Arbitration Award Sends a Positive Message to Investors Suffering Losses in Nontraded REITs


The first of many cases involving sales of Apple REITS by David Lerner Associates Inc. has resulted in an arbitration award in favor of the aggrieved investors, Joseph Graziose and Florence Hechtel. A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrator ordered the firm to pay them back $24,450 for their shares of Apple REIT Nine, and to reimburse them for the $425 FINRA filing fee. (“First Apple REIT case goes against Lerner,” by Andrew Osterland, InvestmentNews).

The decision “could be an ominous sign [for David Lerner Associates] given potentially hundreds of other claims already filed or likely to be filed against the firm over the investments”. David Lerner Associates also faces an FINRA enforcement action over its sales of nearly $7 billion of Apple REITs. Lerner Associates received fees and commissions related to the Apple REITs of approximately $600 million, which accounted for 60% to 70% of its revenues since 1996.

Last December, InvestmentNews reported that the four best selling nontraded REITs had either closed or said they were going to close in the wake of adverse press coverage, regulatory actions, and regulatory warnings and Investor Alerts about the nontraded REITs.

Likewise, many broker-dealers that sold nontraded REITs have discontinued sales as hundreds of independent broker-dealers have been forced to close their doors after selling what MarketWatch’s Chuck Jaffee called a “stupid investment.” Morningstar said it “does not believe that a significant investment in non-listed REITs makes sense for most investors as there are still too many drawbacks and unresolved issues.”

Page Perry is an Atlanta-based law firm with over 170 years of collective experience maintaining integrity in the investment markets and protecting investor rights.