The Housing Chronicles Blog: Vulture investors returning to the existing home market

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Vulture investors returning to the existing home market

First it was funds going after distressed land assets, now the second phase has begun, which targets the existing home market. The housing vulture investors have returned, but this could help provide a pricing floor to the market that so far Congress has been unable to address. From a story:

Rock-bottom home prices have finally begun to lure vulture real estate investors into the fray... Peter Zalewski, founder of Florida-based Condo Vultures, LLC, which specializes in bulk purchases of condo properties, is finding very deep discounts for his clients. In one deal he recently negotiated in Tampa, a developer's lender agreed to sell 149 units for $12 million - a 43% discount to the outstanding $21 million loan... ...buyers like Jeff Ball, president of Austin, Texas-base Econohomes, purchase packages of bank-owned homes from lenders and resell them after little if any rehab. He buys five to 50 houses at a time, sight unseen. Often, the homes come with encumbrances, like back taxes, water bills or other liens that can add up to tens of thousands. Still, he comes out ahead...

His business has been criticized; usually city officials would prefer the homes be renovated before they're resold. But Ball said the money spent doing that would make the business unprofitable; nobody would buy at the prices he would have to charge. They would sit vacant and become havens for squatters, looters and drug dealers.

"The most significant thing is to stabilize the situation," Ball said. "Get people back in the house." The new owners move in and start taking care of the properties, according to Ball. If that starts to happen in large numbers, these communities may spring back to life....

Despite these bargains, many big investors who buy in bulk have been slow to start shopping, according to Jack McCabe, a Florida real estate consultant. They're after even deeper discounts, and prices are indeed projected to keep falling in the next year - by double digits in parts of California and Florida.

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