LAKE OSWEGO, OR-Acting on what it says is a reduction in multifamily housing in the area, Essex Property Trust announced Monday it has expanded its presence in the region by acquiring the 256-unit Hunt Club Apartments here for $17.5 million.

The Palo Alto, CA-based apartment REIT says it acquired the complex in “Oregon’s golden zip code” because of the region’s “improved demographic fundamentals.” In announcing the acquisition, Essex President and CEO Keith Guericke says the company sees a “significant reduction in the development of multifamily housing along with continued strong job growth,” a situation he expects will lead to increases in occupancy levels and rental revenues in the region, which he’s been seeing a lot of lately.

The acquisition comes after impressive third quarter earnings largely attributed to the strength of the company’s Northwest portfolio. The company reported third quarter funds from operations of $21.3 million, or $1.02 per diluted share, a 21% per share increase from FFO of $17.3 million, or 84 cents a diluted share in the third quarter of 1999. Said Guericke at the time, “Our Northwestern region experienced the greatest improvement since last quarter, attributable to improved occupancy and higher rents.”

Essex currently has ownership interests in 77 multifamily properties (16,721 units), and has 1,256 units in various stages of development. The company’s share price at the close of markets Monday stood at $52.06, up 81 cents for the day on double average volume, but off $4.44 from its 52-week high of $56.50, achieved on Sept. 28.

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