Monday, December 17, 2012

BET Investments sees the time is right to buy apartments

by Natalie Kostelni

BET Investments Inc. closed this week on two apartment properties and has now spent more than $80 million since September bolstering its multifamily holdings throughout the region.
The private company isn’t done, either. BET plans to spend between $100 million and $150 million buying apartment properties annually for the next three or four years. Its goal is to acquire up to 1,000 rental units a year.
“We want to buy a lot more and we’re focusing on Philadelphia,” said Bruce E. Toll, who runs BET with Michael P. Markman, who is president of the company.
The two properties BET just bought were Newtown Place in Newtown, Bucks County, and Wynmere Chase in Horsham, Montgomery County. Newtown Place off Cambridge Lane was constructed in 1987 and has 150 garden-style apartments. Wynmere Chase off Bridle Lane was constructed in 1987 and has 80 apartments. The Quaker Group of Voorhees, N.J., sold the properties for $25 million. 
On a tear, BET bought in September the 247-unit Chesterfield apartments at 1338 Veterans Highway in Levittown for about $25 million. The property was 96 percent occupied. In October, it dropped another $29.8 million to buy Curren Terrace in Norristown. Curren Terrace has 318 units at 1011 New Hope St. It is 97 percent occupied. BET intends to build additional units, a clubhouse and pool at Curren Terrace and at Newtown Place. It bought those two complexes from Home Properties Inc.
In all, BET’s apartment portfolio totals 1,171 units.
Bruce Toll started Toll Brothers Inc. with his brother Robert and reduced his day-to-day duties at the homebuilding company in 1998 to focus on his own ventures. BET has bought office buildings, shopping centers and industrial properties and last year started adding apartments.
The company’s timing to load up on apartments has been buoyed by more multifamily properties hitting the market. While many multifamily owners tend to hold onto their properties, the increasingly hot apartment market has motivated more owners to sell. BET will look at B-minus properties but focus on what it deems as B-plus apartments, which it believes tend to have consistent demand throughout economic cycles. While BET is on the hunt to buy, it will also consider constructing a new apartment community though it would focus on building Class A properties. Last year, it completed Dublin Terrace, a $50 million apartment community at 2034 S. Limekiln Pike in Dresher. It is an active adult community, it has 192 apartments in 12 buildings and a 4,000-square-foot clubhouse. The barriers to constructing new apartment communities have somewhat been reduced and communities have begun to approve more multifamily developments.

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