Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mystery bidder gets 275 homes -

A few days ago, 275 foreclosure houses across metro Phoenix were purchased through a very quiet

$34 million cash deal. But it's not clear yet who the buyer is.

In February, Fannie Mae announced it would auction 2,490 foreclosure homes in Phoenix, Atlanta, Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. It was the first time the government-owned mortgage firm agreed to openly sell groups of foreclosure houses located in just one metro area. Since the crash, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac usually have sold homes they get back from lenders one by one, or in bulk with houses located all over the country.

Several buyers were interested in the Phoenix houses Fannie Mae was selling. Originally, 341 in the region were to be sold to one buyer, according to the federal government.

The sale of the Fannie Mae foreclosure homes became apparent to data guru Tom Ruff of AZBidder on Wednesday night, when he tracked metro Phoenix's REO inventory -- homes taken back by banks that haven't been resold -- and realized it had dropped by 5 percent.

In the latest sales filings, he discovered that a group called SFR 2012-1 US West LLC, located at 135 N. Los Robles Ave., fourth floor, in Pasadena, Calif., purchased 275 foreclosure homes from Fannie Mae that day. Each deal was individually recorded. Fannie Mae's Dallas office is listed as the seller.

More research shows the buyer is an LLC created by Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae declined to comment. But a source close to the deal said Fannie Mae is transferring the properties to an LLC that the winning buyer will invest in through a private placement deal.

That means the actual sales of these homes may not be recorded in Arizona.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie Mae's overseer, announced earlier this month that winning bidders in the foreclosure auction had been chosen, with transactions expected to close early in the third quarter. But it didn't release names.

Before February, to get 10 foreclosure homes in Phoenix, an investor might have gotten a bundle of 30 in Detroit, five in Kansas City, two in Los Angeles and one in Boise, Idaho. Most of those are not foreclosure hot spots like Phoenix.

Now that foreclosures have slowed and metro Phoenix's median home price has climbed more than 30 percent in the past year, fewer deals are available for investors. To get 275 foreclosure homes without having to individually bid on each would be a coup if the houses are priced right.

Here are few examples of the 275 Fannie Mae foreclosure houses that sold individually on Wednesday: $265,000 for a Queen Creek house; $78,000 for a Scottsdale condominium; $59,000 for an El Mirage house; and $458,000 for a Peoria house.

Most of the 275 homes are leased.

The way the sales are being handled could be problematic for the Valley's housing market because the deals could be used as comps, and its not clear yet what the winning investor will actually pay for the houses. Ruff is pulling the sales from his data so they don't skew the area's median home price.

by Catherine Reagor USA Today Jul 28, 2012

Mystery bidder gets 275 homes -

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