PIMCO calls bottom in housing, but likes REOs-to-Rentals over apartment building investments?

In a piece called Positioning for a Housing Recovery PIMCO says that the risks to housing have been overstated and while prices may continue to fall there are opportunities in the mispricing of that risk. They believe that the risk of the 11 million underwater home loans all becoming delinquent and going into foreclosure is much lower than most think. They also point out that the record low interest rates have created housing demand from large institutions (Like PIMCO, and individual investors too) searching for positive returns.

Shrinking shadow supply but still more renters

One of the opportunities they list is in apartment building investment, either through equity (owning) or debt (loaning). However they pass over multifamily in favor of REOs-to-rentals and distressed housing debt. It’s ironic that they would favor buying large numbers of single family homes to rent because the logistical nightmare of the scattered homes is what drives most real estate investors to apartments and other commercial real estate. The convenience of having 10, 20, even 200 units or more at one location on a single property on top of the economies of scale available make owning multifamily a much better investment.

While they do acknowledge the challenge of REOs-to-Rentals:

However, investors must be mindful of the operational complexity and illiquidity of a single-family rental portfolio. Managing a nationally diversified portfolio of rental properties presents unique challenges of surveillance and scaling, and procedures for maintenance and leasing must be designed to help protect earnings.

… Somehow that doesn’t lead them to picking multifamily investment. Are you a real estate investor who started out in single family properties and moved on to apartment buildings? We would love to hear your story-

Hat tip: The Big Picture blog

Whodunit? Great books on the causes and solutions to the Financial Collapse

February 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: The Economy and Current Affairs 

A year ago for Christmas I received a Kindle eReader (thank you Tammy!) and it has greatly accelerated my consumption of books. One of the subjects that I dove (continued to dive) into was the causes of the financial collapse. The conditions that contributed to our undoing, how we get out of our ongoing mess and the steps that should be taken to prevent a repeat are vitally important to our future as well as to our children and their children.

Learning from History

I have written about this myself since 2008 (see here and here for instance) and have read a number of books on the subject (see my Whodunit list down to the right on this page under Learning From History) that I thought covered fairly well the breadth of the subject and helped me refine my understanding. However I was humbled last night by a blog post on The Baseline Scenario that linked to Reading About the Financial Crisis: A 21-Book Review by Andrew Lo, a truly epic undertaking that is well worth reading on its own.

The causes are Read more

MA Supreme Court upholds rule of law in foreclosure case.

January 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: The Economy and Current Affairs 

Yesterday’s decision by the MA Supreme Court upholding the basic premise that the true owner of piece of real estate is the last legitimate signer on the actual title to the property and that title must be presented to prove ownership before a foreclosure can take place has been widely decried in the financial press as a grave injustice to the bank’s right to unlimited profits no matter what they did to find themselves in such sorry shape..

“WHILE THE BANKS may HAVE FAILED TO SATISFY the letter of THE LAW….” is a typical lead in to a conclusion like “With this ruling, you’re left with the problem that people who didn’t pay their mortgages get to keep their houses BECAUSE OF PAPERWORK MISTAKES”. [Emphasis mine] Read more

The Bank Bailout Trap

December 4, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: The Economy and Current Affairs 

We’ve cornered ourselves trying to bail out the “Too Big To Fail” banks. In trying to keep them alive in the name of saving the financial system we’ve been pumping them full of our childrens’ tax dollars to little effect and we wonder why they’re not really lending. The downward spiral of their balance sheets from both toxic assets and falling stock price continues but how to stop that spiral is being debated hotly in boardrooms, financial markets and congress.

What’s preventing a solution from emerging is the “Too Big To Fail” trap. Until we recognize that these banks have already failed and we are throwing good money after bad we will continue pouring money down a bottomless hole. It’s like lending ‘grocery money’ to a junkie. We can’t allow ourselves to be held hostage by a handful of big banks. Read more

“Those who fail to learn from history…

November 19, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: The Economy and Current Affairs 

…are doomed to repeat it”. Winston Churchill’s advice is very timely because it seems like 60 years is about as long as we can go before having to RE-learn the important lessons from The Depression.

The repeal of the The Banking Act of 1933 (AKA The Glass-Steagall Act) in 1999 was the beginning of the failure that ultimately led us to where we are now. One of the big lessons that the Crash and Depression taught us was that banks who took deposits and made loans should be separated from investment houses so that problems on Wall St. wouldn’t wipe out the whole financial system. When we unlearned the lesson in ’99 the banks and Wall St. had a heyday of buying each other up in a rush to create ‘financial super markets’. The idea was that once you came in to deposit your paycheck, they could sell you a few stocks, bonds, mutual funds and even some insurance.

Eventually we ended up with a couple of these huge financial institutions and the smaller regional players followed suite, merging and buying each other up to get big enough to stay competitive with the giants. Those from the Northwest may remember when Washington Mutual was a regional savings bank in the Puget Sound area and ran ads saying that they were your friendly local bank and would never do the bad things that the huge evil banks do. Read more