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(This story, in slightly different form, originally appeared in ALM’s Daily Business Review.)

MIAMI-Developers Aslan Palachi and Michael Baumann slashed condo prices at their 1800 Club Downtown early this year but realized lowering prices was not enough to attract buyers. They would have to help condo buyers finance their deals.

Investor Thomas Daly knew that to sell the scores of New Harbour House condo units he had purchased in bulk, he too would have to help buyers get loans. And Swire Properties had buyers for units at Asia on Brickell Key, but finding loans with favorable terms for million-dollar-plus condos was very difficult.

The solution: Finance the deals through an affiliated construction lender. In a tough economic environment and with conventional financing hard to find, these developers are turning to their construction lenders to get loans for buyers at their condo projects.

“Providing financing through the developer or the construction lender has become a necessity,” says Miami attorney Howard Vogel, a partner with Berman Rennert Vogel & Mandler. He represents developers and construction lenders and is the closing agent for Palachi and Baumann’s 1800 Club in Miami.

Since the credit markets seized up over a year ago, lenders have been reluctant to finance condo deals, especially in buildings filled with units that haven’t sold or are in foreclosure. The few buyers in the market able to pay cash can bargain down prices, further depressing the market.

Hoping to fuel sales while maintaining values, some condo developers are filling the void left by traditional lenders. Palachi says sales picked up significantly after he began offering financing in mid-June. At least 15 condos in the 1800 Club have sold with seller financing, according to Miami-Dade County property records.

Palachi’s construction lender, Washington, DC-based Union Labor Life Insurance, provided Kunal Nanavati and his wife, Patel Neepa, a $288,000 mortgage loan to buy an 1800 club condo for $360,000, according to property records. Nanavati and Neepa did not return calls seeking comment.

“This is definitely a great help,” Palachi said. “At least it doubled the amount of units that we have been able to sell.”

Still, Palachi’s project has 89 units remaining with prices ranging from $180,000 to $615,000. Palachi and Baumann completed the 469-unit 1800 Club in 2005, at the peak of the housing market.

Daly, a principal with HH Condo Investments in Hollywood, financed the sale of at least 30 condo units of 40 units sold at New Harbour House since March, according to public records. “It’s been a great asset and has worked very well for us,” says Christina Cuervo, vice president of HH Condo and a former executive with condo developer Related Group. Cuervo would not disclose the source of Daly’s financing for the individual purchases.

Daly paid $27 million for 101 units in the Bal Harbour project in December. The seller was an affiliate of the Related Group. Daly, who has been an investor in the Related Group, financed the deal in part with a $7.3-million loan from the seller.

Hong Kong-based Swire Properties began offering its own financing to buyers of condos at Asia in June, says Maile Aguila, who handles sales for the company. Five sales have closed using Swire financing, she said. Condo prices at Asia range from $1.1 million to about $3 million, Aguile says.

Swire Pacific, the construction lender and parent company of Swire Properties, recently provided Martha Beatriz Gadda de Riccheri and Natalia Cecilia Real a mortgage loan for $931,000 to buy a condo for $1.33 million, according to public records. Gadda de Riccheri and Real could not be reached for comment.

Asia, with 123 condos, was completed in early 2008 just as the financial markets began to a collapse. Swire has sold at least 73 condos since closings began in March 2008, according to property records.

Aguila says Swire’s in-house financing has helped land buyers who wanted to deal but couldn’t get loans. “It actually turned out to be quite good,” she says. “It helped stimulate some buyers who were in between fences because they were struggling to get financing elsewhere.”

Real estate experts applaud the effort: “In the environment that we are in, [seller financing] provides a tremendous advantage to developers,” Miami real estate consultant Lewis Goodkin says.

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