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ORLANDO-Private investors are challenging institutional buyers for a larger share of Central Florida’s 124,378-unit multifamily market, a new CB Richard Ellis Inc. study to be published in January will show.

For example, 51% of the total $370 million worth of apartment sales in 1999 were made by private sources. For the first three quarters of this year, however, 68% of the $209 million in deals done to date have gone to non-institutional purchasers.

“I think that shows private investors continue to see good value in this market,” Robert W. Miller, first vice president of CB Richard Ellis Inc.’s Orlando office, tells GlobeSt.com.

Another trend that will surface in Miller’s January report are the higher average per-unit sales made in the first nine months of this year versus the same period last year. Through September, 19 sales totaling 4,235 units were valued at $209 million. That equates to $49,350 per unit or an average $1.1 million per sale.

For the same period last year, 31 properties totaling 7,559 units sold for $304 million, or an average $40,216 per unit and $980,645 per sale. In all of 1999, 38 properties totaling 9,481 units sold for $370 million. That averages $39,025 per unit and $973,684 per sale. “Overall investment activity is down, but the numbers show it’s still a healthy market,” Miller tells GlobeSt.com.

His own team at CB Richard Ellis has closed five multifamily property sales this year totaling 1,480 units and valued at $70 million. That’s an average $14 million per sale and $47,297 per unit, about the same as the average across-the-board sales this year.

Product demand remains strong in Central Florida’s multifamily market. A total 12,590 units were delivered so far this year with total absorption of 9,387 units. Of the total 124,378 operating units, 115,921 units or 93% are occupied. That compares with the total 1999 inventory of 111,788 units of which 106,534 or 99% were rented.

In South Florida, Miami-Dade is the indisputable condominium market share leader with 80.1% of all sales in the first nine months of this year. Palm Beach County had a 10.3% market share; Broward County, 9.6%. A total 1,394 units were sold, relatively unchanged from the 1,378 sales in third quarter 1999, according to Miami-based Integra/AREEA Inc. The demand suggests the market is underbuilt, the researcher finds.

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