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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

TAMPA, FL-The 120-unit Regency Square Apartments here has been sold for $5.1 million, or $42,000 per unit, closing a transaction that took more than two years to complete. The garden complex at 11312 N 15th St. traded for 35% less than its asking price, according to NAI Tampa Bay.

“This deal was a true test of resiliency on our part and, more importantly, on our seller’s part,” says Bill Renje, multifamily associate with NAI Tampa Bay, which represented previous owner Regency Square Developer in the transaction. He says the apartments received at least a dozen offers, some of which were above the original price, adding: “Had our seller put the property on the market six months earlier, we likely wouldn’t have ran into the credit crunch and market decline over the previous 12 months.”

Regency Square was built in the 1970s and encompasses six two-story concrete block buildings with units ranging from studios to three bedrooms. Occupancy in the apartments has been at least 93% over the past three years, according to NAI.

The new owner, Tampa Regency Apartments LLC, is based in the Northeast and was represented by the NAI James E. Hanson office in Hackensack, NJ. The buyer, which paid a cap rate of 8.4%, plans to make improvements to the complex with NAI Tampa Bay taking over property management.

Casey Babb, multifamily specialist with NAI Tampa Bay, notes that deal volume for local apartments has dropped significantly this year though modest acceleration is expected in 2009. “We have several other properties under contract and scheduled to close in the next two months, and we are currently negotiating on nearly a half dozen other deals,” says Babb, who worked on the deal with Renje and T. Sean Lance, managing director of NAI Tampa Bay.

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