Investors have plenty of money, but assets are lacking
German and international investors are snapping up offices, logistics premises, hotels and homes. The boom in the real estate sector is ongoing. Only a year ago, individual properties were still the main attraction for buyers, whereas now large portfolios are changing hands again. There is a huge amount of money in the market: investors are buying at high prices and the financing is becoming increasingly creative, albeit within a sensible framework compared to the days before the financial downturn. Because high-end real estate in prime locations is a rare commodity, investors are moving sideways – out of the metropolises and into smaller towns on the periphery.
Project development – still a popular alternative with comfortable returns until recently – is now a rarity. As a result, real estate that does not even exist yet is being bought often and early. The residential segment is capitalizing on the boom and consolidating. Major player Deutsche Annington stepped up its nationwide visibility by taking over smaller companies like Südewo and merging with competitor Gagfah. Meanwhile, others in the market seized the opportunity to part ways with their real estate businesses and make a substantial profit.
Real estate practices exploiting international contacts
The boom in the real estate sector is causing the legal advisory market to flourish. Everyone is trying to get a slice of the action – with widely differing approaches. Asian investors have so far avoided direct investments, preferring to seek a local joint venture partner. Firms like Ashurst boast strong contacts here, thus landing the first instructions. Hengeler Mueller made use of its Shanghai office.
For US funds subject to the regulatory requirements of the German market, King & Spalding is very well positioned on the interface with investment and regulatory law.
Young real estate practices catching up
Once again, the established teams advised on the year’s top deals, above all Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Clifford Chance, who handled the Trianon transaction, as well as Hengeler Mueller and Noerr, who advised LEG and Deutsche Annington respectively on a major residential portfolio deal. However, young up-and-coming practices are hot on their heels. DLA Piper, for example, landed a major instruction for Blackstone off the back of a transaction. McDermott Will & Emery sold a large portfolio for SEB and enhanced its real estate practice with a public lawyer from Gleiss Lutz. CMS Hasche Sigle bolstered the field of funds advice with a former Freshfields partner. These firms are coming into play because many investors are diversifying their advisor portfolios and also attaching more weight to asset management.
While business was buzzing, in terms of staff moves the real estate market was relatively quiet. However, the move of Olswang’s entire Berlin office around renowned Dr. Christian Schede to Greenberg Traurig caused a stir. That said, the team and strategy both remain the same.
Firms in this chapter offer advice on the acquisition, sale and financing of real estate and portfolios, structuring of real estate funds ( ?investment funds and asset management), development of complex real estate projects and industrial real estate ( ?environmental and planning law), project finance and private financing of public real estate projects and privatization, and renting and leasing of industrial real estate. Clients include funds, institutional investors, financers, investors and institutional developers.
JUVE Law Firm of the year