(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of RealEstate Florida.)

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LEHIGH ACRES, FL-Brookwood Value Partners LLC, an affiliate ofMassachusetts-based Brookwood Financial Partners LP, has purchased214 finished residential lots here as part of its new buyingstrategy focused on purchasing land with entitlements ready to bebuilt upon. The vacant lots are part of a planned residentialcommunity at Homestead Road and Marble Brook Boulevard called theGrove. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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"Land is poised for a comeback quicker than other markets,"Thomas N. Trkla, Brookwood's chairman and CEO, tells GlobeSt.com."We have started focusing on the best value to play and we don'tthink it's in commercial property right now, and we don't think itwill be in the next 12 to 24 months."

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The company decided to pursue the purchase of finishedresidential lots after it sold a $650-million commercial portfolioincluding more than 4.7 million sf. "With the increased amount ofcapital entering the commercial real estate market, there was aresulting downward pressure on capitalization rates," says Trkla."In our opinion, the assumptions underlying the drastic increase inprices were overly aggressive, leading to unhealthy leverage levelsand unsustainable rent increases. As a result, we elected to lockin our gains at historically favorable valuations and become a netseller of real estate."

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Brookwood's purchase at the Grove is the first move made underthe new strategy. The single-family and villa residential lots wereacquired from national homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc., which willfinish another 140 lots that the company plans to purchase.

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Brookwood is currently negotiating seven additional residentialcommunity purchases in southwest Florida, including one in thePunta Gorda area that will close in a month, says Trkla. Thecompany is targeting the area from Naples to north of Fort Myers tothe end of Lake Okeechobee, and is also looking elsewhere in thestate at Jacksonville and Orlando, he says.

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