(To read more on the multifamily market, click here.)

SANTA BARBARA, CA-Essex Properties Trust of Palo Alto has acquired two apartment complexes totaling 108 units for $21.15 million, according to Hendricks & Partners. The Northern California-based apartment REIT bought the properties from Universe at Hope Ranch LLC of Beverly Hills through Essex Portfolio LP in a deal that was brokered by Dean Zander of the Los Angeles office of Hendricks & Partners.

The properties include the 38-unit Continental Apartments at 3968-3974 Via Lucero and the 70-unit Lucero Village at 3999 Via Lucero. Zander reports that Essex plans further upgrades to both the units and the common areas at the apartments, which have already been improved through a capital improvements program that the seller had in effect for the last few years.

In addition, Zander points out, the two properties represent hard-to-replace assets in a submarket where the vacancy rate averages less than 2% and the restrictions on development of new properties have greatly limited the supply of new units. The limits on new supply, in turn, have kept the area’s vacancies low and have produced strong rent growth.

The Continental Apartments consists of two individually deeded 19-unit buildings on two parcels of land totaling one acre. Each building features a landscaped courtyard in an open garden setting.

The apartments at the Continental feature a mix of studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. The units average 500 sf for the studios, 750 sf for the one-bedrooms and 1,100 sf for the three-bedrooms, which are townhouse-style units.

The Lucero Village property was built in 1973 and consists of three buildings plus a rental office situated on more than 1.5 acres. All of the apartments are one-bedroom, one-bath units that average 515 sf.

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