21 January 2010

Boomers see retirement later, less likely

Wed, Jan 20 2010
By Helen Chernikoff

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - People just starting to consider retirement are less optimistic about their ability to stop working than older people, but many still want to move when they reach traditional retirement age, according to a survey commissioned by homebuilder Pulte Homes Inc.

Of those who turn 50 this year, 41 percent say they will never be financially capable of retiring and 23 percent have not even started to save, Pulte revealed at the International Builders' Show, homebuilding's annual industry event, held here this week.
The study compared attitudes toward retirement by older and younger baby boomers, the massive age cohort born between 1946 and 1964 whose sheer size makes it a prize demographic across industries.

Pulte's Del Webb subsidiary, which builds amenity-heavy communities featuring golf courses and swimming pools for the market aged 55 or older, is homebuilding's biggest "active adult" business with operations in 21 states.

Along with luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc, Del Webb is one of only two nationally known homebuilding brands, Pulte Chief Executive Richard Dugas has said.

Del Webb was about half of Pulte's business until it acquired rival Centex Corp in 2009. Now the combined company's business is about a third Del Webb, a third first-time home buyer and a third first-time move-up buyer, said spokeswoman Caryn Klebba.

Pulte's own decision to diversify away from Del Webb by buying Centex demonstrates the active adult category is a tough business, said UBS analyst David Goldberg.

But the company, the largest homebuilder in the United States since the Centex acquisition, has confidence in Del Webb's future, despite the relative pessimism expressed in its survey by younger boomers, said spokeswoman Caryn Klebba.

There are 78 million baby boomers, more than enough to give Del Webb long-term viability, she said. Del Webb, which opened its doors in 1960, has sold 170,000 homes in its 50 years of operation.

Also, between 30 percent and 40 percent of younger boomers still plan to move when they retire, despite financial worries, according to the survey.

Of those planning to move, about 50 percent plan to move to a different state and about 25 percent plan to move to a different city.

"There's no doubt there's a very large percentage of the population that's aging that would like the lifestyle choices that Del Webb offers. It is a good business over the long term from a demand perspective," Goldberg said.

Still, the study reveals deep financial concerns on the part of potential Del Webb buyers who are turning 50 in 2010. Even those who do plan to retire say they will do so later, at a median age of 67 compared with 63 for the older survey respondents.
The older group surveyed is more optimistic about its retirement prospects, however. Only 15 percent say they will never be able to retire. Also, about a third of the older baby boomers say they will be financially prepared for retirement, while only 16 percent of the younger group say they feel that way.

Del Webb can adapt its product to changes in the active adult market's financial profile, Klebba said.

The company has made its homes smaller to enhance their affordability, for example. It has modified Del Webb floor plans to accommodate the more widespread desire for home offices among older buyers who are still working. And it is building more in North and South Carolina, which cost less than the traditional warm-weather retirement destinations, Klebba said.

HarrisInteractive conducted the online survey, consisting of a representative sample of 504 people turning 50 and 510 turning 64 with a sampling error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, in late 2009.

© Thomson Reuters 2009

Homebuilders Turn to Private Equity as Bank Lending Dries Up

Homebuilders Turn to Private Equity as Bank Lending Dries Up
By John Gittelsohn

Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- More than 40 U.S. homebuilders have teamed up with private equity firms to acquire and complete unfinished subdivisions as banks cut construction lending.

The investments will pay off for the builders and their investors if the prices are low enough and the locations are in areas where demand is recovering, said Megan McGrath, a home building industry analyst at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York.

“I’ve been getting the question: Why aren’t housing starts at zero?” McGrath asked. “The answer is, they’re probably as close to zero as they’re going to get and in some cases it still makes sense to build.”

Managers of at least 22 funds raised $12 billion in 2009 for development projects and other residential real estate deals, Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine reports in its Feb. 1 issue, citing data compiled by Bloomberg, Institutional Real Estate Inc. of San Ramon, California, and Real Estate Alert, an industry newsletter in Hoboken, New Jersey. Those firms have invested with at least 42 builders, the data show.

Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., the nation’s seventh-largest homebuilder by revenue, last year announced joint ventures with two New York-based private equity firms, in which the investors provided at least 80 percent of the money for the developments. GoldenTree Asset Management and Hovnanian are working on 11 projects around Chicago and Palm Beach, Florida, while Angelo Gordon & Co., with $21 billion under management, teamed up for other projects in Florida.

“For every one that we’re doing business with, there are 10 more that we’re talking to,” Ara K. Hovnanian, chief executive officer of the Red Bank, New Jersey, homebuilder, said at a Nov. 17 conference in New York organized by UBS AG.

Building Permits

Home building permits climbed to 653,000 in December, the most since October 2008 and a sign of optimism about demand, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.

The private equity firms are a new source of funding for the homebuilding industry, which has traditionally relied on bank loans and bond sales. Banks slashed lending to homebuilders because regulators pressured them to reduce real estate assets as defaults on construction loans climbed, said Robert Seiwert, vice president of the American Bankers Association.

“What got us into this situation was people making loans that shouldn’t have happened,” Seiwert said in a telephone interview from the organization’s headquarters in Washington.

Outstanding bank loans for land and new development sank to $113 billion in the quarter ending Sept. 30, down 44 percent from a peak of $203 billion in June 2008, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. Loans for all construction and development fell to $492.2 billion from a peak of $629.5 billion in June 2008, the FDIC said Nov. 24.

Housing Supply

The supply of new homes on the market rose to 7.9 months in November, compared with the five-year average of 7.2 months, according to the Commerce Department. With unemployment and foreclosures still at quarter-century highs, demand could remain weak for a while, especially with federal tax incentives for home buyers set to phase out in April.

Confidence among homebuilders fell this month to the lowest level since June, as traffic hit a 10-month nadir, the National Association of Home Builders said Jan. 19.

U.S. sales of new homes fell to an annual pace of 355,000 in November, down 11 percent from October, the Commerce Department reported Dec. 23. Homebuilders have seen orders and revenue decline since 2005, when 1.28 million new homes sold, according to the Census Bureau.

Picky Investments

Grosvenor Investment Management of Philadelphia and KeyBank Real Estate Capital Residential Investment Partners, which raised $100 million in 2007, took almost two years to make their first investment, said John Hay, manager of the fund for KeyBank Real Estate Capital Markets, a private equity unit of Cleveland- based KeyBank NA.

The managers wanted to buy ready-to-build lots for about 20 cents on the dollar. They wouldn’t invest in markets such as Las Vegas, South Florida, or Southern California. So far, the fund has entered five deals totaling about $30 million each for subdivisions outside Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

“This investing, while it’s ahead of the game, is still very, very challenging,” Hay said.

Reuben S. Leibowitz, managing director of JEN Partners LLC, a New York-based private equity fund, said he invested $50 million in 2009 for land and construction partnerships in Southern California and Arizona, where he believes the buyers are coming back.

Cater to Retirees

In May, Leibowitz bought Canta Mia, a 600-home “active- adult” community outside of Phoenix that caters to retirees. The original developer, Tousa Inc., filed for bankruptcy and Leibowitz acquired the project -- complete with model homes -- for less than the cost of improvements, such as roads and waterlines. He expects to get his money back in four to seven years, although he doesn’t think there are many other good deals out there. “There won’t be many people who are successful” at bottom-fishing in this market, he said.

At least one private equity fund has pulled up stakes. Rockpoint Group, a Boston investment firm, raised $470 million for a residential real estate fund from investors including a $270 million commitment from the California State Teachers Retirement System. In August, Rockpoint suspended the fund, returning the money to investors, after it failed to find enough workable deals.

18 January 2010

Community "Back in Business"

A "community" that was left half-finished by a cash-starved developer is now "back in business."

Since when are real communities "businesses"?


Community west of Delray Beach back in business
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Folks in the Tivoli Isles community west of Delray Beach have been living with unfinished homes and a clubhouse that was only 85 percent complete since 2008 when construction halted.

But building has begun again after the purchase of the unsold homes and clubhouse by New Jersey-based K. Hovnanian developers, which will begin selling inventory and new homes under construction in January.

Of 315 homes in the active-adult community east of U.S. 441 and north of Atlantic Avenue, 155 them are occupied by owners and 32 are in various stages of construction. That leaves 128 lots for new homes.

The 6,000-square-foot clubhouse is expected to be finished by February.

"We are pretty popular with the homeowners right now," said Mark Hodges, Southeast Florida division president for K. Hovnanian. "They care deeply about their community."

The community also will get a new name, Four Seasons at Delray Beach.

K. Hovnanian purchased the development's mortgage note from BankAtlantic after a foreclosure judgment against Home Devco Tivoli Isles LLC. Hodges said the amount of the purchase is sealed under a confidentiality agreement until K. Hovnanian takes official title to the property, which will happen by the end of the year.

Home Devco, which had a $54 million loan for the development, started selling homes in late 2005 in the mid $300,000s up to $800,000.

Hodges said the homes sold well until 2007 when the market turned sour. Sales were suspended in 2008. K. Hovnanian's pricing will begin in the $200,000s.

"We see the market returning," Hodges said. "If we aren't absolutely at the bottom, we're near it."

Hodges said to look for K. Hovnanian to buy more sites in the near future.

"We are acting absolutely bullish," Hodges said. "Land values have found their way back to bring affordable housing to the market again."


A new senior-living community is planned for the Abacoa neighborhood of Jupiter after the $3.9 million purchase of a 7-acre site by Divosta Homes LLP.

Construction on the 140-unit, three-story development is expected to begin in summer 2010, with the first units available the following year.

The development, which will include studio, one- and two- bedroom residences, will be at the intersection of Indian Creek Parkway and Central Boulevard.

It will be operated by Hallmark Senior Housing.

For more information on the Allegro at Abacoa, go to www.theallegro.com.


Short sales litter the distressed real estate market but are still uncommon on Palm Beach.

Island residents, however, are not immune to financial woe, and Realtor Gary Pohrer of Fite Shavell and Associates recently closed a short sale on a Palm Beach home at 237 Seabreeze.

Realtor Paul Schafranick with Frank Lanosa Realty represented the buyers in the deal.

The 237 Seabreeze property is between South County Road and Cocoanut Row, and originally was listed at $5.5 million.

The home is newly built, with construction finishing in January.

County records show that former owner Lauro Bianda took out a $3.7 million loan on the property in 2007 with Wachovia Mortgage Corp. Wachovia filed a notice of foreclosure on the property in August.

Pohrer said he hired an attorney with his own money to negotiate the short sale.

"I had spent so much time on the property, I wanted to see it through," he said.

Pohrer said slightly more than $4 million was owed on the home. It sold for $3.95 million.

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