The New York Times reports today that major investors, fueled by domestic and foreign investment groups, wealthy individuals, endowments and pension funds, are prepared to spend billions of dollars buying distressed debt and real estate.
These investors – often called “vultures” although the Times calls them “market opportunists” – believe that “some people have thrown the good out with the bad, and that the prices of some investments have simply fallen too far.”
For example, the Times reports that one Wall Street specialist in so-called distressed debt “recently spent at least $450 million for assets of Thornburg Mortgage, the battered mortgage servicing company. Others are buying beaten-down corporate bonds and looking at car and credit card loans.”
“They are buying up mortgages of hard-pressed homeowners, the bank loans of cash-short businesses, and companies that seem to be hurtling toward bankruptcy,” said the Times, “And they are trying to buy them all on the cheap.”
A former executive of the Countrywide Financial Corporation, one of the mortgage giants that fostered subprime lending, recently helped start a company to buy mortgages.
In addition, the Blackstone Group “just raised $10.9 billion from investors to scoop up real estate.”
GlobeSt reports that “According to a company statement, this fund was the largest real estate opportunity fund ever raised.”
Blackstone senior managing director and New York City-based co-head of Blackstone’s real estate group, Jonathan Gray, stated that “we believe there should be attractive investment opportunities for this capital given the market dislocation that exists today.”
We agree that the current distressed real estate market offers tremendous opportunities.
The time is right for active, intelligent investors to take advantage of the multi-billion dollar distressed real estate market. The real estate market is brimming with profit opportunities for those with leverage and expertise
But this is not an easy market for individual, smaller investors to penetrate.
The truth is that most smaller investors do not have the leverage and expertise to succeed in this volatile and extremely competetive market.
In fact, the effort that the smaller, part-time investor in foreclosures and distressed real estate would need to spend identifying properties, haggling with lenders and distressed owners, attending auctions and establishing financing is equivalent to a full-time job — and even then, success is far from likely.
Most smaller investors in this market will get caught up in the buying frenzy, spending too much time and money on so-called coaching and how-to courses from self-proclaimed foreclosure gurus, and then spending too much on property that will continue to fall in value and fail to provide an adequate income stream.
Great real estate deals do exist across the country. But to be successful, investors will need a high level of sophistication in identifying properties, acquiring them and developing the right exit strategy for each asset.
Smaller buyers, beware!
For the lastest on the real estate vulture fund being formed by disgraced ex-Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer, click here.