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While most firms are quiet on the acquisition from during the recession Behringer Harvard is the opposite. Throughout the year, the Dallas-based investor has steadily made acquisitions, most of them multifamily buys, having picked up five of those assets in the last two months. The firm is also looking overseas and recently inked a deal with Rahlfs Immobilien GmbH to purchase retail properties in Germany. Jason Mattox, the company’s chief administrative officer, recently spoke with GlobeSt.com about what he likes in the current market.

GlobeSt.com: Your firm has done acquisitions throughout the recession. Why is Behringer going that route in contrast to other firms?

Mattox: From our standpoint, where multifamily and a couple of other acquisitions are concerned, we are finding very attractive opportunities in the marketplace. We believe the dislocation in the capital markets, the challenges that various sellers and owners are grappling with, are providing acquisitions that are significant discounts to replacement costs. We want to take advantage of that marketplace.

GlobeSt.com: So you’re not one of those players sitting on the sidelines?

Mattox: We see extremely high-quality properties with excellent track records in phenomenal locations with the right set of amenities being to the marketplace at attractive prices. We believe the time is right for us to make acquisitions.

GlobeSt.com: You’re buying a lot of multifamily. What’s your criteria for an asset purchase?

Mattox: We have a fairly broad strategy, but we’ve been focusing on coastal markets that have the most resilience. We are also looking for newer product that is most desirable for both echo Boomers and empty nesters. We’ve been looking for luxury properties with multiple amenities and a higher level of finish. And we are looking for sustainability characteristics, transit-oriented properties and live-work-play environments.

GlobeSt.com: Is there any concern that if housing market has a turnaround it could hurt multifamily?

Mattox: I suppose the context to look at the multifamily market today really seems to be influenced by a lot of the trends that are beginning to emerge. I think that most real estate experts believe that the trend for home ownership is going to decline. A variety of the incentives in the marketplace and the changed underwriting that’s impacting the lenders on single-family homes, I think will actually reduce the amount of home ownership. Couple that with actual, overall lack of construction in the multifamily sector, relatively speaking, and there’s a reasonable chance for a strong rebound.

GlobeSt.com: Are there any other sectors in which you’re considering acquisitions?

Mattox: We’re acquiring both for a multifamily pocket of assets and what you might consider opportunistic acquisitions that could cross a variety of property types. We have, to date, provided a debt instrument in a privatization of Army lodging. Even within the multifamily space, we’ve pursued an opportunistic acquisition in Florida. We’re really scouring in most major markets for area-attractive acquisitions that can take advantage of high-quality properties with great track records and sellers that have some challenges they need to deal with.

GlobeSt.com: So are your phones ringing off the hook with sellers trying to unload assets?

Mattox: Right now, generally speaking across the marketplace, most sellers are really grappling with their own issues, and it’s relationships that are uncovering opportunities more so than typical listed deals. Actual sales volume is still way, way down in the marketplace. But where multifamily is concerned, we have developed a reputation of being a good buyer of real estate and one that is focused on finding attractive properties and making acquisitions at an attractive value.

GlobeSt.com: Are there any sectors you won’t touch?

Mattox: It’s really on an asset-by-asset basis. In Behringer-Harvard’s appetite, retail is not at the top of the list. I believe there are going to be some continuing challenges in that space. Other than that, it’s on an asset-by-asset basis on what the opportunity represents.

GlobeSt.com: What is your attraction to Europe right now?

Mattox: We’ve been investing in Europe for a while now, and the primary reason for placing equity there is diversification. Our investor base believes that it makes sense to diversify into other markets. That’s the underlying basis. There are some attractive assets of Europe today. There is a bit more stability with their job outlook. While their economies from a GDP standpoint have been hit harder that the US, the housing values have not toppled. There’s some additional stability there, and we believe that there are still going to be very attractive assets available.

GlobeSt.com: What needs to take place for a market turnaround?

Mattox: Credit has to relax. The market has to unfreeze a bit. And jobs, jobs, jobs.

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