Banks’ at-risk empty homes covered by Berkshire Hathaway

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is insuring high-risk repossessed homes to make money from banks hit by the mortgage-market collapse, Bloomberg reports

Munich Re and QBE are already in one of the few expanding US insurance markets.

“It’s part of the standard practice of Berkshire, which is to respond opportunistically,” said Tom Russo, a partner at Gardner Russo & Gardner, which holds Berkshire shares. “They have appetite to act, the capital to act and the credibility.”

Empty homes

The number of repossessed homes has quadrupled in three years.

“This is one of those niche areas that is growing,” said Robert Hartwig, president of the New York-based Insurance Information Institute. “The homeowners market overall is not growing much.”