(RealShare Chicago convenes at the Union League Club of Chicago October 23.)

OAK BROOK, IL–Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. is looking to take advantage of the robust multifamily sector and sell most or its entire multifamily portfolio within the next year. Newly appointed president of the locally-based REIT Thomas P. McGuinness tells globest.com that several multifamily properties it presently owns are under contract for sale.

McGuinness, who as GlobeSt.com reported was appointed president of Inland on Sept. 24, says that the firm, in addition to its plans to sell its 6,914 multifamily-unit portfolio, is also looking to expand its student-housing portfolio of 2,649 beds. He says that there are three pending multifamily sales transactions scheduled to close next week.

McGuinness says that Inland studied a sale of the entire portfolio but has opted instead to sell the properties piecemeal. “We decided that Main Street was giving us a higher price than Wall Street was,” he says. “So we’re selling them individually or in small portfolios.”

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When asked if the company plans to exit the multifamily sector, he responded: “Depending on pricing, there’s a good chance that we may be selling most or all of them.” The company currently is nearing construction on a 356-unit multifamily development in Dallas that is expected to be completed by December of this year.

McGuinness sees the student-housing sector as an opportunity for growth for Inland, which is currently in development in Fullerton, CA near the Cal State Fullerton campus on a project that will add another 2,500 beds to its portfolio once it is completed next year. That property will just about double the size of its student-housing portfolio. “We’re also looking at a couple of additional acquisitions that will bulk up that asset class materially,” he adds.

The company will also be looking to sell some of its limited-service hotels in smaller markets and concentrate on full-service, upscale properties in larger markets. Inland American had a lodging portfolio of 17,899 rooms as of June 30, 2012. He says that his goals in leading the firm that has a diverse portfolio of 48 million square feet are “to maintain our monthly distribution to our shareholders and preserve capital. It’s really an exciting position and I look forward to the opportunity because it’s really a good time to be running a diverse REIT.”