Mortgage Bankers Miss out on Profits

A year ago, in what seemed like a supreme irony, the Mortgage Bankers Association sold its Washington, D.C., headquarters at a big loss.

On Thursday, insult was added to injury: The building’s buyer has flipped it for a big profit.

The transaction shows how quickly the market for well-occupied and well-located office buildings has rebounded in some U.S. cities thanks to yield-chasing investors pouring cash into commercial property.

A German real-estate fund is buying the former Mortgage Bankers’ headquarters from real-estate data firm CoStar Group Inc. for $101 million, CoStar said Thursday. In February last year, CoStar paid $41.3 million for the building, which is located just blocks from the White House.

At the time, the trade group for mortgage lenders, like many of its members’ customers, was “under water”—owing more than the property was worth— on its $75 million mortgage for the 10-story, glass-walled building. The MBA purchased the building when it was under development in 2007 for $79 million.

CoStar, which bought the building from the MBA as the trade association was moving out, will continue to occupy most of the property, having signed a 15-year lease as part of the sale to Munich-based GLL Real Estate Partners. The lease makes the building a much safer investment than it was a year ago and is part of the reason for the steep price increase.

The Mortgage Bankers Association declined to comment on the sale.

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