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IRVINE, CA-Sperry Van Ness International has launched a new division called the Sperry Van Ness asset recovery team to specialize in troubled-asset services for government agencies, lenders, special servicers and financial institutions. David Gilmore, an SVN managing director who is co-leader of the new group along with managing director Jerry Anderson of Sperry Van Ness Florida, tells GlobeSt.com that the new team aims to be a single-source solution for sales, repositionings and the full range of related services that will be required as public and private entities and individuals seek help in disposing of distressed assets.

Gilmore is a 25-year commercial real estate auctioneer and managing director of Sperry Van Ness Accelerated Marketing Co. Inc., a well-established auction group that has been disposing of commercial properties for the past seven years. With the combined capabilities of the Accelerated Marketing division and the other members of the new asset recovery team, he says, SVN is also set up to provide services such as loan portfolio sales and workouts in addition to property sales.

“We started doing this seven years ago because there is always bank REO at some level, even during the good times,” Gilmore tells GlobeSt.com. During that time, the Accelerated Marketing unit has sold office, industrial, apartment, retail and hotel properties nationwide for banks, private investors, institutional sellers, REITs, insurance companies, asset managers, special servicers, receivers and other owners.

The new Sperry Van Ness asset recovery team includes 20 members in offices around the country who have experience dating to the late 1980s and early 1990s downturn, when they disposed of properties for the US government’s Resolution Trust Corp. as well as other government agencies and private sellers. In situations where liquidation or disposition might be premature, Gilmore says, the team members have expertise in the marketing, leasing and managing properties to stabilize the or add value before a sale.

Despite the focus on distressed assets in today’s economy, Gilmore points out that the SVN accelerated marketing approach is not just for troubled assets. Even in the best of times, he explains, certain types of assets are difficult to sell.

“If someone closes a factory in a small town, you might have a 150,000-square-foot industrial building for sale in an out-of-the-way place where it is difficult to find a buyer,” Gilmore says. “Accelerated marketing gets the word out, creates urgency and gets people to take a look at a property that maybe they would not ordinarily consider.” He cites the example of the 414-acre site of the former Northville Psychiatric Hospital in Northville, MI, which the Accelerated Marketing group sold for $31.5 million after the state of Michigan had attempted to sell it three times with sealed bids but couldn’t close a deal.

Gilmore says that, with nearly 1,000 Sperry Van Ness advisers in 150 markets throughout the nation, “We estimate that we have an adviser within an hour of every commercial property in the country.” The 20 members of the new asset recovery team are geographically dispersed throughout the US, he adds.

The SVN asset recovery team is one of a growing number of initiatives that commercial real estate services firms and others in allied fields—such as real estate law and property valuation—have established in recent months to provide services for the anticipated increase in the number of distressed commercial assets nationwide. Gilmore points out that commercial property downturns typically gain momentum about 12 to 18 months after the residential market declines. Like others in the field, he says that the number of commercial defaults thus far has amounted to only a trickle of what it is likely to be.

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