$100M JV to Acquire, Auction Builder Inventories, Bank Foreclosures

Two real estate investment firms, Los Angeles-based LandCap Partners and Kennedy Wilson of Beverly Hills, have contributed $100 million in equity to a joint venture that plans to purchase newly completed or partially completed homes and condominiums in inventories held by builders and financial institutions. Aiming to hold properties no longer than a year, the venture will re-sell the properties, generally at auction through an affiliate of Kennedy Wilson. “A transaction might consist of 20, 30 or some number of units at one project or 10 units at 10 different projects owned by the same seller,” Stuart Cramer, senior managing director with Kennedy Wilson, told CPN today. Cramer (pictured) went on to say that the business model would aim at a return of 10 percent or above the cost of the property and the cost of holding, maintaining and marketing the property. “It’s an interesting business model that takes advantage of the current environment,” said Stephen Blank, a senior fellow, finance with the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute. “There are certainly risks involved in carrying vacant houses. You have to maintain them, pay operating expenses and taxes and preserve the value of the assets. But it is a sound intellectual business model.” Industry analysts estimate that builders and lenders today are holding more than 1.5 million completed residences. The joint venture is just LandCap’s third initiative. Formed in November of last year, the firm seeks investments in residential land ranging from unimproved land parcels to finished single-family lots. The partnership sells or options land to homebuilders, provides mortgage loans and engages in joint ventures with other real estate companies. The company closed on its first transaction in late July, with the purchase of 252 single-family lots in two master-planned communities in Aurora, Colo., from Quadrant Investment Group, a Miami-based private equity firm. A month later, LandCap bought a multi-state loan portfolio from Wachovia Bank. Kennedy Wilson has 20 offices in the U.S. and Japan. The company provides asset management, auction and residential sales, brokerage, construction management and trust management services. In addition, the firm’s investment arm provides fund management and advisory services for value-added and core portfolio investments, commercial and multi-family residential property acquisitions and note purchases.