Built in 1996 on 16 acres at 325 N. Gibson Road, near theGalleria Mall, Villa Serena includes a mix of one-, two- andthree-bedroom units with walk-in closets, full-size washers/dryersand nine-foot ceilings. Nit sizes range from 734 sf to 1,320 sf.Spence Ballif and Jeff Swinger of CB Richard Ellis representedSentinel in the transaction.

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The transaction is one of only six apartment properties over 100units to trade in the Las Vegas Valley since the start of the year,according to research by local broker Michael Belnick, a specialistin the apartment market. Last year 12 plus-100-unit propertieschanged hands in the first quarter and 42 changed hands for theyear. In 2006, 64 large properties changed hands and 90 suchproperties changed hands in 2005.

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The Edgewater sale translates to $124,500 per unit, which ispretty consistent with comparable first quarter sales. In February,the 272-unit Copper Hills in Henderson, which is six years older,sold for $121,000 per unit. In Vegas, the 184-unit Rancho Destinoapartments built in 1998 sold for $131,000 per unit in Februaryand, in March, the 120-unit Retreat apartments built in 1996 soldfor $125,000 per unit.

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In a first quarter market report, Applied Analysis found thatwhile sales have slowed to a snail's pace occupancy was up slightlyduring the first quarter along with rental rates. The locally basedbusiness research and advisory firm reports that the average askingrent rose 1.8% from this time last year and now stands at $888 perunit per month. The result is the slowest reported growth levelsince the beginning of 2004.

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Following six consecutive quarterly decreases, occupanciesincreased during the first quarter, reaching an average of 92.7%from 92.3% at the start of the year. One year ago, averageoccupancy was 94.1%.

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"We noted a modest increase in overall occupancy levels, whilelandlords have allowed rent growth to respond accordingly," AppliedAnalysis principal Brian Gorden says. "This rebalancing within thesector is anticipated to be relatively short-lived as overallhousing demand during the next 12 to 24 months is expected toincrease, with a large share of newcomers seeking out rentalopportunities. This should be the same time when the for-salemarket begins to report signs of improvement. Given ourexpectations of industry fundamentals, we believe that marketaverage pricing of sold apartment units will hold as buyer proformas reflect rising occupancies, more normalized rent growth andreduced concessions."

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