Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Audio – Subprime market or fraternity party? Lender thinks the latter


A subprime lender told the Reuters Global Real Estate Summit that the market’s meltdown is a healthy thing.

The industry that emerges from the wreckage will have weeded out lenders with insufficiently rigorous underwriting standards, Novelle Financial Services Inc. Chief Executive Mallory Hill said.

Click here to hear Hill comparing reckless subprime lenders to frat boys on a bender.


Audio – Cycling down


land.jpgLand Securities CEO Francis Salway says he thinks the poor share price performance at his real estate investment trust (REIT) this year is the result of the sector coming of a 4-5 year run, and increasing interest rates.

Salway spoke to reporters at the London arm of the Reuters Real Estate Summit.

Land Securities converted to REIT status at the beginning of this year.

Audio – “Even my granny could have made money”


brixton.jpgBrixton CEO Tim Wheeler talks about how the man on the street is flooding into UK commercial property in recent years, creating a danger to the credibility of the market.

“Even my granny would have made money if she bought every single bit of property that was available over the last five years, because of the weight of money coming in forced yields down and forced prices up,” he told the Reuters Real Estate Summit. “Thats about to change.”

Audio – Retailers take note: Housing slide may dent holiday cheer


zandi.jpgMass-market retailers putting together their orders for the holiday season might want to prepare for the worst. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s, said home price weakness may well worsen in the autumn, hurting consumer sentiment and retail demand heading into the end of the year. “I think retailing will be very, very soft, particularly for lower, middle-income households,” he told the Reuters Global Real Estate Summit in New York. However, luxury retailers should do fine as the well-off will be relatively unscathed by a housing downturn, Zandi said.

Audio – Moody’s economist on most vulnerable home owners


Mark Zandi     
Home owners in the low- and middle-income brackets are most vulnerable in the U.S. housing slump. Click here to hear Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi’s thoughts on the problems these people face with their adjustable-rate mortgages
Affordability is now eroding because of higher interest rates and more restrictive lending standards following the subprime market meltdown, Zandi said at the Reuters Global Real Estate Summit.

A Mini with every house!?!? … I’ll take the ‘fridge instead.


Mini Cooper CabrioletHovnanian Enterprises, like many homebuilders, has turned to discounts and freebies to entice buyers in a slumping U.S. housing market.

Last year, one such offer was a free trendy Mini Cooper car with the purchase of a house in three markets in Florida, Chief Financial Officer Larry Sorsby explained at the Reuters Global Real Estate Summit.

Audio – Bank of America ponders new refi product



Floyd RobinsonBank of America is trying to repeat the early success it has seen with its no-fee mortgage product in the home refinancing market. 

Floyd Robinson, president of the banks consumer real estate and insurance services group, told the Reuters Global Real Estate Summit that the bank is now setting its sights on the refinancing industry. The bank is doing market testing and the aim is clear: To shake-up the refinancing market. Listen here for Robinson’s comments on the bank’s vision for both products

Audio – Homebuilder CFO on Florida deal’s awful timing


sorsby.jpgIt’s not often that a top executive acknowledges that his company did a deal at the worst possible moment. But such rare candor was evident when Larry Sorsby, the chief financial officer of Hovnanian Enterprises, was asked at Monday’s Reuters Global Real Estate Summit about a costly move the company made into the market in Fort Myers-Cape Coral area of Florida in August 2005. “We were in the perfect timing in terms of ‘how not to do it’ because we bought in at the peak in a market that instantly collapsed upon our acquisition,” he said.

The deal was Red Bank, New Jersey-based Hovnanian’s purchase of First Home Builders, a privately owned homebuilder that was the biggest in that part of Florida, for which it paid an undisclosed sum.

Audio – Collapse unlikely in UK commercial property market – IPD


cranes.jpgGrowth is slowing in the UK commercial property market, but it’s still set to deliver double-digit percentage returns this year, the index compiler Investment Property Databank said Monday.

“Total returns could be in the 10-12 percent bracket, or could conceivably nip into the low teens, said Ian Cullen, IPD’s co-founder, adding he’d be surprised to see it go down into the single digits.

AUDIO-RREEF earmarks 30 pct of future funds for Asia


roeloffs-pic.jpgRREEF, Deutsche Bank’s property investment arm and one of the world’s biggest property fund managers, plans to allocate around 30 percent of the private equity funds it raises in the future to Asia. Here, Kurt Roeloffs, RREEF’s chief executive for the Asia Pacific region, talks about two of his favourite Asian markets at the moment — Japan and India. He’s also moving from New York to Singapore in the very near future (possibly adding to the rising rents for luxury apartments in the island-state?)