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ATLANTA-The local office of Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP closed more than $100 million worth of multifamily transactions within December 2008. A total of six transactions were completed involving properties in North Carolina and Atlanta, HFF director Michael Cale tells GlobeSt.com.

“Five of the six transactions were closed with the first buyer that went under contract–a rarity in this market environment,” says HFF managing director Jason Nettles. The reason for that is because all but one of the buyers were private equity groups, he explains.

“Right now the institutional world is probably scared of its own shadow and is being more defensive as opposed to offensive,” Nettles says. “We have recently found that the private world is more reliable with closings.”

The closed transactions include $46 million in financing from Regions Bank that Cale was able to secure for a joint venture including locally based Capital 33 and institutional investors advised by JP Morgan Asset Management Global Real Assets. The team plans to develop a 325-unit luxury apartment community at 880 Glenwood Ave. in Atlanta, as reported by GlobeSt.com.

The deals involving private investment buyers include 290 units sold within two communities at 1220 Carriage House Lane and 1657 Quail Woods Road in Gastonia, NC, sold by a private investor; and 784 units located in two communities at 214 Lofts Lane and 6615 The Lakes Drive in Raleigh, NC, also sold by a national REIT. Woodland Hills, a 228-unit community at 3471 North Druid Hills in Decatur, GA, was sold by a national REIT to a national investment group, according to HFF.

Despite the number of transactions completed, Nettles says he does not believe the market will see a significant increase in activity over the new few months. Speaking to GlobeSt.com from the National Multi Housing Council Apartment Strategies Conference in Palm Springs, CA, he says the consensus for the multifamily sector is that it will take until the second half of 2009 before transaction volume starts to move again.

“It’s not necessarily a pessimistic view of multihousing, because we continue to have Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae providing liquidity to our sector, but an overwhelmingly pessimistic view from a global economic perspective,” Nettles adds. “The only positive is that people believe that our industry remains the most liquid segment of commercial real estate right now, and is probably going to be the first segment to fundamentally recover when we pull out of the recession.”

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