BOCA RATON, FL-The good news is the unusual real estate investment equilibrium prevalent throughout South Florida. The bad news is that investment sales brokers in the area are having to scramble to close transactions.

Two of Keith O’Donnell’s more recent deals, for example, involved space in the Atlanta area, though the client connections were made locally.

O’Donnell runs Codina Realty Services’ Palm Beach County operations from local offices and is also a managing director in the Oncor affiliate’s financial services unit.

He finds more brokers following their clients no matter where the subject property is located. Operating farther afield has been made much easier, he suggests, by the growth of multi-market companies and networks of independents. In Atlanta, for example, he could get assistance from the Oncor member there.

Another boost to doing deals wherever they can be found has been the Internet. Online information resources are “mind-boggling,” he points out, and long-distance contact-making is easier than ever.

In an exclusive interview, O’Donnell tells that if there aren’t a lot of South Florida owners in a selling mood these days, there also are not all that many prospective buyers. Yet in more recent months, he has seen some signs that the “market pause” of the last 18 to 24 months may be ending .

More institutional investors are scouting potential real estate acquisitions, according to the Codina executive. This could partially be the result of this year’s generally sideways-moving stock market, in contrast to consistently climbing real estate values, O’Donnell says.

At the same time, nobody is of a mind to do “crazy” deals, he emphasizes. Buyers are still looking for cap rates in the mid-9% range. And lenders remain conservative in their underwriting. While the real estate industry’s financial nosedive of the early 1990s is becoming an increasingly distant memory, the debacles of the past have not been totally forgotten, the broker advises.

Among specific submarkets especially attractive to real estate investors in the tri-county region, O’Donnell believes Boca Raton and Downtown Fort Lauderdale are at the top of many buyers’ wish lists.

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