The story of booming Florida real estate market often focuses on South Florida, but other markets are thriving.
In Lee County, the population has grown in an upbeat job market along with an appetite for multifamily deals, said Cushman & Wakefield’s Brad Capas.
Case in point: The $49.7 million sale of the 252-unit Coral Pointe at The Forum garden-style apartment community at 3100 Champion Ring Road in Fort Myers. The complex was completed in December 2017 and it was 95 percent occupied at closing Nov. 5.
“There is an employment growth trend in Fort Myers that’s really helping bolster the performance of rental apartment properties throughout the county,” said Capas, who helped close the recent sale. These are market conditions investors “just love.”
“It’s generating quite a bit of investor interest in the southwest Florida market,” said Fort Lauderdale-based Capas, referring to Lee and Collier counties.
Capas worked with vice chairman Robert Given, also in Fort Lauderdale and director of the Florida multifamily team, as well as with senior director Luis Elorza in Tampa on behalf of St. Petersburg-based seller and developer Mosaic Development, which sold the property to a consortium of investors led by residential real estate investor InvestRes.
One of the biggest employers in Lee County is Stamford, Connecticut-based research, planning and consulting firm Gartner Inc., which has an office about eight miles from Coral Pointe at The Forum. The company is working on a major expansion to accommodate employment growth, The News-Press reported in February. The company had 1,200 staff members in Lee County and planned to grow to more than more than 2,300 by 2022.
Growth by Gartner fed leasing at Coral Pointe, according to Capas.
Another major employer is Lee Health, which has four acute-care hospitals, two specialized hospitals and more than 12,500 employees, according to its website.
Despite a favorable market for multifamily demand, it took some work by the Cushman & Wakefield team to showcase the regional growth to potential investors. For one, out-of-state investors would be more likely to turn to primary markets like Miami and Fort Lauderdale, so it was Cushman & Wakefield’s task to show off Lee County.
“The market is well-positioned to continue to grow, and that’s the story we have to share with the investment community, get them to understand and ultimately get them on a plane to look at the property we are selling,” Capas said.
The property generated healthy interest from investors, although Capas declined to provide the number of interested buyers.
Southwest Florida benefits from tougher competition and higher prices elsewhere. Concentration on primary markets like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando has pushed out some investors who now are turning to other markets, Capas said.
“We call that migrating capital, and that has helped bolster some of the activity on some of these marketing assignments,” he said.
Coral Pointe at The Forum, previously called Mosaic at the Forum, is comprised of 10 three-story buildings on 13 acres just east of Interstate 75. The deal breaks down to $197,321 per unit.
Its location along the major thoroughfare also contributed to healthy interest in the property, Capas said.
Coral Pointe offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Available one bedrooms measure 545 to 789 square feet at monthly rents of $1,185 to $1,400 depending on the floor plan, according to the property website. Two bedrooms are more than 1,000 square feet at $1,525 to $1,565, and three bedrooms are 1,230 to 1,350 square feet at $1,650 to $1,775.