GLOBAL - The US market has maintained its position as the top destination for foreign commercial real estate investors, although Brazil is coming to be seen as an increasingly attractive option, according to the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE).

Roughly 60% of respondents to the association's survey said they planned to increase their investment in US commercial real estate this year, making it the top destination, although that number was down from 72% last year.

James Fetgatter, chief executive at AFIRE, said: "The US is considered very stable compared with Europe and some parts of Asia. Even though it has its share of problems, it is considered a safe place."

The US also maintained its top position respecting capital-appreciation expectations, although its share of the vote dropped from 64.7% of respondents to 42.2%.

"The markets in which others want to invest - such as New York, Washington DC and San Francisco - are fully priced," Fetgatter said. "There are less opportunities for capital appreciation."

Fetgatter said US real estate continued to be seen as a safe haven, however, due to the fact it was the largest in the world, was transparent and offered a wide range for investors.

Brazil came in second place, AFIRE said, jumping 14.2 percentage points from fourth place year to be named the second best country for capital appreciation opportunities, pushing China into third.

And Brazil's largest city, São Paulo, rose from 26th place to be named investors' fourth most popular city in the world for real estate investment dollars.

The US, Canada, Germany, Australia and the UK (in that order) were voted the top markets for stability and security, while the top emerging markets were identified as Brazil, China, Turkey, India and Vietnam.

The most popular US property types were multifamily, industrial, office, retail and hotel.

The James A Graaskamp Center for Real Estate, at the University of Wisconsin School of Business, conducted AFIRE's survey in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Respondents to the survey currently hold more than $874bn of real estate globally, including $338bn in the US.