EUROPE – German open-ended funds have taken the lead in foreign investment in eastern European property, according to new research.

Jones Lang LaSalle said foreign purchases of central and eastern European property rose to 348 million euros in the first quarter, up 50% from the first quarter of 2002.

Property firm JLL said German open-ended funds took the lead in the market.

Central and eastern Europe are “firmly on the radar screens of investors,” says Matthew Ryall of LaSalle Investments. Ryall told the recent IPD conference in Wiesbaden: “Growth prospects going forward are astronomical.”

“Foreign activity concentrated on Prague and Warsaw, as investment in Budapest and Moscow was limited by lack of high quality properties,” JLL said. It said it expects total investment in the region this year to surpass the 2002 record.

The JLL report ties in with recent remarks by Investment Property Database chairman Rupert Nabarro, who says: “Cross-border European property investment is going to be an important area for the future.”