The long expected boom in banks unloading their REO and nonperforming loans may finally be afoot.

Partner Engineering and Science, a national environmental and engineering consulting firm based in El Segundo, Calif., reports seeing a significant jump in requests for its services from banks looking to sell their real estate owned and non-performing loans. And that, says company president Joe Derhake, is an indication that the market has reached its bottom.

As Derhake sees it, many lenders have kept these assets on balance sheet for fear of taking losses in a declining market. So any increase in his business suggests that the brighter tomorrow that both lenders and opportunistic investors have been waiting for may have finally dawned.

Although the problem of distressed assets should continue for some time, Derhake says the increased volume of requests for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) on distressed assets being brought to market by lenders is a positive sign and reason for cautious optimism for the remainder of 2011.

As though to back up his sentiments, Derhake says his company, which employs 130 professionals in 23 offices nationwide, is continuing to hire new scientists and open offices to facilitate increased disposition of distressed properties by lenders.

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