BOSTON-For some, the current credit crunch is a crisis, but others see increasing opportunities, as underscored by yesterday’s announcement from DebtX that it is bringing a $380-million pool of commercial real estate loans to the market. The locally based firm plans to peddle the notes in a four-pronged campaign conducted through its on-line exchange, beginning with a $70-million package that begins accepting bids on April 15.
The uncertain climate is stirring more lenders to harvest their notes in the expanding secondary market, according to DebtX CEO J. Kingsley Greenland II. Founded in 2000, DebtX is seeing “significantly more” activity than normal, he tells GlobeSt.com. “There’s more downside that upside right now,” he relays, explaining such turmoil often leads lenders to forgo “asset gathering” and focus on stabilizing a portfolio. Concentrated on the southeastern US, the loans assembled by DebtX run the gamut in quality, from non-performing and sub-performing to those that are up to date. The remaining three sales will each be around $100 million, says Greenland, with bidding for later traunches overlapping the completion of earlier rounds. Bidders will be allowed to pursue both individual and pools of loans.
The initiative involves more than 200 lending relationships, and the loans are secured by land as well as commercial and residential properties. There is not, however, an over-concentration of multifamily in the portfolio, says Greenland, despite that market’s continued difficulties in Florida and Texas and the anticipated availability of debt deals from that area. Loans in the DebtX stack are backed by assets in Atlanta, Orlando and south Florida, and range in size up to $20 million.
DebtX says lenders increasingly seek to avoid the onerous loan workout route and Greenland says he believes the most efficient way to maximize value is via a bulk offering. Certain buyers might be willing to pay more for a series of similar loans than individuals would for each note, he says. “And we are working for the seller,” he stresses. Greenland is also unabashedly supportive of the firm’s Internet platform to spread the word about the loans, insisting it benefits both sides of the aisle.
DebtX has more than 3,500 investors and 200 financial institutions selling through its exchange, offering a breadth that the firm lists among the world’s largest online marketplaces for loan sales. “Its good for the buyer because you get to look at more product and look at specific product,” says Greenland, whose firm also has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Frankfurt, Germany. The former president of Boston Capital Mortgage Co. founded DebtX in 2000 with the premise that technology could streamline the emerging secondary loan arena, leading to creation of its own products and systems. The DebtX exchange services commercial, consumer and specialty finance debt.
The commercial real estate debt market certainly does appear vibrant no matter what medium through which the loans are being traded. Traditional buyers of debt are being joined by new players such as Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. of Brighton, one of several real estate investors now adding loan buys to their repertoire. “We’ve got tons going on,” concurs NAI Hunneman Commercial Corp. VP Mark Hall, a veteran specialist in debt sales who says his firm’s offerings are also “across the board” in terms of credit quality. “It’s busy out there,” says Hall, calling the new pool from DebtX “the tip of the iceberg” of what could soon hit the street.