still, with housing demand outstripping supply by 40%, he predicts.

The dominant developer in the Middle East’s boomtown is Emaar Properties (EMAAR.United Arab Emirates), with a 30% market share. Its stock has climbed 40% over the past year. Kukreja sees another 50% upside. “I don’t think this sector is expensive at all,” he says. ”All the developers have beaten their estimates.”