Unsuitable investments in Inland American Real Estate Trust and the Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust have become a growing source of concern for more investors these days. In many cases, sales of Inland REITs were appropriate from the start for some investors. Why? Because the broker/dealers behind the deals failed to disclose all of the necessary information associated with the products, including the high commissions that the REITs commanded. In some instances, those fees exceeded 15%.
The Inland REITs are considered unlisted REITs; they do not trade on national stock exchanges. Redemptions in unlisted REITs are limited and almost always have a minimum holding period. If investors want to exit an unlisted REIT entirely, they usually can only do so at specified times.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of unlisted REITs has to do with their lack of transparency. Unlisted REITs also typically come with no independent source of performance data. Moreover, critics of unlisted REITs cite the often vague prospectus language regarding their formal exit strategies.
In recent months, we’ve heard from several investors who say their broker/dealer never discussed the various risks that investors take on when they purchase shares of an unlisted REIT. In reviewing these complaints, we’ve also discovered that some investors were kept in the dark about the fact that their investment in an unlisted REIT could literally be tied up for an undetermined amount of time in the event the REIT suspends its share-repurchase program.
That’s exactly what happened with Inland American, which suspended its buyback program in March 2009. Investors had two options: Hold onto their shares until buybacks become re-instated or attempt to sell their share, at a significant loss, on the secondary market.
If you believe your broker/dealer failed to provide adequate information concerning investments in the Inland American Real Estate Trust, the Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust or another unlisted REIT, contact us.