Mortgage REITs face two very difficult issues that threaten their business models. Identifying and procuring suitable investment opportunities is proving very difficult -- it's like catching a falling knife right now. The spreads are wide and no one wants to let go of their paper into a distressed market. New originations have fallen off tremendously from 2005-2006 levels, so there's very little unseasoned paper available. Secondly, even if suitable investments can be found, financing them will be a challenge. The securitization market is completely frozen and has remained so for sometime now. Repurchase agreements are becoming highly expensive and they expose the borrower to nasty margin calls.
Redwood Trust believes its competitive advantage in managing credit-enhancement securities will allow it shift through the rubble of subprime RMBS and CDOs and identify investment opportunities.
Redwood plans to acquire these securities through a third-party fund vehicle, offering limiting parternship units to investors. Thus Redwood can indirectly raise capital to purchase assets. RWT plans to purchase securities through these joint ventures and hold them to maturity, so the success of the fund will depend solely upon the performance of the securities and RWT's due diligence. It's an excellent way to shift risk off-balance sheet and to also spread risk among the limited partners rather than having Redwood purchase the securities outright.