Nontraded REITs Continue to Stockpile Cash

A firm established last year to look at nontraded REITs, Blue Vault Partners, LLC, has published its 2010 first quarter review, which RetailTraffic overviewed. Not surprisingly, nontraded REITs are expected to raise 17% more in 2010 than in 2009, or about $7 billion. Due to the quick and reasonable liquid access to real estate ownership with professional management, REITs have done very well this year. So well, in fact, an investor with who we are negotiating on a deal actually brought up that he could get over a 10% yield with a nontraded REIT.

But therein lies the problem - that's not sustainable. The fees and overhead costs of running multi-billion dollar REITs can be significant and these REITs don't tend to use a lot of leverage. As the report points out, the median yield is only about 6.5%, which makes sense in our experience. For deals we've seen this year, at least with the health care REITs, the yields being sought range anywhere from 7.5% to 10% or 11%. Once salaries, overhead, fees, etc. are tacked on, how many hundreds of basis points are eaten? The other issue with investing in a REIT is limited use of leverage. The REITs that are still raising money have effective leverage of only 30%, according to the report. The REITs closed for the year at least have a leverage ratio of nearly 60%, but only about a third of REITs are closed. Though the market got leverage-drunk and is learning many lessons, 30% is way to low to generate a +10% yield on most investments.