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CEO Spotlight: Michael Nierenberg – Real Estate Investment Success After Bear Stearns

Real estate

Michael Nierenberg is a unique investment manager in both how he approaches investment and more importantly, how he views the future of the investment world. He is, fortunately, one of the investment managers who has worked with several different companies in the USA. The following is information detailing real estate investing:

A real estate investment trust (REIT) finances, operates or owns real property and mortgages in a number of different sectors. Because many REITs are publicly traded, owning shares allows investors to add real estate to their stock portfolios. According to Nareit, a worldwide organization of real estate investment trusts, REITs now control more than $3 trillion of real estate assets.

REIT “types” are often determined by the primary category of assets — five key examples are mortgages, office buildings, healthcare facilities, retail properties and residential real estate. While real estate investors can always choose to buy individual properties instead of REIT shares, historical REIT returns make this a decision requiring closer examination. As reported by Marc Prosser (Forbes, July 19, 2017, “Data Proves REITs Are Better Than Buying Real Estate”), REITs “have historically outperformed direct real estate investing and even the S&P 500.”

Residential Real Estate Mortgage REIT Choices

Two more important questions for real estate investors are the following:

  • Investing in mortgages or properties?
  • Invest in residential or commercial real estate?

One of the most specialized REIT investment opportunities features the combination of mortgages and residential properties. The residential real estate loan market has increased in both size and complexity during the past 20 years. As reported by the Federal Reserve System’s Board of Governors, the U.S. housing market represents about $25 trillion in estimated value — and approximately $10 trillion in single-family mortgage debt. Due to a credit crisis that peaked about a decade ago, the residential real estate lending industry has undergone significant changes in how mortgages are serviced and owned.

While finding desirable investment opportunities in residential mortgage loans might seem overwhelming for individual investors, the challenge becomes much more manageable by employing the structure of the management and advisory team within a specialized real estate investment trust. For example, new and complex financial concepts such as servicer advances, excess mortgage servicing rights, and mortgage securitization are now commonplace. One primary example of an REIT that was created to find undervalued residential real estate loans and other special investment opportunities in New Residential Investment Corp.

Modern luxury apartments buildings

REIT Specialization: MSRs, RMBS, Call Rights and Servicer Advances

As noted above, a property-oriented real estate investor can buy properties directly instead of buying REIT shares. However, for a mortgage-oriented investor, an REIT investment will typically be more practical and cost-effective.

One reason is the scale involved — securitized residential mortgages typically are sold only to pre-qualified buyers capable of investing millions (and often billions) of dollars on short notice. Another potential obstacle that precludes most individual investors from successfully securing and then managing undervalued residential mortgage loans is the time factor — the process of finding, buying and actively managing a loan portfolio is time-consuming and frequently requires a lengthy time frame until assets are sold.

To illustrate how specialized and complex it can be to invest in residential real estate financing vehicles, here are four of the key asset classes frequently included in the New Residential Investment Corp. portfolio:

  • Excess MSRs (Mortgage Servicing Rights)
  • RMBS (Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities)
  • Call Rights
  • Servicer Advances

An MSR is the right to service a mortgage loan pool (usually acquired in exchange for a fee). By most measures, banks currently own more than 70 percent of MSRs. This percentage is expected to decline in future years as banks find it necessary to improve capital reserve requirements, comply with regulatory changes and overcome new servicing challenges. By co-investing in MSRs, New Residential can acquire an “Excess MSR” (compensation that exceeds the normal fee for servicing) — this results in regular cash flow without accompanying liabilities or obligations.

RMBS are created when residential real estate loan pools are securitized (converted into marketable securities). It is estimated that about 70 percent of residential mortgages are securitized. Institutional investors are periodically forced to sell some of these assets at inopportune times. Especially for non-Agency RMBS situations, such forced sales often result in buying opportunities at attractive prices.

Call rights give the buyer a right (without the contractual obligation to do so) to buy a mortgage securitization vehicle at a specified price within a designated time period. Making this a profitable transaction typically requires a judicious combination of selectively retaining mortgages, selling performing loans for a profit, re-securitizing assets and acquiring designated tranches (specific underlying pieces of the debt) at a discount to par values.

A servicer advance is common in securitization processes. Such advances are usually provided as non-interest bearing loans from a servicer to cover circumstances that include missed homeowner payments until a loan is re-performing. The advances improve liquidity, are considered to represent a high credit quality and enhance cash flow and yields.

modern apartment houses

About New Residential Investment Corp. — Specialized Residential Real Estate Assets

New Residential is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol “NRZ”) and operates as a qualified REIT. Michael Nierenberg is President, CEO and Board Chairman of New Residential. The company is based in New York and focuses on opportunistic residential real estate investments such as excess mortgage servicing rights and servicer advances.

Michael Nierenberg’s View on Success in Real Estate Investment

Mike Nierenberg believes that experiencing different markets has helped him in redefining what success is, in investment. The following are some of the ways his experience has changed his approach and view on investment.

First, he points out that working with different companies have made him appreciate the value of teamwork. Teamwork, according to Mike Nierenberg, is arguably one of the most ignored aspects of most management firms. However, according to him, it is only through teamwork that companies can capitalize on different changes in the word of money.

He has therefore mastered the art of working with other talents, all with the aim of pushing the companies’ agenda. In addition, working in terms has also given him a chance to mentor young talents especially in his managerial positions.  Mike Nierenberg is a mentor to tens of managers in the real estate business.

Second, his experience in the world of real estate and investment, in general, has helped him to understand the value of productivity. Productivity according to Mike Nierenberg is important in the following two ways. First, it helps the company in saving resources. Operations in real estate and investment take a considerable part of the profits. Therefore, having a workforce that gives value for money is important.

It is through productivity that individuals can grow professionally. Through his management roles, he is a major advocate for the productive workforce because productivity creates a win-win situation for both employees and the investment company.

Lastly, Mike Nierenberg has mastered the art of diversity. Diversity according to him is important since apart from helping the company get more profits from different sectors, it is also one of the ways to minimize losses. This understanding has helped him be the diversification agent in all the companies he has worked within New York

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the CEOWORLD magazine.

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Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller is CEOWORLD magazine's executive editor of news, writing analysis, and long-form reporting. In his role, he coordinates and tracks the publication of special packages, magazine stories, and the publication’s signature lists. He's a somewhat long-suffering supporter of Manchester United F.C. and a genuinely long-suffering fan of the Los Angeles Clippers.