BERLIN-Lincoln Equities Group, partnered with an international pension fund, recently bought a 69-apartment portfolio, totaling 4,472 units, for $357 million. The properties, in the suburbs of this large city, also include about 180 ground-floor retail units as well. The Rutherford, NJ-based group has a local office here.

Each building is 90% residential, says Joel Bergstein, president of Lincoln. The rents of about $600 per month for about 800 sf are some of the lowest in all of the major cities of Europe, he tells “Rents are low, even by German standards,” he says. “There are reasons. Until the unification of East and West, there was kind of a reluctance to develop new buildings, and that sentiment continued even afterward. Plus, the country is generally a socialized kind of environment anyway.”

He cites other reasons for the buy, including a new international airport in the city, as well as a few major government offices moving from Bonn into Berlin. “It’s become a very cultural area,” Bergstein says. “It’s a tight market, and the German economy is faring a little better than other countries during this downturn. Our hope is to buy cheap, and not get hurt too bad on the downside.”

The property is about 95% occupied, he says. There will be some capital, about $13.7 million, infused into the properties, Bergstein says. “We’ll refurbish some of the older vacant units, and some other façade improvement,” he says.

With this purchase, the company massively increased its operations in the country. Prior to the buy, the company had a little more than 1,300 units in the Berlin area. EuroHypo Bank provided the financing for the recent acquisition.

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