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DALLAS-The Connor Group of Centerville, OH purchased Laguna Terrace Apartments, a 156-unit property on 11.5 acres at 5769 Belt Line Rd. here, for $17.3 million, or $110,897 per unit. Antheus Capital LLC of Englewood Cliffs, NJ was the seller.

The complex consists of 60 one-bedroom, one-bath units; 92 two-bedroom, two-bath units; and four three-bedroom, two-bath units with attached garages. Rents range from $830 to $1,725 a month, and sizes range from 726 sf to 1,424 sf. Units feature crown molding, dishwashers and frost-free refrigerators. Shared amenities include controlled-access gates, a clubhouse, fitness rooms and hot tubs.

The 15-year-old Connor Group has been investing in multifamily properties for the past several years, with more than $600 million of acquisitions in the past two years alone. Its portfolio comprises 44 properties with more than 12,000 units, which the company plans to expand to 20,000 units in about four years. Though more than 50% of the properties are in Ohio, recent acquisitions have included complexes in Atlanta, Dallas, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, as well as additional buys in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, OH. The total value of the portfolio approaches $1 billion, with plans to grow that to $1.75 billion. The company grew revenue from $62 million in 2005 to $88 million in ’06. Preliminary results indicate a similar rise last year.

According to CEO Larry Connor, the company generally invests in a property only if it can grow the bottom line by 25% the first two years. He tells GlobeSt.com the investment strategy is to recoup profits quickly by selling or refinancing after two to four years. The exec says he prefers well-located properties that are underperforming due to management problems. Consequently, Connor typically buys from pension funds and other institutional investors whose broad property mandates prevent them from gaining the expertise needed to perform well in specific property niches. “Properties that have not been well-managed create room for growth without excessive additional investment,” he says.

To improve revenue, the company makes improvements to attract and retain tenants and enable it to raise rents. It also imposes pet-ownership fees and other charges. To reduce costs, it outsources services that were previously performed in-house, such as painting, repair and maintenance. It also regularly surveys renters to learn how it to improve customer satisfaction.

The Dallas purchase closely follows Connor’s late February acquisition of the 269-unit Stratford Apartments in Sandy Springs, GA for $28.5 million. The company entered the Atlanta market in 2003 and now owns 14 apartment communities there with an asset value of $311 million.

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