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SAN DIEGO, CA-Investor demand has pushed apartment sales in San Diego County through the roof, as a new report says they reached the highest level in 17 years this past quarter.

According to the report, published by Burnham Real Estate Services, a total of 335 apartment sales occurred during the second quarter of this year. Sales activity has not reached such a fevered pitch since the second quarter of 1989, when 398 projects were sold. Last quarter’s level of activity reflects a 12.4% increase over the same period in 2001, when 298 multifamily projects changed hands.

The report also points out that 7,466 units were transferred in the second quarter of 2002. This figure marks a 66.2% rise from the same quarter a year ago, says George Carlson, vice president and apartment specialist with Burnham Real Estate Services. The last time such a vast quantity of units traded hands was in the fourth quarter of 1986 when 8,908 units were sold. It was the Tax Reform Act of 1986 that triggered the previous high, points out Carlson, who explains that sellers wanted to exercise the low 15% capital gains rate during the final quarter before the act went into effect on January 1, 1987.

This time around, the sales activity is being caused by several factors, Carlson tells GlobeSt.com. The principal forces behind the upswing in sales are the region’s housing shortage, the recognition that real estate is a “viable investment” and the current low interest rates, he says. “A lot of the transactions are being driven by 1031 exchanges,” Carlson adds, explaining that many buyers “would rather pay the high price than pay the taxes.”

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