Post-quake price falls fail to materialise in Tokyo property

With little exposure to Greek debt, domestic banks are still lending to Japan’s real estate sector.
Post-quake price falls fail to materialise in Tokyo property

Talking to a private equity executive in Tokyo last week, he said he was on the 12th floor of his building in Otemachi when the quake struck in the spring.

The building rocked so vigorously that his biggest worry was that it was going to strike the building next door, which was also shaking to and fro.

He needn’t have worried, because he found out that the builders had taken this into consideration when they were building both structures, and had the forethought to arrange for one building to waggle north/south, and the one next door east/west, so that they wouldn’t bash into each other.

Life for Tokyo buildings has gotten back to normal. Less affected by Greece than banks in other countries, Japanese banks are still lending for real estate, especially for well-located and occupied properties in Tokyo. There has been improvement in obtaining secured loans outside of Tokyo, although exits can still be tricky.

Investors had been poised to capitalise on any price falls, but that hasn’t really happened and there have not been many distressed sellers. J Reits have been active and there have been five equity offerings since the spring.

“I see deal opportunities deriving from loans secured by commercial mortgage-backed securities that need refinancing, as well as corporate owners disposing of non-core properties,” says Tom Mills, CEO for property fund managers MGPA in Japan.

The fund is looking for deals for its MGPA Asian Fund 3, such as class B offices in Tokyo built post 1981 that require some capital expenditure and refurbishment as well as core plus properties to go into a Core Plus Fund.

“Also I see potential deals from private real estate funds nearing the end of their fund’s life and banks disposing of properties that they have foreclosed upon or taken control of.”

At present in its Tokyo property portfolio, MGPA owns an 8,830 square metre, 10-storey office building in Kameido, and the nine-storey Sanbancho building in the Chiyoda district. Its successful exits in Tokyo include office properties in the Ueno and Toranomon districts.

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