FEDERAL WAY-The 750-unit Waterstone Place Apartments here are under new ownership. Bascom Northwest Ventures LLC of San Francisco paid Chicago-based Equity Residential $49 million for the property, which was developed in the late 1980s and currently has a physical vacancy of about 94%. It is one of the biggest apartment transactions so far this year. The sale closed Friday, June 11. The asking price was $53.5 million.Wells Fargo Real Estate Merchant Banking provided acquisition and renovation financing. The details of the financing were not immediately available, but Bascom Northwest typically uses 75%-80% leverage for its purchases. David Young and Ken Dudunakis of Hendricks & Partners in Seattle brokered the transaction. Bascom Northwest Ventures is the apartment redevelopment unit of the Irvine, CA-based Bascom Group. The unit was formed by Brian Wirtz, a former vice president of acquisitions for both Essex Property Trust and AvalonBay Communities. Wirtz’s charge is to redeploy capital from the sale of the Bascom Group’s Southern California assets into the Bay Area, Portland and Seattle. The company’s game plan is to acquire communities in good locations and then execute a market repositioning with extensive capital improvements and institutional-quality property management resulting in increased rents, reduced expenses and, as a result, significant added resale value. Developed in phases from 1987 through 1990, the 35-acre property is the second largest multifamily community in the Puget Sound. It is situated 20 miles from Downtown Seattle and less than 10 minutes from the eight miles from Kent Valley and Tacoma commercial/industrial areas. The 750 apartment units are spread out in 72 two- and three-story buildings and range from 584-sf one-bedroom units to 1,221-sf units with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Amenities include three clubhouses, three pools, two playgrounds, two barbecue areas and three laundry facilities. The average rent per sf at the propertty is $0.92 and the average unit size is 852 sf. Based on the asking price, the proforma capitalization rate on the investment was estimated by the seller as 6.75%, while the all cash 10-year IRR was estimated at 9.78%, according to a source familiar with the property.Bascom Northwest managing director Brian Wirtz oversaw the acquisition. Bascom Group managing director David Kim will manage the operations and repositioning of the property. Bascom Northwest’s acquisition director Court Durling tells GlobeSt.com that upgrades will include the renovation of the 10,000-sf leasing office to include a cyber lounge, fitness center and 50-seat media room. Individual units will be upgraded as they roll with new fixtures, countertops and floor coverings.”The purchase of Waterstone Place Apartments comes after nearly three years of continued rent declines and increasing vacancy in the Seattle area that has left owners scared and redirecting their acquisition efforts toward sexier markets such as Southern California,” adds Wirtz, explaining that many owners are now operating at an economic vacancy of 20% or more. “However, after 18 months of increasing concessions and rent regression, the Puget Sound area is beginning to show signs of stabilization. The large rent decreases experienced in 2001-2003 are now leveling off (and) the Seattle Metro area economy is adding jobs after three years of losses.

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