Sales of U.S. real estate assets by Japanese investors have tripled in annual volume since 1993, to $8.9 billion last year, according to a report by E&Y Kenneth Leventhal Real Estate Group.

The report noted that the $400 billion of soured Japanese real estate loans is more than four times the amount of loans sold by the Resolution Trust Corp.

Japanese owners and lenders are expected to sell $40 to $50 billion of U.S. real estate assets over the next five years, the report said.

The real estate consulting firm said the rapid selloff is creating opportunities for "opportunity funds" backed by U.S. pension funds.

The sales were concentrated in New York, California, and Hawaii. Among the noteworthy deals in 1995 was the sale of Japanese interest in Rockefeller Center in New York.

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