PHOENIX-Not too long ago, the typical real estate investor was highly speculative, buying a portfolio, holding onto it for a short time until the asset doubled or tripled in value, then selling it. However, experts tell that, in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, the real estate owner of the future will undergo a seismic shift from the buy-and-flip investor one that is knowledgeable about real estate and will stay with an asset for the long haul.

But between the past and future is the present. And in the present and near-term future, between the next 12 to 18 months, the landlords will be banks and special servicers. “In the interim, we’ll see the banking community or servicing community getting hold of a lot of these assets because of foreclosures,” explains Chris Toci with Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona Inc. Those interim owners, he goes on to say, will struggle in their unwilling roles as landlords, until they get an idea of what the asset might be worth.

Jonathan Larsen with Transwestern’s Los Angeles office agrees with Toci’s assessment, noting that financial institutions will hang on to their assets as long as they can, until values steady. During this time, he continues, third-party property managers will become in demand, providing service and advice to institutions that are finding themselves unwitting landlords.

Despite everything, Larsen believes banks and financial institutions will end up selling assets at a loss, with their reserves getting hit. “You have a game of musical chairs here, with the game ending, people having their chair pulled away and ending up stuck with a building worth less than what they paid for it,” Larsen comments. “They’ll have no other choice but to give it to the bank, but a prudent buyer isn’t going to pay what the bank might want.”

Toci agrees. “Ultimately those interim owners, these banks, will have to embrace the fact that value isn’t what it once was, and they’ll liquidate,” he comments. And when they’re ready to liquidate, both Toci and Larsen say the new owners stepping up to buy will be more experienced in dealing with real estate.

“The new owners will be highly opportunistic hedge funds, highly liquid funds and REITs,” Toci says. “It’ll largely be made from private equity, but we’re starting to see some of the life companies poking their heads out. If they can find good opportunities, they might execute.”

And some of those buyers could come from overseas. “I see future investors coming from Europe and China, and others coming back into the market for value-add opportunities,” Larsen says. The new breed of real estate asset ownership is also likely to hang onto things a little longer. “We could see some flipping,” Larsen says, “but I really don’t see this happening until the market recovers fully.”

Larsen remarks that prudent investors could end up doing well in the next 12 to 18 months, but to be taken seriously these investors need to be ready to go in and make a fair and reasonable offer. But be prepared, already having done due diligence on the price, he further advises. “Don’t just go in and say you want the property without doing the proper research,” he remarks.

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