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HOUSTON-It is the year to buy, says an exec in the Houston office of Phoenix-based Hendricks & Partners. Houston’s multifamily market this year, in all likelihood, will see sales surge as owners find takers for several large portfolios targeted for disposition.

Jeff Eisenhardt tells GlobeSt.com that Mikob Properties, Betz Properties and Flagship Properties will be putting or have put assets on the market, adding several thousand units to the “for sale” tickler.

Judging by current investor interest, Eisenhardt believes the properties will quickly sell. The caveat, as he and others are so prone to add, is that product will sell and the outlook is bright if there are no additional acts of war or terrorists’ strikes. Still, he sees 2002 as the right time to buy with the S&P and Dow Jones going down and Treasuries falling below 5%.

Eisenhardt predicts rents–ranging from an average of $577 to $610 per unit in the first quarter–will rise another 2% to 4% by the end of the year. According to the report, the highest rents can be found in the West Loop, with $748 per unit coming in as the monthly norm, and northwest Houston, where owners are getting $689 per unit per month.

Eisenhardt says the submarket to watch is the Woodlands. In the coming years, the Woodlands Town Center project, which includes a 1.2-mile waterway, alone will deliver up to 300 units.

The onslaught of new product delivering in a concentrated area of Midtown, the Museum District and the Galleria will drive vacancies further south, but this will only be temporary as the new high rise projects begin to fill, says Eisenhardt. The properties will be in stiff competition for class A space in the Inner Loop, he says.

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