REITs continue buying binge, with smaller deals on the rise

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Jeff Binder, managing director Senior Living Investment Brokerage
Jeff Binder, managing director Senior Living Investment Brokerage
Despite the slow creep back toward traditional bank financing, real estate investment trusts (REITS) continued their buying sprees this fall.

Grub & Ellis Healthcare REIT II agreed to acquire the Southeastern Skilled Nursing Facility Portfolio for $166.5 million, which includes 10 SNFs in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee. It also bought Lafayette Physical Rehabilitation Hospital in Louisiana for $12.1 million. Ventas has secured a $2 billion revolving credit line.

REITs can become interested in smaller deals, too — if they're deemed to be the “right” properties.

Sabra Health Care REIT Inc. closed on an $18 million cash deal to Aurora Health Management for two rehabilitation centers in Connecticut and Maryland in October. LTC Properties, meanwhile, snatched up a 156-bed California SNF for $17.5 million in November.

Jeff Binder, managing director for Senior Living Investment Brokerage in St. Louis, said that even smaller operators who have looked at traditional financing sometimes find a REIT a better option, especially if the relationship with the REIT already existed.

“We've worked on some transactions where buyers were going to do traditional financing and Health Care REIT came in with such a nice option, they went with them,” he said. “Even larger REITs will sometimes do a one-off. It's really about relationships.”

Still, most REITs have “their pick of the litter,” Binder said. It's a good time to sell if an operator has a property that's under a decade old, with a good track record both financially and on the resident care side, he noted.

“The ‘have-nots' are the properties that are too small or too old or too distressed,” he pointed out. “The more checkmarks there are, the less likely the operator can sell or refinance.”
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