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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

MIAMI-In order to take advantage of upcoming opportunities in the distressed market, San Diego-based Pacifica Cos. has hired multifamily specialist Gerard Yetming to serve as director of acquisitions. Much of the privately-held, diversified real estate company’s $2.5 billion portfolio is located on the West Coast, but after making its first distressed purchase in Florida in 2008, it will now establish a local office.

Yetming, who previously spent six years with CB Richard Ellis’ multihousing team, will start up the firm’s new location and lead its efforts to acquire fractured condo conversions and new condo projects, along with distressed retail, hospitality and office properties throughout Florida. “We don’t have a particular target in terms of how much cash we want to put out because it really just depends on the opportunities,” Yetming tells GlobeSt.com. “It would be easy to imagine that if the opportunities continue to develop the way they have been, we could do a couple hundred million dollars of deals this year if we find sellers motivated to move assets.”

Over the next year, distressed deals are expected to increase as the price gap narrows between buyers and sellers. “Now sellers are becoming more realistic, while banks are reaching the point where they’re controlling assets and they don’t want to own them,” explains Yetming, who says he decided to make the jump from CBRE in order to switch hats and join an acquisition firm that had cash and the motivation to get those types of deals done.

“Pacifica was one of the first to take advantage of a distressed deal in South Florida when it purchased over 300 units at Aventine at Miramar last year,” he says. “Now, the firm is under contract with a couple other deals that should close in the first quarter.”

Pacifica plans to remain flexible with acquired assets, but will generally hold them for an interim period of three to seven years. Unless a deal involves pools of single-family homes, which the firm is also looking at, reveals Yetming. “In the event that we find those we will begin turning the portfolio around right away.”

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