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ATLANTA-Despite a debilitating multifamily investment market, Cedarhurst, NY-based Consumers Financial Corp. believes choice properties are available in the metro area and has signed a contract to acquire a 501-unit garden apartment complex in suburban Marietta, 15 miles north of Downtown.

Consumers president and CEO Donald J. Hommel couldn’t be reached by GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn the name of the seller and the property, the contract price, occupancy, age of the complex and average asking rents. The company is buying the property through its Spartan Properties LLC subsidiary.

But in a prepared statement, Jack Erenhaus, chairman and chief operating officer of Consumers, says the timing is right to make the purchase.

“There seems to be a fair amount of opportunity available in this marketplace,” Erenhaus says in the statement. “We have identified a number of properties that can be purchased at prices that allow for attractive current returns on investment, putting the company in a position to realize significant potential upside returns when the market strengthens.”

Erenhaus adds his company “feels that this marketplace represents a strong buying opportunity and potentially exceptional returns for our investors.”

But that’s hardly the glowing analysis a mid-year report on the metro apartment market from Marcus & Millichap shows. “Atlanta’s apartment market will remain weak over the next 12 months, but encouraging economic news signals that the market is nearing bottom,” the M&M report states.

The area’s multifamily sector “will feel downward pressure for another year,” the study says. “Record-low interest rates and affordable home prices continue to siphon renters. (But) an improving economy and decreasing new supply will slow the rise in vacancies and allow apartment owners to possibly experience minimal rent growth in the second half of 2004.”

The report notes investors “continue to buy properties in the Atlanta market, but sales transactions have slowed in the first half of 2003.” A total 34 sales were recorded in the January-June period versus 40 in the same period last year.

The median price per unit decreased slightly to $46,000. Sales activity has been concentrated within the Interstate 285 loop, particularly in the Atlanta/Fulton county submarket.

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