Thursday, May 14, 2009

N Texas Foreclosures Few and Far Between

DALLAS-Unlike other markets in which multifamily and industrial properties are going into foreclosure with depressing regularity, the Dallas-Fort Worth area seems immune from the distressed-asset syndrome. Experts at the Appraisal Institute, North Texas Chapter's Realty Symposium on May 12 said the trend is to try to preserve the ownership, whenever and wherever possible.

"There aren't many foreclosures coming into the system," said Dirk Goris, executive vice president with CB Richard Ellis. "There are a tremendous number of assets on the watch list, but lenders are more than willing to work things out." Brian O'Boyle, founder and managing broker with Apartments Realty Advisors/O'Boyle & Associates agreed, adding that the trend for the CMBS-financed product, especially, is to put the asset in receivership, preserve the debt, and write down the loans whenever possible.

The interesting aspect about this trend, however, is that buyers coming into North Texas to look for deals, are hoping for those foreclosures, but they aren't finding them. "We're seeing a lot more buyers coming to town, more than six months ago," Goris remarked. "I think they're hoping things will pick up on the foreclosure front, but there just hasn't been a flood of foreclosures. Yet."

O'Boyle pointed out that the smaller deals with non-distressed assets are getting done, especially those requiring a maximum equity raise of $4 million. But the institutional players are still remaining sidelined until the bottom shakes out.

The industrial side is mimicking the multifamily side. Additionally, the large portfolio packages so plentiful during the mid-2000s aren't these days.

Steven Berger, first vice president with CB Richard Ellis said that the days of massive industrial portfolios being sold as a single entity to an institutional buyer are gone. At one time, portfolio sellers were eager to sell lots of buildings as a package. But with smaller buyers stepping up to the plate, the sellers are changing their minds. "Single users are in better shape to be buying the one-offs from the portfolios," Berger pointed out. "Smaller banks can make the loans."

"The portfolio premium has vanished," added Josh McArtor, CBRE senior vice president. "The deals we're seeing right now are in the $25 million to $30 million range."

Much like their multifamily colleagues, the industrial panelists acknowledged that buyers are also looking for "the deal," in other words, the distressed industrial asset that the seller is desperate to get rid of. And, like their multifamily colleagues, the industrial experts said those foreclosed properties are few and far between, at least in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Both the multifamily and industrial sectors have seen drops in volume as well. ARA's O'Boyle pointed out that there were 211 transactions in 2007 and 105 completed in 2008. Meanwhile, so far in 2009, 10 have closed. "We're still faring better than a lot," he noted.

On the industrial side, McArtor said he and partner he and partner Jack Fraker managed to close 27 deals valued at $5 billion in 2007. A year later, the duo closed 26 deals. But the value was $982 million.

"This year, we'll beat '08 numbers," he said. "We're seeing acceptance of the de-leveraging process." While number of deals will grow, however, "pricing won't. Not for at least 18 months or so," McArtor commented.
By Amy Wolff Sorter with