When eight bidders were jockeying to get a slice of Corus’ assets back in September, there was hope that the transfer of the failed Chicago-based lender’s assets would set a bottom in some markets. But it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon.
In October, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) chose an investment consortium managed by Starwood Capital Group to acquire a 40 percent stake in a limited liability company that will hold an estimated $4.5 billion in troubled construction loans and real estate-owned assets from Corus. Included in that total are 112 construction loans for 102 properties that, according to Starwood, include 79 luxury condominium buildings with more than 12,000 units; 14 multifamily complexes; eight office buildings; and one land development project.
Starwood paid $554 million in cash for their equity stake, and borrowed $1.386 billion to finance the rest of their $2.77 billion bid for these assets through interest-free term notes that are being issued and guaranteed by the FDIC, which still holds a 60 percent stake in the Corus assets. That zero-interest loan means that Starwood is under no pressure to liquidate the Corus assets.
“They will probably sit on a lot of this stuff,” says Jack McCabe, president of Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based McCabe Research & Consulting. “They have a zero interest loan with the FDIC as a partner.”
Because of this, market watchers in the key markets—South Florida, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Atlanta—where Corus has assets haven’t seen a lot of change in price. And they don’t expect that changing anytime soon.
About 25 percent of Corus’ assets are in the South Florida. McCabe says the FDIC took on $998 million in loans on 14 properties. “It’s a big slice, but in South Florida, it’s more of a fraction than a portfolio that dominates, like in other markets,” McCabe says.
But McCabe says Corus seems to be holding those assets for now. That’s smart according to Lesley Deutch, vice president out of Lake Mary, Fla., for John Burns Real Estate Consulting because so many of the condos have maintenance fees reaching more than $1,000, scaring off buyers. “They’re going to have to hold until the market returns,” Deutch says.
Southern Nevada once accounted for 6 percent of Corus' total loan exposure with more than $360 million, according to the Las Vegas Business Press.
In that market, David Baird, national director of multifamily for Sperry Van Ness doesn’t expect sales soon in his market either. “I think Starwood will be holding this stuff for a while. Some of these projects aren’t finished,” he says. “The one’s that are close to finished have very low occupancy. Starwood will have to complete [stabilizing or building] these projects.”
So for those who were waiting for Corus to set a bottom in many markets, the wait could be awhile. “When and if we do see Corus loans and assets trade, it will play a large part in finding the market bottom,” McCabe says. “Until you see what the disposition prices are, you can’t say it’s playing a role in formulating a bottom. I think that activity is coming in the future.”