NEW YORK , Mon Sep 10, 2012 – From the outskirts of Las Vegas to the coast of California, stretches of undeveloped land in some of the most depressed housing markets in the U.S. are in high demand.
Money managers such as BlackRock Inc, hedge fund Angelo Gordon & Co. and real estate investment firm Starwood Capital, are beginning to cash-in on so-called shovel-ready residential land-tracts with most of the pre-construction and zoning approvals already in place.
The investors snapped up land on the cheap in bankruptcy proceedings, from cash-strapped home developers and banks that seized the properties after foreclosing on them when builders ran out of money.
Now they are re-selling the land, often for returns of more than 20 percent on their initial investment, in the latest sign of a modest recovery in the U.S. housing market. Other investors, meanwhile, are looking to partner with homebuilders to develop the tracts.
Some, like Paulson & Co, which has also been active in the space, will hold onto the land for some time before re-selling it to buyers.
“We are coming out of the mother of all housing cycles, and residential land is the best way to play the ultimate recovery,” said Michael Barr, a Paulson & Co portfolio manager, who oversees the Paulson Real Estate Recovery fund, which has under $500 million in assets for the $19.5 billion hedge fund. “Land is the highest returning component of the home building equation.”