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MIAMI-Physical barriers to entry and a diminishing supply of land on which to build new apartments have been major factors in Miami-Dade County’s being a hot spot for apartment investors, according to a report just released by Apartment Realty Advisors in Boca Raton, FL.

“That’s what’s appealing to investors,” Brad Capas, senior vice president of Apartment Realty Advisors’ Florida office, tells GlobeSt.com. M/PF Research has even placed the county in the top 10 rental apartment investment markets in the country for this year, the report states.

“Investors have always looked to South Florida,” Capas says. “What’s happened recently is other options are less appealing,” because other areas of the country are overbuilt, or the downturn in the economy has affected other areas more than South Florida. “There’s a lack of alternative appealing investment markets right now.”

In addition, the South Florida apartment market has been faring pretty well. “Our apartment market has weathered the downturn in the economy much better” than other areas of the country, Capas says.

And new additions to the South Florida apartment supply are limited, the report states. The area is “just about out of developable multifamily” property, Capas says.

The tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties is attractive to apartment investors, Capas says. “[But] Miami-Dade and Broward are particularly strong because of the limitation on supply,” he says, although Palm Beach County will be following in the footsteps of the other two area counties.

And barriers such as the Everglades to the west and the ocean to the east have limited urban sprawl–something that occurs in other areas, he says. In addition, several condo conversion projects have decreased or are decreasing the supply of rental apartment units that did exist, which also has improved the market, according to Capas.

“Condo conversions reduce the existing supply of apartments and allow sellers to harvest unprecedented profits,” the report states.

“It’s better for the remaining apartments,” Capas says, “They have fewer competitors.”

According to the report, some of the recent apartment sales include: -Meadows at Kendall Lakes in Kendall Lakes. This 168-unit property, built in 1973, sold in March for $12 million, or $71,131 per unit and $77.91 per sf. -Silver Blue Lake Apartments in Miami. The 272-unit property, built in 1964, sold in March for $4.8 million, or $17,574 per unit and $28.76 per sf. -Apartments Gertrodic in Hialeah. The 122-unit property, built in 1971, sold in January for almost $7.7 million, or $62,910 per unit and $96.72 per sf.

In 2002, Apartment Realty Advisors estimates that 8,700 units were sold in Miami-Dade. “2002 was a very active year,” he says. This type of activity is expected to continue in the area.

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