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Stone Point Capital Close To Buying Lennar's Rialto Capital Unit

Major homebuilder Lennar Corp. is in talks to sell its real estate lending and finance unit, Rialto Capital, to private equity firm Stone Point Capital. Rialto was founded as part of Lennar in 2007.


The details of such a sale are still under wraps, including the price, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing anonymous sources.

Earlier this year, Lennar said that it was considering selling off non-core subsidiaries to focus on its homebuilding core. In its early years, Rialto was an active investor in distressed loans, acquiring equity interests in two entities holding about $3.1B in distressed loans.

Connecticut-based Stone Point is a diversified firm currently investing out of Trident VII, a $5.5B fund raised in 2017. The firm has invested in 22 real estate companies since the mid-2000s, committing about $3.2B in the sector.

The move by Lennar to focus on its core comes at a time of uncertainty in the U.S. housing market. Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 3.5% in August to an annualized rate of 629,000 units, improving only somewhat after weaker June and July reports, according to HUD and Census Bureau data.

Also, existing home sales have fallen for the last six months, according to the National Association of Realtors. A shortage of inventory and high prices seem to be dampening the housing market this year.

"Housing affordability is becoming a challenge, as builders face overly burdensome regulations and rising material costs exacerbated by an escalating trade skirmish," National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz said in a statement. "Interest rates are also forecast to keep rising.”

Even so, builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes remained unchanged at a solid 67 in September on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Any reading over 50 points to optimism about the market.