The Alphabet of Real Estate Investing: ABS & CDO

by Renee Marie Jordan 05/10/2020

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

If you're considering getting into the world of real estate investing, there are some basic terms that are important to understand. Buying and selling property is, of course, one way to invest, but there are other investments that offer favorable returns. However, it can sometimes be difficult to master the confusing alphabet soup of investment opportunity.

Packaged investment products include the Asset-Backed Security (ABS) and a Collateral Debt Obligation (CDO). In some ways, they are similar; each is typically bundled as a group investment for marketing purposes. Financial return is realized as payments are made by the pool of consumers included in the group. 

The ABS evolved historically, beginning in the 1980s, with the lender practice of bundling mortgage-backed securities for resale, primarily to other institutions. Today the practice continues, but mortgage debt is classified as a CDO, with specific real estate as the collateral. It is a specialty designation under the umbrella of asset-backed securities. The breakdown can be complex, and terms are sometimes confusing.

Financing that comprises CDO debt includes all the underlying characteristics of the ABS, in addition to the specialized assets of both commercial and residential Mortgage-Backed Security (MBS) or REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) debt. A unique type of CDO that only includes mortgages is known as a CMO, referring to Collateralized Mortgage Obligation. 

Most investors really don't need to know more, but there are other designations that are commonly used:

  • A CLO is the term for Collateralized (Bank) Loan Obligation;
  • A CBO designates a Bond Obligation;
  • Credit-backed debt is sometimes referred to as synthetic CDO to distinguish it from cash-backed debt.

Various types of CDO debt are batched into three (or more) classes, known as tranches, with varying degrees of risk and return. Although the maturity level may be the same, an Equity Tranch investment offers the highest potential return but bears the lowest credit rating. A less-risky Senior Tranch boasts a higher credit rating, and the Mezzanine Tranch is in the middle.

Typically, an ABS investment package comprises credit card debt, student loan debt, home equity loans, auto loans, and large sum debt-repayment contracts for other goods, with no mortgages in the package. 

An investor in either an ABS or CDO earns a return, in part or in full, as the pool of debt is repaid by the individuals whose loans have been pooled. The risk of default is spread over the spectrum of loans, and investor risk is assessed, largely in proportion to the number and type of loans included in the package. 

These various types of investment packages are usually marketed only to institutions, rather than to individual investors, however there are ways for individual investors to purchase shares through the investment firm.

About the Author
Author

Renee Marie Jordan

Renee Marie Jordan is a Third Generation Realtor®, who started out her career in residential lending. Jordan Real Estate was established by her grandmother, Jean Kotwitz, who was one of the first female real estate brokers in Solano County! The company was then passed down to her mother, Diane Jordan, over 40 years ago. Renee Marie then took over the company 24 years ago and in 2015 joined forces with RE/MAX Gold.   

Regarded as one of Northern California’s most dependable brokers, Renee Marie has gained industry respect for creating a successful brokerage company. Renee Marie’s unique blend of negotiating expertise, innovative thinking and belief that the client always comes first, has resulted in an extensive client base with many satisfied homeowners. Renee Marie specializes in residential sales, first time buyers, short sale properties, luxury properties, investment properties, foreclosures, 1031 exchanges, and has been the HUD specialist for Solano County since 2009.   

Renee Marie gets to the heart of her clients wants and needs. She attributes a great deal of her success to the many referrals she receives from clients who appreciate the care and thoughtfulness she puts into every transaction. Friends and family members can count on the same excellent service when they are referred to Renee Marie.