Dallas Pension Overvalued Real Estate Investments by Millions, According to Review

real estate

An audit of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System has revealed that the fund overvalued a number of risky real estate investments, including a vineyard in California and luxury homes in Hawaii.

The fund invests heavily in real estate but suffered $96 million in real estate losses in 2013 [Read the Pension360 coverage here].

From the Dallas Morning News:

After a year of wrangling and delay, an independent review of the $3.3 billion fund has confirmed what many suspected: accounting problems.

The review, which focused on the fund’s real estate holdings in 2013, estimates that it overvalued some properties by tens of millions of dollars.

The new appraisals and the city’s push for an audit came after The Dallas Morning News flagged problems with the fund’s accounting. The News reported in early 2013 that the fund valued many of its real estate ventures by what it had invested, rather than by appraisals or other methods. This was contrary to widely accepted standards.

“This report shows we need better governance and more transparency into our pension fund so we can address issues as they come up — not years after the damage has been done,” said Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins, reading from a statement at a news conference he called Tuesday.

The specific findings:

[The review] found that $772 million in assets were at risk of being overvalued “because the valuation approaches or methods … appear to have been improperly applied and/or inconsistent with commonly accepted valuation practice.”

From this pool, Deloitte selected nine large assets that the fund had valued collectively at $585 million. The firm estimated the actual value of these assets instead to be between $507 million and $559 million.

Overvaluing assets on a fund’s books can create a falsely optimistic picture of its overall health, leaving police, firefighters and taxpayers on the hook for the future.

Fund officials, in a statement released Tuesday by their public relations firm, called the overvaluation flagged by Deloitte “financially immaterial when measured against DPFP’s entire investment portfolio.”

The Dallas fund allocated nearly 50 percent of its assets towards real estate investments as of 2012.

 

Photo by  thinkpanama via Flickr CC License

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