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ATLANTA-Despite a national slowdown in the number and size of sales transactions for hotels overall this year, the investment market for smaller properties appears active, according to locally based Hunter Realty Associates Inc. The brokerage, which focuses exclusively on hotels, says it closed three deals for more than $28 million in just the past week.

The sold hotels include a Best Western in Atlanta, a Comfort Inn & Suites in Birmingham, AL and a Courtyard by Marriott in Bristol, VA. Hunter Realty was the listing and selling agent in all three transactions.

“Despite the flood of negative economic news, transactions are and will continue to close,” says Lee Hunter, COO of Hunter Realty. This is especially true for deals valued at less than $15 million, he says.

An analysis by CB Richard Ellis of hotel sales through this year’s third quarter shows that roughly a third were priced between $10 million and $15 million. Among the most expensive were an 85-room Hilton Garden Inn in Tallahassee, FL for $13.2 million, or $155,000 per room, and a 68-key Holiday Inn Express in San Dimas, CA at $10.2 million, or $150,000 per room.

Hunter Realty did not offer any specific details about the size and price of the three hotels deals it handled. The five-story Courtyard was bought by Apple Nine SPE Bristol Inc., while the two-story Best Western was purchased by Kennesaw Hospitality LLC and the Comfort Inn was sold to DR&MV Hospitality LLC.

Multiple financing arrangements were involved in the transactions, including an SBA loan, cash above an assumed CMBS and a conventional loan in which the owner had a strong relationship with the lender, says Teague Hunter, the firm’s president. He adds that inflation is likely to affect values in the future, as the federal government continues its efforts to prime the economic pump, and tax advantages to owning real estate will become meaningful again with the prospect of higher taxes under the new presidency.

“We believe many more properties will come to market in 2009,” says Robert L. Hunter Jr., president of Hunter Realty. He expects the firm to finish this year strong in both property numbers and dollar volume, even with the decelerating economy.

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