Brantley Pines complex sells for $27.2 million

A real estate trust recently bought the Madison Brantley Pines apartment complex in Fort Myers for $27.2 million — and as Southwest Florida’s rents rose at the fastest pace in the state. Philadelphia-based Equus Capital Partners Ltd., a major private-equity fund manager, sold the 296-unit, 95-percent occupied property to CAPREIT, based in Rockville, Md. Equus bought the garden-style complex for $19.2 million in April 2004, a year before prices crested in the real estate boom that collapsed at the end of 2005. The latest sale comes as rents took a huge jump for the Fort Myers/Naples metro area in the last quarter of 2014, according to Carrolton, Texas-based ALN Apartment News, which tracks data for large apartment complexes around the country. Even though market occupancy dropped 1.9 percent to 94.3 percent, rents “jumped a whopping average of 5 percent and are up 12.9 percent from this time last year,” according to ALN’s January report. For the average unit in a large complex, rent rose from $892 to $1,004, more than anywhere in the state but Palm Beach’s $1,314 (up 10.2 percent year over year). That’s more than any other market in Florida – also the highest in the 26 Sun Belt markets ALN tracks. “Will it last? What unlocks that is the insurance and mortgage financing,” said David Cobb, regional director in the Naples-Fort Myers area for Houston-based housing data provider Metrostudy, which tracks pricing and new-home construction. The rental market is tight in large part because apartments are being occupied by people who lost their homes to foreclosure and as a result don’t have the credit to buy again, he said. If mortgage financing requirements ease up, Cobb said, “You’re going to see some of those folks who are renting move out and buy a house.” But that won’t happen overnight, he said, and the tight apartment market “is probably going to continue through 2016.” Equus was represented in the Brantley Pines sale by Jamie May and Edward Yang of Naples-based JBM Realty Advisors.

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