Behringer Harvard REIT I, which raised $2.9 billion from its 2003 launch to the end of its final offering in December 2008, has reduced its share value as of May 17 to $4.25, plus cut its annualized dividend rate to 1%, according to a regulatory filing. For countless investors, this revaluation has been a crushing blow financially.
Nontraded real estate investment trusts (REITs) are now capturing the attention of regulators, who want to know exactly what brokers did and did not disclose to investors about the products. In March 2009, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) officially opened an investigation into nontraded REITs with an examination of documentation and data from various brokers who sell the investments.
Among other things, FINRA’s focus is on whether the sales were suitable and whether the firms made misleading statements to investors regarding fees, dividends and liquidity.
As reported June 1 by Bloomberg, nontraded REITs often appeal to unsophisticated investors who may not understand the extent of risks that the products present. Those risks can include huge broker fees and commissions, unexpected share devaluation, dividend cuts and suspension of buyback programs.
Many investors with nontraded REITs have experienced significant financial losses because of the fraudulent representations made by their broker. Specifically, investors who’ve filed arbitration claims allege that the products were presented as low risk and that critical information was never disclosed.
Behringer Harvard REIT I and Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust are among a number of nontraded REITs that have reduced dividends to shareholders in the past year. Other firms such as Cole Credit Property Trust II, Hines Real Estate Investment Trust Inc. and Wells Real Estate Investment Trust II suspended or limited redemptions this year and in 2009.
Maddox Hargett & Caruso currently is investigating sales of nontraded REITs on behalf of investors. If you believe your broker/dealer or financial adviser misrepresented the facts concerning a nontraded REIT, please Contact Us.