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(Read more on the multifamily market .)

LAS VEGAS-Summerhill Apartments, a 440-unit property in the Northwest submarket here has sold for $52 million or $118 per unit. The property is located at 2150 N. Tenaya Way. Occupancy was approximately 90%.

The new owner is Artisan Real Estate Ventures, a company formed by former Related Las Vegas executive Martin Burger in 2006 to take advantage of acquisition and development opportunities in specific markets. The seller was Great American Capital Inc., a locally based real estate company focused on the retail and residential sectors. CB Richard Ellis’ Spence Ballif and Jeff Swinger represented Great American Capital. John Tippins and Brittany Morse of NorthCap represented Artisan.

Great American acquired the asset two years ago for $73,000 per unit and invested additional dollars in renovations. The pro forma cap rate for Artisan’s investment–which assumes 10% vacancy and $4,000 per unit in expenses–is in the low 5% range.

“It was a good deal for the seller, they’ve taken a huge profit and moved on, and I think it will be a good long-term play for the buyer,” says Ballif. “The property is located adjacent to the Las Vegas Tech Center.”

Artisan’s owns two other assets in Las Vegas, Meadow Ridge and Spanish Oaks, which have a combined 448 units. Meadow Ridge is a 232-unit residential apartment complex located approximately five miles east of McCarran International Airport. Spanish Oaks is a 216-unit residential apartment complex located approximately 10 miles north of McCarran International Airport in the North Central submarket.

Occupancy levels in the Las Vegas Valley apartment market at mid-year stood at 93.7%, down from 96% at mid-year 2006, according to Applied Analysis, a locally based research and advisory firm. Average asking rents, meanwhile, stood at $0.98 per sf per month at mid-year 2007, up from $0.94 at mid-year 2006.

Michael Belnick, a local apartment specialist who tracks the market on a quarterly basis, reports that 148 apartment properties changed hands in the Las Vegas valley through the first half of the year. In the largest apartment category, properties with more than 100 units, property sales slowed to 23 in the first half of 2007 from 28 in the first half of 2006 and 45 in the first half of 2005. The average price per unit, however, has risen. The average sale price per unit in the first half of 2007 was $111,400 per unit, which compares to $102,900 in the first half of 2006 and $79,000 in the first half of 2005.

Belnick says the larger properties continue to sell at higher and higher rates because more dollars are chasing larger, institutional-grade properties; because the larger buyers have more cash to throw around, making financing easier; and because institutional-grade buyers see the long-term upside to be had from the expected surge in employment due to a surge in new resort development.

“The players in [the 100+ unit market] are primarily cash buyers who understand replacement values and the future demographics of Las Vegas,” he writes. “They seem to understand the impact of $50 billion of new construction in the next five years and that catches their attention.”

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