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Global firm buys Newark apartments for $49M

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The global investment firm EQT Exeter recently acquired the Christina Mill apartments in Newark for $49 million. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

NEWARK – A newly merged global real estate investment firm has closed on the Christina Mill apartment complex near the University of Delaware campus for $49 million, setting a high mark for the multifamily market to start 2022.

EQT Exeter, a firm created in January by the acquisition of former Exeter Property Group, based in Conshohocken, Pa., by Swedish private equity giant EQT AB, closed the deal on Feb. 8, according to county land records. The $49 million sale, which would rank among Delaware’s Top 5 largest sales of the past decade for a single asset, translates to a per unit price of nearly $215,000 – a potentially record-setting per unit value for a First State multifamily asset.

EQT Exeter may have paid a record per unit price for a multifamily complex in New Castle County with the $49 million sale. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

The seller was South Carolina-based real estate investment firm Graycliff Capital Partners, which acquired the 228-unit complex off Elkton Road near Suburban Plaza for $39.3 million in 2018, translating to a nearly $10 million profit in less than four years.

Built in 1992, Christina Mill caters to young professionals, graduate students and more, offering one-or two-bedroom units with current monthly rents running from $1,430 to $2,155, according to online listings. Prior owners, Lowe Enterprises Investors and Korman Residential Properties, had invested several million dollars into renovations of the complex and its clubhouse, gym and pool within the past decade.

Neither EQT Exeter nor Graycliff Capital responded to requests for comment on the sale.

The sale is indicative of the rising values of multifamily properties, however, as they now represent more than half of Delaware’s Top 10 commercial real estate sales from the past decade, according to Reonomy data.

Four sales across the state last year – Spring Crossings in Glasgow, The Edge at Greentree in Claymont, Eagle Meadows in Dover, and Carillon Woods in Millsboro – commanded values of more than $40 million, with per unit costs falling between $150,000 and $210,000.

Multifamily valuations have risen in part due to the increasing rents across the state and region. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Delaware jumped 12.3% to $1,142, the largest two-year increase in any state, according to a 2021 QuoteWizard report.

With inflation at levels not seen in decades, many institutional investors are pulling money out of stocks and putting it into real estate investment funds, fueling asset price growth. With rents and leases able to be raised to keep up with or exceed inflationary costs, especially in tandem with the wage inflation being seen right now, real estate is often seen as one of the safest hedges against inflation.

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