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HALTOM CITY, TX-A private investor from Colorado Springs has paid close to the $7-million ask for another 346 units in North Texas. The value-add buyer’s strategy this time is to provide some fully furnished efficiencies to make the utmost of a location near Tarrant County Community College.

“He’s really going to get creative,” Al Silva, a broker in Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investments Services’ Fort Worth office, tells GlobeSt.com about the acquisition of Desert Sands Apartments at 5709 E. Belknap St. Silva says the 21-building complex was about 50% vacant when the contract went down, but rose to 86% occupancy during the escrow period. With units to fill, some of the 114 efficiencies will be furnished as further incentive, according to Silva.

Silva estimates the new owner can achieve 50% higher rent from a short-term lease than a standard one. He says on the buyer’s first day of ownership that 12 completed leases of both types were banked.

“The unit mix was the biggest problem selling this deal,” Silva says, adding Desert Sands generated six offers in a 45-day marketing. “It just took someone with some imagination.” The 23-year-old complex, situated on 12 acres, also has 222 one-bedroom apartments in a 418-sf floor plan, six one-bedroom units in a 424-sf design and four two-bedroom apartments, each 836 sf. Monthly rents range from $370 for a 327-sf efficiency to $675 for a two-bedroom unit.

In mid-August, the buyer bought the 168-unt Woodglen Apartments at 5400 Boca Raton Blvd. in Fort Worth in another value-add play. In keeping to its plan, Desert Sands Apartments also will be managed by Centra Asset Partners of Houston.

The seller, an affiliate of Dallas-based Fifteen Group, had owned the asset nearly one decade. In the past two years, Desert Sands underwent a major renovation. The new owner’s game plan is to add amenities comparable to class B assets like a fitness center, athletic courts and an events room.

Silva, who partnered with colleague Kelley Sparkman, says Desert Sands’ most significant gain has been made in the last nine months as concessions decreased and occupancy increased from 50%. “It’s done an about face,” he stresses.

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