The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

Tag Archives: Torchlight Loan Services

UHAB Organizers Embark on Vantage/Lone Star Foreclosure Campaign

In March, the Real Deal reported that Vantage Property’s Normandy-Vantage Washington Heights portfolio fell into foreclosure, after Anglo-Irish Bank folded and Lone Star Funds took over the loans. Vantage Property, notorious for harassing tenants, owed $42.2 million on the four rent-regulated properties, which– as you may imagine – are highly over-leveraged.

At the same time, Lone Star has also opened three other foreclosure suits against Vantage Properties.  These foreclosures include a 10 building portfolio in Inwood where Vantage owes Lone Star $44.4 million, and at 730 Riverside Drive and 344 Fort Washington Avenue where Vantage racked up nearly $22 million in debt, according to ACRIS.

On top of that, Vantage is in hot water with a third upper Manhattan portfolio where debts total to $70 million, and has been in foreclosure since October 2011. The eight buildings in this portfolio are securitized and we believe are serviced by Torchlight Loan Services.

If you haven’t been doing the math as you read this, no worries! We did it for you: Vantage has been taken to foreclosure court by various lenders for owing at least $178.6 million dollars. And it appears there’s even more to come.  In case  Facebook’s $16 billion IPO is still fresh on your mind, we would like to remind you that $178.6 million is a lot of money.

When it comes to Vantage Properties, we believe that the phrase “all your chickens coming home to roost” applies. Five years ago, Vantage made the wrong bet. They highly overleveraged these buildings, which directly led to tenant harassment: Vantage thought they could evict without justification, reduce services until people got fed up and left, and unlawfully raise rents until their loans made sense. They weren’t counting on New York City tenants and their unflagging capacity for fighting back; they weren’t counting on New York State Attorney General (now Governor Andrew Cuomo) taking them to task for their wrong-doing. Now their buildings are in foreclosure.

We spent much of the past week doing outreach in Vantage Property foreclosures where Lone Star has bought or inherited the mortgage, particularly in the Washington Heights and Inwood portfolios.  Until we begin to work with tenants and reach out to Lone Star to discover its plan for these properties, we are left with many questions. Does Lone Star plan to keep these buildings and become a landlord, or will they foreclose and sell them to the highest bidder? As of now, all we can tell you is that: 1. Lone Star is on a shopping spree. 2.  Vantage portfolios are embarking on their second round of predatory equity. 3. We are very suspicious.

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