Japanese Properties to Quake?

It was bad enough that the whole of Japan was totally shaken up in more ways than one because of the tsunami disaster, but now it seems like the same is going to happen to what remains of its real estate market. Perhaps not surprisingly, companies are now reported as being “cautious” vis-à-vis the country’s property market although they are trying not to enter into drama-panic mode. As Prudential Real Estate Investors Chief Executive J. Allen Smith put it, “we are taking a wait-and-see approach,” given that so little time has lapsed since the disaster, thus rendering it too early to look at the economy and the markets in a stable light.

Real Estate Troubles Pre-Quake

However, what many are failing to realize, is that even before the terrible disasters struck Japan, the country was reeling from real estate woes. Indeed, over the last two-and a-half years, figures showed a drop in the country’s commercial real estate markets by nearly 20 percent (to the end of the third quarter of 2010). Even at the time this was somewhat of a shock, with Japan ranking as the second biggest “commercial property market by value,” being “one of the few major real estate markets to continue to record capital depreciation.” This clearly reflects its stagnant economic growth.

No Long-Term Lull

So the question being asked then – given all this background information – is what chance does the country now stand of beefing up its real estate market? Well, things don’t have to be all that gloomy, at least not for the long-term. While it is the case that companies like Prudential Real Estate Investors are standing back somewhat from jumping on Japanese properties, they hope this will change in the not-so-distant future. Indeed, the country was described by the company as “an important real estate market,” so with that kind of language, it is unlikely to show itself as a fair-weathered friend.

As well, one of Prudential’s new funds has “earmarked about 50% of capital for Japan,” although it is still “taking a step back” vis-à-vis the country and its real estate. Still, there is funding going on in certain specific parts and markets of Japan, like Tokyo’s retail property assets. Thankfully, according to Smith, “the assets weren’t damaged in the massive quakes.”

Prudential Investing

Despite all of this, it does seem that Prudential remains serious about Japan and its real estate market. Even when things were looking particularly gruesome, the company’s financial chair and CEO John Strangfeld committed the Prudential Foundation to putting $6.1 million to “support disaster relief in Japan,” at the end of last month. Moreover, at around the same time, Prudential Real Estate Investors “co-invested with clients on two Pan-Asia funds totaling about $1.5 billion that have ‘meaningful allocations to Japan.’”

So while things definitely could be better for Japan, its economy and its real estate market, given the earthquake and tsunami disaster, as well as the problems it was experiencing prior to all of this in its markets, it seems clear that there is still confidence in the world’s second largest commercial property market, third largest economy and global financial player.

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