Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Housing News Digest, February 21

Distressed retail property opportunites coming in 2012
More than $350 billion in commercial real estate loans could move this year and next, creating an opportunity for the distressed retail property asset pipeline to begin to move, Colliers International said in its U.S. Retail Highlights: 2012 Outlook report.

The Seattle-based CRE firm said there will be opportunities for retail investment of trophy assets trading at low cap rates in addition to a large pool of marginal or low- to no-cash flow assets that cannot be refinanced. The report says these assets will either default or end up in fire sale, creating opportunities for investors.

Proposed Bill to Speed Up Short Sale Process and Prevent Foreclosure
To avoid losing homes to foreclosure due to long response times for short sale transactions, three senators introduced legislation to speed up the short sale process.

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Arkansas), Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) proposed the bill addressing the issue of short sales timelines on February 17. A short sale is a real estate transaction where the homeowner sells the property for less than the unpaid balance with the lender’s approval.

Grubb & Ellis sells assets, files for bankruptcy
Grubb & Ellis Co., a U.S. real estate services company, agreed to sell almost all its assets to BGC Partners Inc. and filed for bankruptcy protection.

Grubb & Ellis listed assets of as much as $500 million and liabilities of up to the same amount in the Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York Monday. The company said it completed about 12,000 sale and lease transactions last year and manages more than 250 million square feet of property.

Some Doubt a Settlement Will End Mortgage Ills
Even as government officials prepare to unveil new standards this week for how banks treat millions of Americans facing foreclosure, housing advocates and homeowners are skeptical the rules will be able to do something past efforts have not: provide a beleaguered borrower with one individual to help them navigate the mortgage maze.

While the entire process of seeking a mortgage modification is complicated and time-consuming, few elements are as maddening as the inability to get through to a representative at the bank, or being asked for the same documents again and again.