Monday, December 8, 2008

Gee, could you paint a bleaker picture? And is that a good thing?

When I read this story, captioned "It can't get much worse," I wanted to jump out the window. Luckily I was in the basement.

Seriously, here's what some are saying in institutional investor land:

Properties with purchase offers are not closing; transactions are down; and managers are going hat in hand to their investors for cash to prop up properties they do own.

“There's no light, no tunnel, no liquidity, no equity,” said Jeff Barclay, managing director and head of acquisitions and development at real estate investment firm ING Clarion Partners, New York.

“Some people are being wiped out,” said Claudia Faust, co-founder and managing partner at Hawkeye Partners LP, a real estate private equity firm in Austin, Texas. Hawkeye takes stakes in real estate money managers

Deals are being broken at historically high rates.

Some buyers are reneging on deals struck just a month or two ago. Others have walked out on deals or “shamelessly” renegotiated deals after they have been struck, Mr. Barclay said.

Now, there are deals being done. Let's not forget that. We tend to do that, and yes, I do too. But there is also a lot of retrading going on. But a great example of even the best investors having problems with getting money can be seen here, where Tom Corfman tells us:

Hines Interests L.P. is struggling to finance a $536-million skyscraper proposed for a site along the Chicago River, as the credit crisis delays one of the city's biggest developments and saps potential profits on the 52-story tower.

Houston-based Hines' troubles show the depths of the financial crisis, which is threatening a project that until recent months would have been seen as a safe bet by lenders. Hines is one of the largest real estate firms in the nation, and its office tower would be anchored by two trophy tenants: investment bank William Blair & Co. LLC and law firm Baker & McKenzie LLP.

I think Hines will eventually do this deal. Reputation and all that. And hey, there was a full-pager in yesterday's Tribune for the Spire (heaven knows Sam needs all the revenue he can get).

I am being a little facetious here for a reason. A few years ago real estate was so can't miss that everyone and their mother was trying to get into it. And deals were being done that defied description. Now we are in the completely opposite mode. And that tells me that there is opportunity around the corner. I believe it was Nathan Rothschild who said, "Buy when there is blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own." Well, things are looking pretty bloody, and there plenty of opportunities afoot. The only thing holding some people back right now is tight credit or terms that don't make a deal economically feasible. When the business side works out, we legal guys are ready.

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