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MIAMI-All the indicators tell Peter R. Harrison the South Florida market is hot for multifamily properties. That’s why Harrison, the senior managing director and client services director for Cushman & Wakefield of Florida Inc., says C&W is expanding apartment brokerage operations into South Florida.

Earlier this year, the company’s New York-based parent acquired Atlanta-based Apartment Group to take advantage of growth nationwide in multifamily sales. “Now we’re seeing major strides in our statewide expansion into the multifamily business,” Harrison says.

Although Cushman & Wakefield already has initiated the apartment sales program elsewhere in Florida, Harrison is anticipating immediate sales growth in the tri-county area with the appointment of Jerry W. Baird as a director of South Florida apartment sales. Following the acquisition, the Florida operations focused first on setting up sales specialists at offices in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa.

“As soon as we acquired the Apartment Group, we made the determination that South Florida is the No. 1 place for expansion,” Harrison says. “We had to find the right person for the job, and Jerry has a strong institutional background.”

Baird formerly directed acquisitions for J.P. Investment Management and other institutional investors. Over the past 10 years, he has handled sales of more than $2 billion in multifamily properties. A graduate of the New York University School of Law, Baird also has lectured at Baruch College and the Columbia University Business School.

He will be working in a market that has an inventory of roughly 400,000 apartment units, Harrison says.

“In today’s market, multifamily is the strongest of the product types,” Harrison says. “So the acquisition of the Apartment Group gives us a platform on which to expand our multifamily capabilities in Florida and nationally.”

The expansion into South Florida comes as market surveys, published by firms such as San Francisco-based Marcus & Millichap, are reporting high apartment occupancy even as rents are growing by an estimated 4% to 5% across Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

“The South Florida apartment market is becoming a seller’s market even as many other markets are moving in the opposite direction,” Gene A. Berman, a Marcus & Millichap first vice president and regional manager, says in a survey released in July.

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