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Profile: Ambit digs more returns but less risk out of the US real estate market

Ben Shoval and his partners have found a lucrative real estate niche: early stage, short-term funding for sound, non-speculative developers. Helen Avery reports.

Ben Shoval, Ambit Funding Ben Shoval: “the slowing real estate market in the US presents unusual opportunities”

The US housing market is now slowing. That’s official: the Federal Reserve announced in October that there had been “widespread cooling” of the housing market throughout the nation, with lower asking prices, sliding sales and rising inventories of homes in most of its 12 regions. Away from single-family homes, however, there has still been an opportunity to generate income from real estate, exemplified by the compelling returns of real estate investment funds. Such funds are up around 22% this year, with returns driven by sub investments in Reits, which focus on multi-family homes and commercial real estate. Now, though, even investors in Reits are beginning to get wary. With supply outstripping demand, interest rate cuts looking unlikely and mortgage rates creeping up, making money out of US real estate requires an alternative strategy. In 2005, realizing there was a noticeable gap in the market for commercial real estate developers looking to borrow between $1 million and $15 million, Ben Shoval, his father and another partner set up Ambit Funding, an asset-backed lending hedge fund that specializes in underwriting and servicing short-term real estate-backed commercial bridge loans to real estate developers.

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