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JRF defends property pricing as market-based

Published:Sunday | April 8, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Chief Executive Officer of Jamaican Redevelopment Foundation Inc, Jason Rudd. - File

Avia Collinder, Business Writer

Pushing back at suggestions that top sellers of property are pricing assets out of the market's reach, Jason Rudd the CEO of Jamaican Redevelopment Foundation Inc, said his listings are based on current valuations.

JRF has some 281 properties listed for sale — assets that were previously the security for loans that went sour in the financial meltdown.

Listings on the company's website include 103 hectares of land in Hopewell, Hanover priced at US$3.57 million (J$312 million) - or US$34,660 (J$3.03m) per hectare - as well as several commercial properties in downtown Kingston being disposed of under the power of sale contained in a mortgage.

In St Ann where there JRF has 29 properties for sale, the portfolio includes several upscale homes on Cardiff Hall Plantation including Lot 741 Ricketts Drive, with seven bedrooms and five bathrooms. The list price for this property is US$540,000 (J$47 million).

"The prices listed on our website are market prices. These prices are based on independent valuations, site inspections and other criteria, but our prices are not tied, in any way, to the underlying debt that was, or is, associated with the property," Rudd says.

"Our real estate department is very experienced and very much in tune with the market conditions in Jamaica, and I believe them to be more knowledgeable about the value and marketability of the property listed on our website than anyone else in Jamaica."

281 properties available

New Kingston-based JRF indicated in March that some 281 properties listed on its website for sale are still available to buyers.

JRF came into possession of those and other properties in 2002 as the vehicle used by Beal Bank of Texas to acquire the bad debt portfolio of FINSAC from the Jamaican Government. FINSAC took over the properties as part of the bailout of financial institutions in the 1990s meltdown.

JRF indicated that 1,648 of the accounts were active up to June 2011, representing indebtedness on principal loans of US$145 million. However the full value of the portfolio was not disclosed.

JRF markets the properties through its website and intermittent advertisements, but it also uses the services of asset recovery companies such as Business Recovery Services Limited to seek out buyers.

Properties are being sold 'as is where is' by the New Kingston-based company itself with financing of 60 per cent of sale value offered to prospective buyers. A 30 per cent deposit is required.

All transactions will be in US dollars the JRF indicates and monthly payments are required for sales for which financing is secured. Prices listed on the website are subject to change without notice.

The 281 properties include numerous resort apartment units on the north coast and commercial properties in Kingston and St Andrew with farming and development property available for sale right across the island.

The company on its website describes itself as the possessor of the "largest portfolio of distressed debt sold by the Jamaican Government as part of the reconstruction of the Jamaican finance sector" and "one of the largest holders of real estate in the country of Jamaica."

In Kingston and St Andrew there are a total 83 listings, spread out uptown, downtown and in the New Kingston — notably seven one-bedroom units in the Dorchester complex on Oxford Road with listed price point around US$120,000 each. The apartments have been on the market for years, garnering limited interest despite their location in the hot-selling New Kingston area.

St Catherine has 37 properties listed, and St James 25. Sale is in progress for Holiday Village, part of Ironshore estate on the outskirts of Montego Bay, which had an asking price of US$1.1 million (J$96m).