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2 Really Innovative Entrants Into the Mortgage REIT Field: Two Harbors Investment Corp (TWO) and More

As the mortgage REIT space gets more congested, many have wondered whether increased competition for mortgage-backed securities will be a good thing for these companies and their investors. In particular, pure agency mREITs could wind up at a disadvantage, since the Fed’s open-ended QE3 program is sucking up much of that prime real estate, as well. After all, there are only so many of these goodies to go around, right?

Recently, a couple of mREITs have either announced or completed spinoffs of companies that are looking to make their way in the mREIT world. These particular entities are especially noteworthy because of their originality: one concentrates on single-family homes, and the other focuses on mortgage servicing rights.

Two Harbors Investment Corp

Foreclosed single-families spur new investment fad
Investor interest in foreclosed-upon single family houses was not lost on investor groups, and hybrid mREIT Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO) wasn’t immune to the pull of this shiny new investment vehicle, either. Recently, the company decided to spin off its single-family portfolio, and Silver Bay Realty Trust Corp (NYSE:SBY) was born.

Like others who have jumped on the foreclosed single-family home investment bankwagon, Silver Bay will acquire, renovate, and rent these types of homes for profit. So far, investors like what they see: The stock has risen by more than 13% since Silver Bay’s IPO two months ago. For Two Harbors, management hopes that the spinoff will allow the company to bestow a special dividend upon its investors at the end of the 90-day lockup period.

Mortgage servicing rights is big business
Newcastle Investment Corp. (NYSE:NCT)
recently partnered with Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc (NYSE:NSM) to snap up another bucket-load of mortgage servicing rights from Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), which has been dumping these assets in a big way over the past year or two. Under the agreement, Newcastle is entitled to one-third of the money flow generated by approximately $58 billion worth of mortgage loans.

Now, Newcastle has told investors that it plans to spin off the MSR unit as a stand-alone company called New Residential, which will join the big board with the ticker symbol NRZ. The new mREIT will contain other assets, such as residential MBSes, but the major impetus for the spin-off seems to be to create an entity which consists mostly of MSRs.

Are these deals a deal for investors?
While the Two Harbors-Silver Bay scheme looks pretty lucrative to investors, Newcastle’s presentation raises some questions. In comparing the proposed company to others in the industry, management notes that the current average yield is 7%, while Newcastle averaged 12% for 2012. Newcastle does expect a yield compression this year, however, due mostly to its commercial and senior housing portfolio components.

While these two novel ideas in the realm of mortgage REITs have yet to be tested, both have much potential. Silver Bay has already garnered much attention, and New Residential should debut in about one month. With a still-sputtering housing recovery and banks offloading MSRs at a frenzied pace, both of these entities should be able to find fuel for their profit engines with minimal effort.

The article 2 Really Innovative Entrants Into the Mortgage REIT Field originally appeared on

Fool contributor Amanda Alix has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America.

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