I may have published my last post a few days too early. I spent this week at the Young President Organization’s (YPO) Real Estate Round Table. It was a gathering of members of YPO who are in the real estate business. After being around people from all sectors of the industry for three days, my take away is there are two clear distinct camps.
A fair amount of people are convinced that great opportunity in the distressed real estate market is right around the corner. Others believe that the opportunity is years away, if ever. I am trying to reconcile these seemingly divergent opinions.
Most of the confusion is being caused by the great unknown, what happens to the trillions of dollars of commercial loans that need to be replaced in the coming years. Obviously, we are experiencing a significant de-leveraging of assets. The loss of leverage will need to be replaced with a combination of equity and/or loss in asset value.
The big question is: How does de-leveraging impact property values now and into the future? The lack of an answer to this question, I believe, is largely the cause for the present lack of transaction volume. The spread between the bid and ask price is still wide because buyers must project this future distress into their pricing. In addition, lenders are not yet prepared to realize significant losses. To date, banks and special servicers who control CMBS debt are not selling distressed assets or loans in any significant way. Property owners who purchased assets from 2005 – 2007 either have lost most of their equity or are holding off hoping things will improve.
So will transaction volume increase in 2010? I think we will see activity and more assets and notes trade. I am not expecting the RTC 2 frenzy that some have been expecting but there will be deal flow. The only way to participate is to be conservative and stay in the market. Only while in the market can one ever hope to participate at the bottom.