Whereas large groups of loans in prior months have focused onthe well-known hotbeds of distressed properties—e.g., Florida orLas Vegas—this one includes "all the major MSAs," says Korbar. Thefact that more than half of the assets are multifamily isconsistent with their being close to major city centers, as is thepool's high concentration of retail assets. The pool includesconcentrations of assets in New York, Florida, Massachusetts,California, New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut.

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Investors may be seeing more of these geographically diversepools as 2010 goes on. For sellers, part of the appeal is "reducingconcentration of risk," says Korbar. "Also, you can optimize yourpricing by not just focusing on one distressed region or city. Andthe buyer's advantage is that you have more assets that arenationally dispersed. You open up a whole new buyer's market."

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Korbar says that wide geographic spread is a plus for localinvestors, and particularly smaller entities that may only want tobid on one asset. "It promotes buyers that are proximate to theassets," he says. "They know the assets very well, and theyunderstand the intrinsic value, both now and x number ofyears from now. They're not in it to buy it and flip it." At thesame time, he says, "for institutional investors that want toreduce their exposure to any one area, this clearly gives them alot of diversity."

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This pool also skews toward smaller loan balances, ranging from"a couple hundred thousand" to about $5 million. Korbar says thewider variety of loan sizes is an emerging trend in big loanpools.

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A new wrinkle in this pool is the advent of what Carlton callsits CEX Loan & REO MLS Exchange, which does away with thesealed-bid format. It allows potential buyers to bid withintimeframes they find conducive as long as the properties are stillavailable.

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"It's a real-time bidding platform, so it's first-come,first-served," Korbar says. "The buyer could buy on an individualloan basis or in bidder-defined pools." He says it offersadvantages both to sellers, by "optimizing price recovery," and tobuyers, "because you don't have to wait. Historically on a sealedbid type of program, you wait five to six weeks to do your duediligence and marketing, then you wait to see if you've won. Now,individual buyers can look at blocks of assets that they feelcomfortable with. That gives them the ability to do proper duediligence, and when they put in a bid, within 48 hours we'reletting them know whether or not they've been accepted."

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.