Investors of Whitestone REIT are attempting to recover their REIT losses through Financial Industry Regulatory Authority securities arbitration. First offered in 2004 as a public, non-traded REIT under the name Hartman Commercial Properties REIT, shares of the investment were offered at a per share price valuation of $10. Until a statement in 2009, which informed investors that the value of Whitestone REIT had declined to a per share price of only $5.15, investors were unaware of any problems with the REIT.
On May 1, 2009, Jack L. Mahaffey, Independent Trustee, Chairman of Compensation Committee and Chairman of Special Committee for Whitestone REIT, issued a letter to shareholders. This statement revealed the $5.15 valuation was considered by Western Reserve Partners, a real estate investment banking firm which was engaged to review Whitestone’s internal management analysis, to be “on the high side of the range of reasonableness for current valuation.”
The letter to shareholders also addressed the question of why investors’ dividends had been reduced despite the fact that they were led to expect a dividend of 7 percent. In addressing this question, Mahaffey stated that “Whitestone had established a pattern of making cash distributions in excess of its FFO and available cash flow, a practice generally avoided by listed REITs.”
“We are facing a tough operating environment in today’s economic recession, with some of our tenants going bankrupt and others having to ask for rent concessions or space reductions just to make ends meet,” the letter continues.
In many cases, brokerage firms and broker-dealers may be held responsible for investor REIT losses when the investment was recommended despite its unsuitability for a client, given that client’s age, investment objectives and risk tolerance. Non-traded REITs like Whitestone REIT are often inherently risky and illiquid and, thus, unsuitable for many investors.
If you suffered significant REIT losses as a result of your investment in Whitestone REIT, you may be able to recover your losses through securities arbitration. To find out more about your legal rights and options, contact an investment fraud lawyer at The Law Office of Christopher J. Gray at (866) 966-9598 for a no-cost, confidential consultation.