The aggregate value of land owned by real estate investment trusts totaled 4.03 trillion yen at the end of March, up a sharp 63 percent from a year earlier, attesting to the solid growth of the REIT market, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry reported Friday.

The figures were revealed in the ministry’s fiscal 2005 white paper on land that was approved Friday by the Cabinet.

The number of REIT assets for investments came to 943 at the end of fiscal 2005 to March. Of them, office buildings accounted for 35 percent, followed by homes with 20 percent.

By region, Tokyo’s 23 wards made up the highest share, at 63 percent. The percentages of other metropolitan areas are increasing steadily, however, the report says.

REITs, which invest in real estate and pay returns based on rental income and profits from property sales, became available after the revised securities investment trust law took effect in November 2000.

REITs debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Sept. 10, 2001, with high hopes in the securities industry that they would lure individual investors amid ultralow interest rates and a slump in stock prices.

As of the end of March, 32 REITs were listed on the TSE, with financial institutions accounting for 60 percent of total REIT investors and individual investors 20 percent.

Behind the strong growth of the REIT market lie investors’ preferences for higher-yielding financial products as well as the active influx of funds from overseas, the report says.

REITs were introduced as a way to dispose of a huge amount of bad loans left after the collapse of the bubble economy in the late 1990s.

Now that the question of bad assets has been almost resolved, REITs are widely regarded as a financial instrument to diversify fundraising and hedge risks involved in investments, the report says.

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