March 2009

  • Mar

Companies with cash have their pick of distressed deals – EXCERPT

March 9, 2009

Polyana da Costa

Seeing opportunity in the midst of a downturn, some local investors with deep pockets are eager to mine the distressed commercial real estate market for bargains.

As commercial real estate owners grapple with declining occupancy rates and values, mortgages coming due and a need to raise cash amid a credit crunch, the investors are ready to spend — at big discounts.

Despite the difficult economy, some South Florida investors say there is plenty of money ready to be spent.

Casey Cummings, president of Palm Beach Gardens-based Ram Realty Services, said the company has about $125 million to invest left from a fund formed last year. By financing part of the purchase of the notes, he expects the investment value will reach $400 million.

In January, the company announced the purchase of about 10 non-performing loans valued at about $57 million and secured by land, retail and multifamily properties in Florida. Cummings said the notes were purchased for about 50 percent of the loan value.

And he still looking for deals.

“We are reviewing several deals,” he said. “We have probably seen 100 opportunities in the last 60 days, and we are actively reviewing them.”

Ram Realty’s Cummings said most of his focus has been on note acquisitions. “It appears the more aggressive sellers are the banking institutions selling notes, rather than owners selling properties,” Cummings said.