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Sam Zell: Investors Should Resist The Urge To Buy, Buy, Buy

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Salty real estate mogul Sam Zell might be buying big in places like Argentina, but he is a little more circumspect when it comes to commercial real estate investments closer to home. 

Sam Zell
Sam Zell at NYU's Schack Institute of Real Estate's REIT symposium

The Grave Dancer, known for capitalizing on others' mistakes, advises caution, saying U.S. real estate is "priced to perfection."

“I’m a little bit like that old Wendy’s commercial: ‘Where’s the beef?’” Zell told Bloomberg TV. “I think it’s a very challenging situation, one that requires discipline.”

It is a tune he has been singing for a year: At NYU's Schack Institute of Real Estate's REIT symposium in April 2017, Zell said it is hard to justify buying U.S. real estate these days.

When asked on Bloomberg TV whether it is better to be a buyer or a seller in the current environment, Zell offered the example of his acquisition about five years ago of Equity Commonwealth, an office-specializing REIT he called previously mismanaged. 

"Since we took it over, we've done nothing but sell. Today we have $2.3B in cash, uncommitted, and we're just sitting there, waiting for the world to come to us."

Zell said it is hard to resist the temptation to "pull the trigger" on acquisitions. "But the guys who don't pull the trigger are around to pull it, when it works."

He also warned about the "beverage that everybody's excited about," distribution.

"My guess is that it's getting too exciting. We're building too much industrial space ... We've got a lot of people owning a lot of industrial space today, and I'm not sure there are enough tenants."

Zell also said that "enormous office space" is being added to the market, and "I don't see the demand."

Related Topics: Sam Zell, Equity Commonwealth