Commercial Real Estate

Starwood CEO: 'I'm bullish' on real estate

Wages last piece of economic recovery: Sternlicht
Wages last piece of economic recovery: Sternlicht

With home prices on the rise, international companies breaking into the U.S. travel space and the election almost over, Starwood Capital Group Chairman and CEO Barry Sternlicht said Monday that he is bullish about the future of the real estate market.

Sternlicht said that his company's broad reach across the real estate space — with hotels, apartments and malls in the United States and abroad — enables him to view the market on a broader scale.

"I think you can see acceleration in spending, incomes are rising," Sternlicht said. "I'm seeing that real estate markets, in general, have never been better in the United States."

He told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that rising prices of apartments and single-family homes were major contributors to the real estate market's success.

Sternlicht said some of the more major U.S. markets were buckling, taking a backseat to more up-and-coming cities like Seattle.

"There are more cranes in Seattle downtown than any city in the country, more than San Francisco and New York combined," Sternlicht said.

HNA buys 25% stake in Hilton
HNA buys 25% stake in Hilton

The CEO noted that Nashville, Portland, Atlanta and Denver are also seeing substantial growth.

Sternlicht spoke to some international players looking to break into the travel and hotel space as well, in response to Blackstone's deal with Chinese travel conglomerate HNA that was announced Monday.

"I think for many of these Chinese life[style] companies and travel companies, this is diversification, this is a currency hedge in case they continue to have to lower the currencies against the dollar because of the slowing growth at home," Sternlicht said.

The sheer number of Chinese customers who travel make deals like Blackstone's reasonable, if not attractive, for Chinese companies, he said.

So, with business strong and international interest in the U.S. market high, Sternlicht remains optimistic looking past the presidential election barring some sort of international disaster.

"I think the economy might surprise us," Sternlicht said. "Post the election, I think you might see companies take a more aggressive stance on spending their capital, building their plants and hiring, and the wages are going up."