Investing in Strategic Acquisitions to Create Attractive Returns for Our Investors
$8.2M A REIT-to-REIT Transaction: Portfolio Prosperity with Strategic Acquisition
When a portfolio sale creates opportunity for both the seller and buyer
The Background: Portfolio Repositioning
Mergers and acquisitions in seniors housing are nothing new, but financial constraints throughout the rise of COVID-19 caused several owners and operators to reevaluate. Sometimes, selling an outlying property or facility is the gateway to financial health and stability. Conversely, acquiring a facility that shows opportunity can also represent that same goal.
During a growth phase, or when market opportunities abound, it can be enticing to acquire properties that may fall outside the typical geographical territories owners and operators specialize in. Initially, this decision may seem like a strategic investment, until that outlier property becomes the portfolio pain point. Logistically, it may mean that management and owners are less present because of the physical distance, or because the business model of that property is significantly different from the others in the portfolio. These scenarios allow a variety of operational challenges to creep in, often leading to decreased revenue and occupancy.
As the seniors housing and senior living landscape continues to shift post-pandemic, owners and operators are contemplating portfolio opportunities with an eye to remain competitive in the marketplace, and position themselves for financial health.
The Opportunity: Geographic Outlier
A large public REIT (real estate investment trust) was saddled with an underperforming assisted living facility that fell outside of its primary geographical footprint. Within their portfolio of properties, this facility was experiencing challenges with census and operations, averaging 45-50% occupancy during the peak of the pandemic. With a desire to return to their core market, the sale of the assisted living facility was an opportunity to right-size their portfolio.
Enter Wilshire’s client, a private REIT with in-market expertise interested in adding that assisted living facility to their portfolio. From a strategic standpoint, this type of acquisition aligned with this owner’s existing brand and market experience. With seasoned management and business development teams in that market, they could directly influence the turnaround of that assisted living facility and position it for positive cash flow.
The new owner recognized that expediting the implementation of their strategic plan would be critical to positioning the facility for new residents and the greatest gains.
Creative Capital Through COVID
The Solution: Value-Add Acquisition
The smaller, private REIT was poised for success because of an opportunity to be competitive in the regional market by repositioning the facility at the right price point, with a building refresh. Even before the plans to implement a facelift were fully realized, census began climbing as the broader community welcomed the ownership change.
The rebranding and refreshing included new paint, carpeting, furniture, fixtures, and more were upgraded, along with a new HVAC system, kitchen appliances, IT infrastructure, and security equipment.
“The larger REIT was very successful with their overall portfolio over the years, but this assisted living property became an outlier,” Wilshire’s CEO Don Pelgrim said. “For our client, the smaller, private REIT, the facility represented an opportunity. Acquiring it at the right price provided the foundation necessary to refresh and reposition the facility as an addition to their portfolio with a prosperous future.”
Wilshire’s sage guidance and entrepreneurial approach enabled this private REIT to implement a plan to reposition and refresh an assisted living facility seeking stabilization. From a financing perspective, the $8.2 million bridge loan was structured with holdbacks and reserves for payment, capital improvements, and operations.
The Impact: Sage Guidance and Entrepreneurial Approach
Post-acquisition, the new management team focused on raising occupancy and began to generate several move-ins per month. Once the value-add is fully realized and stabilization is obtained, the facility will be on target to generate a 56% gain over the client’s basis. This scenario highlights how the sale of a property benefits both parties for different, but equally important, reasons. In this case, both REITs walked away happy, and Wilshire saw the opportunity to provide debt capital to an experienced private REIT with the knowledge and knowhow to improve the facility.
As an alternative capital provider, Wilshire takes a disciplined and conservative approach to real estate debt and equity investment strategies, which translates into strong risk-adjusted returns for investors. This investment opportunity is one example of how the Income Fund invests in properties to help them reach their full potential and to make the seniors housing and healthcare facilities more attractive to residents, ultimately benefitting everyone involved in the transaction.