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Category Archives: Cornerstone Core Property

Non-Traded REITs: A Darker Side Can Loom Large

An April 1 article by Investment News offers insight into the potential downside of non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs).  Shortly after investor Susan Fox, 63, bought a non-traded REIT – Inland American Real Estate Trust – for her IRA from her broker, it began to decline in value. Her broker, however, dismissed the losses and went on to sell her a second non-traded REIT.

The second REIT, Cornerstone Core Properties REIT, also is tanking in value. In March 2012, the Cornerstone REIT had fallen more than 70% in value – to $2.25 per share, from $8.

Adding to Fox’s financial woes is the fact that the REITs are part of her IRA, which in 2008 had $105,000 in it. The REITs accounted for $56,616 of her account, or almost 54%, according to the Investment News article.

In July 2010, she instructed her broker to sell her non-traded REITs but learned she was unable to do so. That’s because non-traded REITs have specific redemption policies; in most cases, money in non-traded REITs is tied up for seven or more years.

Fox’s dilemma strikes a familiar and painful chord with many non-traded REIT investors.  Non-traded REITs can be highly risky. Because they do not trade on a national stock exchange, non-traded REITs are considered illiquid investments – a fact that many investors, including Fox, are often unaware of until it’s too late.

Non-traded REITs also lack transparency, have limited and lengthy redemption periods, and come with exceptionally high commissions and other upfront fees and charges.

Another potential downside of non-traded REITs concerns dividends, which are not guaranteed to investors and can be halted at any time. In the past year, a growing number of non-traded REITs have either suspended their dividends or stopped them altogether. Among them: Behringer Harvard REIT I, Cole Credit Property Trust, Hines REIT and Apple REITs.

Pacific Cornerstone REIT Sees Major Drop in Value

Investors of non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) have taken a financial beating over the past year, and now another non-traded REIT – Cornerstone Core Properties REIT – joins a growing list of REITs to face an unexpected decline in value.

As reported March 28 by Investment News, the Cornerstone REIT has fallen in value by more than 70%. Investors in the non-traded REIT were informed earlier this month via a letter from the REIT’s chairman that shares of Cornerstone, once priced at $8, are now worth $2.25.

“The estimated per-share value has been adversely affected by the recent global economic downturn, negatively impacting our small business tenant base, which has resulted in approximately $43 million of previously announced impairment charges recorded in the second and third quarters of 2011,” according to the letter.

The Cornerstone REIT isn’t the only non-traded REITs facing issues. Investors in Behringer Harvard Short-Term Opportunity Fund I LP saw their investment’s value fall to 40 cents a share in December 2011, down from $6.48 a share just one year earlier.

The Behringer Harvard Opportunity REIT I also has experienced major declines in its valuation. As of December 2011, the REIT was valued at $4.12 a share, compared to $7.66 a year ago.

Cornerstone, Other Non-Traded REITs Haunt Investors

Their names may be different – Cornerstone Core Property, Inland American, Inland Western and Behringer Harvard REIT I – but these non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) have produced similar financial woes for their investors.

Non-traded REITs can be tricky investments. The products do not trade on national stock exchanges. Redemptions in them are limited at best; most non-traded REITs entail a lengthy holding period – in some instances, up to eight years.

The biggest fault concerning non-traded REITs is one of transparency. Non-traded REITs generally provide no independent source of performance data for investors. Instead, investors must rely on the broker/dealer responsible for pitching and selling the the investment.

And therein lies the problem.

In recent months, numerous complaints have come to light concerning non-traded REITs and, specifically, the broker/dealers behind the deals. Investors allege that they were never given complete details about their investment, as well as the many risks associated with non-traded REITs in general.

The lack of disclosure may have something to do with the high commissions and fees that broker/dealers take in from sales of non-traded REIT shares. In many cases, these fees are 15% or more.

This year, many investors in non-traded REITs have had to face a harsh reality. Instead of getting the stability, liquidity and a reliable source of income they were initially promised by their broker/dealers, they received dividend cuts and elimination of shareholder redemption programs.

Earlier this year, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) began to take a keen interest in non-traded REITs by conducting a sweep of the promotion practices and sales of broker/dealers associated with the products.

Maddox Hargett & Caruso currently is investigating sales of non-traded REITs, including Cornerstone, Inland American, Inland Western and Behringer Harvard. If you’ve suffered financial losses of $100,000 or more in a non-traded REIT and believe those losses are the result of inadequate information on the part of your broker/dealer, please Contact Us.


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