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Wells II/Columbia Investors May Have Claims If Advisors Made Unsuitable Recommendations

Non-traded REITs are illiquid investments, not listed on public exchanges and with a very limited market for sale of shares if the investor wishes to sell subsequent to his or her initial purchase.. Their offering documents typically claim that after some period of time, perhaps 5-10 years, the REIT intends to list on an exchange, merge with another company, or in some other way allow investors to sell their shares- a so called “liquidity event.”  However, for many non-traded REITs that began to be sold to investors eight to ten years ago, such a “liquidity event” has failed to take place.  Further, non-traded REIT investments have greatly underperformed other asset classes and in many instances have made distributions to investors that are derived not from income derived from their underlying assets, but rather from the proceeds of the sale of additional shares in the REITs to subsequent investor.

Even if a non-traded REIT lists on a major exchange, that does not mean that its original investors have benefited from being sold such an illiquid investment.  An example of a non-traded REIT that has consistently underperformed similar liquid and publicly-traded investments is Columbia Property Trust (CXP, formerly known as Wells Real Estate Investment Trust II).  Columbia/Wells II was first sold as a non-traded REIT in 2004 and subsequently listed on the New York Stock Exchange in October 2013. Before it was listed, it sold shares to new investors at $10 per share. After its first day trading on the NYSE, its per share value was $22.52. 

However, this $22.52 a share valuation resulted from a four-for-one stock split, meaning that the shares sold for $10.00 a share prior to the IPO were effectively worth only $5.63 a share.   

Typically, non-traded REITs carry a high commission, sometimes as high as 15 percent, which motivates some brokers to make unsuitable recommendations to their clients. Non-traded REITs are attractive to investors because they carry a relatively high distributions of cash representing income and/or return of capital.  According to stock fraud lawyers, however, these investments are inherently risky and illiquid because there is a limited market for reselling shares.  This illiquidity and volatility makes non-traded REIT shares unsuitable for many individuals with conservative risk tolerances and those who need easy access to funds, especially when their portfolios are over-concentrated in illiquid investments.  

According to securities fraud attorneys, brokers firms have an obligation to fully disclose all the risks of a given investment when making recommendations, and those recommendations must be suitable for the individual investor receiving the recommendation given their age, investment objectives and risk tolerance. If a broker or firm fails to make suitable recommendations, investors may be able to recover losses through FINRA arbitration.

If you suffered significant losses as a result of an unsuitable recommendation to purchase shares in Wells II/Columbis or other non-traded REITs from a stockbroker or financial advisor, you may be able to recover your losses through securities arbitration. To find out more about your legal rights and options, contact a stock fraud lawyer at Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. at (866) 966-9598 or for a no-cost, confidential consultation.

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