Lincoln Equities Group recently bought 4,472 apartments in the suburbs of Berlin, Germany.
The Rutherford, N.J.-based firm partnered with an international pension fund to pay $357 million for the 69 properties, which also include about 180 ground-floor retail units.
The buy adds to Lincoln’s large international portfolio. “Lincoln Equities has already succeeded in acquiring 930 residential units worth 60,000,000 euros ($80 million) in seven transactions since April 2005,” according to a statement by the firm.
Rents in Berlin have been kept artificially low compared to personal income, especially compared to other European cities, according to Lincoln. That’s because of 60 years of government housing subsidies and social programs, many of which are being eliminated. The state is also selling off thousands of public housing units.
“Private, profit-motivated owners of these units will look to increase rental rates to more reasonable levels,” according to Lincoln’s Web site. Since 2005, hundreds of thousands of apartments have sold to investors including Goldman Sachs, New York-based hedge fund Cerberus, and Terra Firma, a private equity firm based in London.
Lincoln has already increased rents in recently vacated flats in its Berlin portfolio by 10 to 20 percent. The firm has also been able to raise rents up to 20 percent in occupied apartments by spreading the increase over three years. These rent raises are “merely the result of minimal capital investment in the vacated spaces and more active and attentive management,” says Lincoln.