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CHICAGO-Locally-based Fifield Realty Partners LLC has formed a $600-million apartment acquisition fund. The fund, Fifield Residential Partners IV LLC will concentrate on buying core-plus and value-add assets in both short-sale and loan-to-own deals.

“In good times, we build assets. In challenging times, we acquire and upgrade them,” says president Steven Fifield. “This definitely counts as a challenging time. However, because of the state of the current real estate market, there will be some outstanding opportunities in 2010.”

FRP IV is made up of a number of institutional partners. The fund will invest up to $200 million cash to purchase up to $600 million in apartments throughout 2010. Through the fund, Fifield expects to add more than 5,000 units to its current holdings.

Fifield tells GlobeSt.com the company is looking at “both urban and suburban (properties) but mostly 200- to 500-unit buildings or complexes. Most of our acquisitions will be between $20 million to $50 million.”

While previously Fifield focused on the Southeast, Southwest and Chicagoland area, the new fund is likely to tap properties across the nation. FRP IV is currently scouting for deals in Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles and Orange County, CA.

The play is one of longevity. Fifield tells GlobeSt.com, the apartment market is currently seeing operating incomes his a five-year low, a figure that “should increase nicely over the next three to five years.” He adds, “Nobody is stealing properties. Most properties are trading at 6% to 7% cap rates. The play is operating them well, upgrading and holding while the economy recovers and incomes can grow.”

For some of the older properties, Fifield is prepared to renovate. He says often assets that are between 10 and 15 years old need new kitchens and baths. Additionally they need the addition of amenities like business centers, larger gyms and movie theaters.

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