Thursday, September 3, 2009

Buffett Gets Deeper Into Housing and Real Estate (BRK-A, LUK, GS, CIT, HD, LOW, USG)

From 24/7 Wall Street:
Warren Buffett is positioning Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) to profit when the housing and property market returns to more normal levels. Now, he is teaming up with what many investors consider a “Buffett rival.” Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) is teaming up with Leucadia National Corp. (NYSE: LUK) to acquire the North American mortgage and servicing operations of Capmark Financial Group Inc. Interestingly enough, a company affiliated with Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway called HomeServices of America made a real estate firm acquisition in Chicago earlier this week.

The Capmark deal is said to be valued at roughly $490 million. Some may question this, but many believe a return is taking shape of at least some normalcy in the housing market. Capmark is said to be looking for a debt restructuring and also looking at options for its business holdings as it has discussed bankruptcy protection as a possibility. Bloomberg has made a reminder that Capmark is owned by firms including KKR & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS). Bloomberg reminded readers that Buffett agreed to buy a portfolio of loans on factory-built homes from CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT) in 2008.

In the Koenig & Strey deal, that firm will retain its name and become a franchisee within Brookfield Residential Property Services’ North American real estate network of almost 30,000 real estate professionals. Koenig & Strey has approximately 900 agents located in 21 offices serving Chicago and the surrounding area. Its sales were $2.6 billion in 2008. The acquisition is the 21st for HomeServices, and it now has more than 15,000 real estate professionals and 21 companies operating in 20 states....MORE