M. Todd Marix, senior vice president with CB Richard Ellis'Houston office says JAW Equity Management LLC beat out close to adozen competing offers because the local company came in with alarge portion of non-refundable earnest money. Marix, whorepresented seller Whittaker Lauderdale Group of La Quinta, CA addsthat the buyer obtained financing from Capmark Financial Group Inc.to complete the transaction.

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[IMGCAP(2)]A specific price for the transaction was kept underwraps. Area sources note, however, that similar class C assets thatare approximately 30 years old trade for approximately $22,000 to$25,000 per door.

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"These are difficult properties on which to get financing rightnow," Marix comments. "In this environment, there is so much demandfor Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac financing, those lenders can affordto be selective, and they're passing over a lot of the C stuff tofinance the A and B stuff."

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Another reason why JAW Equity was an appealing buyer wasexperience. Last summer, the company acquired a 1,486-unitHouston-area portfolio. Emery Jakab, president of JAW Equity, saysthe assets in that collection were distressed and carried a highvacancy when first bought. These days, the portfolio boasts a 97%occupancy.

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"That's our M.O. We look for assets that have a great location,but maybe are under-managed. We buy them at an attractive price,then go in with a large renovation budget and seek to make them thebest in the neighborhood," Jakab says.

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Jakab tells GlobeSt.com that JAW's plans for the just-bought,75%-occupied Whittaker Lauderdale portfolio will include newbusiness and fitness centers, DVD libraries and general upgradesincluding new roofs where necessary. "All five of these propertiesare in submarkets where neighboring properties have occupancies inthe 95% to 97% range," Jakab says, adding he expects renovationwill take approximately four months. Some of the complexes havealready been renamed, though the closing just took place.

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Jakab says that while JAW Equity likes value-add assets, thecompany buys and upgrades one portfolio at a time. "We'll look atadd five to six properties every nine months," Jakab says. "As soonas this portfolio is stabilized and we're comfortable with it beingon track, I'll put together another partnership to buy somemore."

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The Whittaker Lauderdale portfolio consists of the 340-unitWestbrook Place Apartments at 7825 Corporate Dr., which has beenrenamed to The Lodge Apartments; the 294-unit Waterstone Apartmentsat 7502 Corporate Dr., which was renamed Waterfall Park Apartments;the 252-unit Greenridge Park at 1351 Greens Pkwy., which is nowLive Oak Bend Apartments and the 155-unit Wayforest Glen Apartmentsat 17601 Wayforest Rd. which was renamed Courtyard ManorApartments. The 224-unit Ashford Point Apartments at 3950Ashburnham Dr. will operate under the same name. The portfolio'saverage unit size is 778 sf, and in-place rents average $642 permonth.

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CBRE executive vice presidents G. Craig LaFollette and J. ToddStewart, senior associate Tre T. Banks and associate ChristopherCurry teamed with Marix to represent the seller. David Fantin ofLifestyles Realty Inc. represented the buyer. Andy Hill withCapmark Financial Group Inc.'s Houston office handled thefinancing.

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