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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

TAMPA, FL-Bill Eshenbaugh has built a national reputation as a land broker over the past four decades, including as a “special assets” expert with the Resolution Trust Corp. in the early 1990s. Now he is embarking on a new venture aimed at helping financial institutions shed mounting foreclosed properties.

Eshenbaugh and his wife Lynda Keever, recently retired publisher of Florida Trend magazine, have established USAsset Management & Disposition Corp. The company offers to assist banks in managing their REO properties, then selling them at the best price possible.

“There’s almost a 100% probability that we can sell them,” Eshenbaugh, president of USAsset Management, tells GlobeSt.com. The real challenge, he says, is convincing lenders that they may have to accept lower prices and write-downs for less than current appraised value, then make sure buyers are able to close in a timely fashion. “You’ve got to be very, very patient from our perspective,” he adds.

Nicknamed the “Dirt Dog,” Eshenbaugh has cemented a reputation for being able to complete land deals in good and bad real estate markets. He estimates as many as 64,000 foreclosed properties in Florida alone, plus tens of thousands others across the US.

He has established numerous contacts with national bankers through his experience with the RTC and various other real estate workouts, while his wife has similar ties with banks, businesses and real estate firms throughout Florida. Eshenbaugh and Keever have been married more than 20 years.

“We’ve talked for years about doing something together in business,” says Keever, who departed Florida Trend in April and is the new company’s vice president. “This seemed like the perfect time and the right opportunity to pool our talents to tackle this growing national problem.”

USAsset Management offers to handle maintenance issues on foreclosed and pre-foreclosure commercial real estate, including multifamily properties. Eshenbaugh says he has received numerous calls from banks seeking help with property management, and those bankers were receptive to his idea for the new firm.

“Many of them jumped at the chance to get out of property maintenance. It’s not their core business,” says Eshenbaugh, who will remain president of Tampa-based Eshenbaugh Land Co.

Eshenbaugh says it may take three to five years to dispose of the REO glut, by which time USAsset Management could be obsolete. When that happens, he says he will be ready to spend more time riding horses and fly fishing at the couple’s second home in Utah.

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