Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Has Real Estate Hit a Bottom

For an asset class that everyone seems to hate, there sure seems to be a lot of money around to buy real estate:

By Megan Davies

NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) - Private equity and real estate firm Blackstone Group (BX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Tuesday it raised $10.9 billion to invest in real estate, and said there should be attractive investment opportunities ahead.

Blackstone said it had raised a total of nine real estate funds with total capital commitments of $25.7 billion. The fund it just closed is called Blackstone Real Estate Partners VI.

There also seems to be a lot of people just waiting to pounce on foreclosures:

Duluth lender plans 'foreclosure tour'

Real Estate Road Trips Scout Troubled Market
Foreclosure Tours Show Vacant Properties and Provide Advice

Foreclosure tours take off

Builders are doing what they need to do to get rid of inventory:

Homebuilder DR Horton tried to kill two birds with one stone this past weekend: unloading inventory and cleaning up the image of the housing market -- at least in a few towns in Southern California.

The company held what it called an “Un-Auction”: first-come, first-served home sales, with would-be bidders lining up overnight and for days on end, a la the fans who wait for concert and cult-movie tickets.

But as CNBC’s Jane Wells reported, these patient consumers toughed it out on line to get a shot at 30 percent discounts on new houses. One shopper was able to save some $130,000 on a new condominium. And DR Horton was able to sidestep the “messy fallout” of a standard auction.

The point is that it appears that there are buyers out there - at the right price. And prices are apparently reaching the point where buyers are willing to step up. Builders are more likely than individuals to cut prices though so it may take longer in the existing home market.

I think all we really need for the economy to start recovering is for real estate to stop being a drag on growth - and that may be closer than the pessimists think.

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