Conversions Are Low Hanging Fruit

Conversions Are Low Hanging Fruit TAMPA, FL - High density housing, just beginning to gain steam before the housing downturn hit, is poised to be one of a handful of straws that stirs the soup, according to many housing industry experts.

Addressing that trend is the purpose of the Seventh Annual National Multifamily Trends Conference, held each year in conjunction with PCBC, the West Coast's annual homebuilding conference and trade show.

The conference look first at the current state and future outlook for the U.S. economy and the multifamily sector, including what developers and investors can expect in the second half of this year and in 2010.

The conference is being produced in partnership with commercial RE giant Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services. Hessam Nadji, managing director of research services for the Encino-based firm and the MFT program coordinator, said the daylong conference has two main goals. "First, the conference will provide practical advice and expertise on the best ways to navigate the current market defensively, including attracting, qualifying and retaining renters, minimizing the downturn operationally and preserving value," he said.

"Secondly, we have focused a lot of the planning on making sure the speakers offer ideas on offensive strategies for multifamily investors and developers – in short, how to take advantage of the downturn and positioning for the recovery, including market selection and timing.

"We will also address many of the key questions that multifamily investors and developers are asking: When will employment turn positive and what will be the pace of growth in 2010, 2011? Will Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to provide financing? When will construction lending ease? And what is the outlook for distressed sales in 2009 and 2010 and to what extent will they impact overall values?"

Showing early interest in this trend is the newly formed Irvine, CA-based Sycamore Urban Properties, a firm specializing in acquiring and stabilizing new and converted condominium properties that have fallen into distress since the housing bubble burst.

The company recently made its first acquisition – a 41-unit, newly constructed townhome development in Rancho Cucamonga, CA – and is actively pursuing other properties as the multi-family housing market begins to thaw and become more active. Sycamore Urban purchased the note for the Rancho Cucamonga asset in September 2008 and successfully navigated through the bankruptcy process, taking title to the property via foreclosure in early March.

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