By Donna Kimura

LOS ANGELES—Neil Socquet, a veteran of the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) industry, has formed a new syndication firm, IFG Capital.

The company is acquiring LIHTC deals from developers and preparing its first fund, which is expected to be out in the market in the first quarter of 2011.

“There’s been a change in the marketplace,” said Socquet, president and CEO. “Many large players are no longer in the market, and it has created an opportunity for a smaller start-up to come in.”

IFG is the second LIHTC syndication firm to launch in recent months. In November, Hunt Cos., a real estate development and investment management firm, announced the formation of Hunt Capital Partners, which is also focusing on LIHTC syndication.

These new players are breaking into the scene at an interesting time. The last few years have been turbulent in the market. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac halted investing about two years ago, and other major LIHTC investors pulled back as the economy plunged. During the same time, several syndicators have been forced to reduce their activities or restructure.

Just recently, the market has seen renewed investor interest. More capital began to flow in the second half of 2010 as new investors emerged and existing or returning investors upped their LIHTC activities.

For the first time in about three years, there’s a demand for tax credits equal to what the supply is, according to Socquet.

For nine years, Socquet was senior vice president of AIG SunAmerica, where he was responsible for debt and equity investments used to develop affordable housing. Prior to that, he was with Muni Mae Midland, Alliant Asset Management, and Boston Financial Group.

He is joined at IFG by Tom Riha, CFO; Timothy Young, COO; Chaz Seale, senior vice president of investor and community relations; and Sarah Gosler, director of marketing.

Riha served for 16 years as CFO and senior vice president of asset management at WNC & Associates, a longtime LIHTC syndicator.

Young joins the new firm after 23 years with Accenture, a global management consulting company, where he was based in Switzerland as director of operations.

Seale was a senior executive at Wachovia, World Savings, and Home Savings of America. He worked in retail banking, Community Reinvestment Act lending operations, and construction and permanent lending.

IFG is headquartered in the Century City business community of Los Angeles.