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What do you do when the company you work for eliminates your division?
If you’re Jeff Gault you go out and start a new business.
Gault used to run the urban division of KB Home, the big homebuilder that abandoned its inner city condo projects after Jeff Mezger became ceo last year. Gault (that’s him above) is trying to work the downturn to his advantage. In just four months he raised $350 million from wealthy individuals and institutions. He’s using the money to buy up as much as $1 billion worth of land—developed lots that builders can put up homes on.
Gault says lot values have fallen as much as 50% in overbuilt markets such as Las Vegas and the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles. Gault’s company, LA-based LandCap Partners, is focusing though on markets such as the Carolinas and the Pacific Northwest where job growth and land values are still relatively strong but where builders are having trouble financing land acquisitions. In crisis there is always opportunity.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.