PHOENIX-Low interest rates and scarce land for new product raise the bar for the region’s multifamily market.

The latest sale brings out four competitors for a 15-year-old property, with the winner being a first-time Phoenix buyer. Michael Cook of Oakland, CA paid about $5.7 million for the 116-unit Cedar Court, located at 5215 W. Peoria Ave. in Glendale. The competitive edge got seller Eagle Creek Investors LLC of Chicago relatively close to its original asking price of $5.85 million.

Mark Forrester, associate partner in Hendricks & Partners’ Phoenix office, tells that the $48,922 per unit came in somewhat higher than the norm due to its location and condition. The 93%-occuped complex is located along the main east-to-west artery and near the primary north-to-south route in the Phoenix suburb.

Still, there’s no disputing that the market is hustling and bustling on the transactions side, which is keeping pace with 2000. Forrester says all product type is hot in a region that’s long been a magnet for out-of-state investors.

The one change that Forrester has noticed of late is that developers are finding it more and more difficult to find good building sites. “That is truly a new phenomena,” he says. “Land is beginning to be an issue almost everywhere. Even if the market was booming, it would be tough to find sites to build.”

Developers also are doing battle with rising impact fees, lower density restrictions and organized neighborhoods to block multifamily development. Add that to the world events and it means a construction pullback in a market that is showing a 7 1/2% average vacancy at stabilized properties.

Hendricks & Partners is still fine-tuning its third-quarter numbers. But, Forrester points out, the noose is definitely tightening on supply. That’s an upside for would-be sellers and a downside for wannabe buyers and tenants since it’s a catalyst for rising asking prices and monthly rents. The tightest areas are Tempe and Deer Valley followed by Northwest Phoenix, Glendale and the Southwest Valley.

Forrester and Bob Bruno, also of Hendricks & Partners, represented Cedar Court’s seller, which bought the complex in 1998, while the firm’s Tom Hyman of the San Francisco office negotiated for the buyer.

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