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HURST, TX-In an unplanned portfolio turnaround, an Austin-based firm has raised $19 million in recent weeks after testing the waters with 11 shopping centers, the latest sale coming with the 40,000-sf Woodview Village on the outskirts of Fort Worth. The seller, getting full ask across the board, has 16 closings scheduled over the next seven weeks.

Wes Walters of Wes Walters Realty Inc. has turned around the 93%-leased Woodview Village, built in the mid-1980s on 2.9 acres at 500 W. Harwood Rd. in Hurst after a 10-month hold instead of the normal three to five years. The buyer is a private partnership from North Dallas; the property is a “mom and pop shop” property with a $1.8-million assessment.

Walters, head of an investment group, brought out 11 centers to sell what he could to raise $3 million to buy a Houston property. The response, he tells GlobeSt.com, “has really caught us off guard.” He is collecting checks from $1.7 million to $8.1 million for nine properties ranging from 40,000 sf to 140,000 sf–each going to separate buyers.

In the rash of exchanges, Walters has hawked retail centers, with occupancies ranging from the mid-90% to full, in Colleyville, Hurst, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi and Aransas Pass. For starters, he’s buying in Fort Worth, Houston, Baytown and Galveston. Just two days ago, he sailed through three closings: the last asset in Austin and centers in San Antonio and Corpus Christi. The two-pronged play is retiring debt and building a 1031 Exchange pool.

The buy-sell climate has Walters holding a purchase contract on a shopping center in South Fort Worth while planning a tour next week for two out-of-state buyers who want to see a property he bought earlier this year in Arlington.

Seizing the buy-sell opportunities of today’s market, Walters is now looking for replacement properties that are larger and more expensive, but still in the class A minus to class C categories. And, he says the hot market has anted up the buying power to $3 million to $15 million from a $5-million cap. As for the appetite, that’s still the same strategy. “We will buy a class C in a class A neighborhood, but we won’t buy a class A in a class C neighborhood,” he says.

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