Contract Re-Assignments: A Sign of the Times?

Posted by urbandigs

Tue Apr 29th, 2008 10:58 AM

A: For all you guys that want front line reporting. I just went through my first contract re-assignment closing for a buyer client of mine; so basically, a buyer goes into contract for a property but for whatever reason CAN NOT close on the deal. Likely culprit is inability to get financing. Instead of going through the headache of litigation over the down payment and who can claim it, the original buyer attempts to assign the contract to a new buyer. The positives for the new buyer include getting a deal that was in a previous pricing amendment or a unit that was in a sold out line. The negative is that the terms of the deal with the sponsor are non-negotiable and will be the same as the original deal; but that doesn't mean you can't work something out with the assigner on incentives for taking on the transaction!

contract-assignment-1.jpgLets go back 5 1/2 months when I published a post titled, "New Dev Closings: A Potential Problem?", where I stated in an unbiased discussion:

"I want to discuss something that has NOT happened, is not even in the very near term horizon, but very well may impact the Manhattan marketplace at some point in 2008; buyers with expected new development closings amidst the new credit world.

What happens to all those new development buyers that are currently in contract, waiting for building completion to close, if the jumbo credit markets continue to be in distress and there is a much different lending world than when the original contract was signed?

What if the buyer doesn't have the doc's to get the commitment, if lending/underwriting standards have tightened so much in the past 3-6 months? What if the buyer gets a much higher interest rate than was originally anticipated? What if the bonus doesn't come in as expected? What if they lose their job? What if the property becomes unaffordable?"
The post back in October is a great example of me discussing my true feelings on what could be on the horizon, that was not a trend yet, but due to the macro fundamentals that were building at the time seemed a likely result for our marketplace. Its all about being one step AHEAD OF THE CURVE!

Anyway, back to the assignment. What I discussed back in October is now reality; albeit a rare one at this point in time. There are actually a few other assignment requests in the same building that we just completed our deal for a few days ago. This was confirmed by the attorney who has done a number of deals in this building, and by this different ad in craigslist that I found this morning (all details, building, etc. were not included for privacy):

contract-assignment.jpg

In an environment of tighter underwriting standards & credit quality based lending rates, contract assignments become a very real option for those that can't secure financing due to the credit crunch. I would expect this trend to continue, especially for those financially borderline buyers & speculative investors who signed new development contracts of sale BEFORE the credit crisis began in July 2007. Quite simply, it was a different world back then.

Now this is very important, I do NOT view this as anything that will take down our market; and is likely to be more of a rising 'pockets of distress' trend since contract assignments occur in strong markets too. It is just another sign of the times and tells you that the world we live in today is quite different than the world that existed during the boom times. For my client, they got to purchase a desired unit that was part of a sold-out line as of many months ago in a nearly sold out desirable building; plus a minor incentive by the original buyer to take on the assignment.

Anyone else hearing about contract re-assignments in their neighborhood/building? I would be interested to see how widespread this trend is at this point in time.


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