Bayside Cove at 100 Celecki Drive in South Amboy — Courtesy: Gebroe-Hammer Associates
By Joshua Burd
Gebroe-Hammer Associates is hailing the completion of some $1.3 billion in transaction volume in 2020, defying the pandemic and showing the strength of the multifamily sector.
The Livingston-based brokerage firm said it arranged 78 deals last year involving 7,080 units across New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania and New York State. Investor appetite for the asset class remained intense even after COVID-19 crippled the region in mid-March, the firm said, including 12 deals in December alone for a total of $173 million in value.
“The rippling effects of last year affected every facet of society and business, thus warranting an even greater level of connectivity with our clients via electronic or socially distanced means,” said Ken Uranowitz, Gebroe-Hammer’s president. “While very different from all other cyclical shockwaves encountered during our 45 years in the multifamily investment sales sector, the pandemic prompted us to employ an agile approach.”
The firm detailed several highlights in 2020, including:
- $64.9 million in sales over two months spanning 269 units in Middlesex County;
- The $43.45 million sale of Bayside Cove in South Amboy;
- A roughly $25.5 million sale of 87 apartment and townhouse units in Woodbridge;
- The $25.35 million sale of Hamilton House in Weehawken;
- The $23.75 million sale of The Fairmount at McGinley Square in Jersey City, which features 58 newly constructed luxury apartments atop 3,200 square feet of retail space.
Gebroe-Hammer got off to a fast start in 2020, inking $316.4 million in sales encompassing 1,574 units at the close of the first quarter. The activity marked a carry-over of historic multifamily investment volume that fueled one of the longest and most aggressive apartment-property investment cycles in history, Uranowitz said.
The firm’s highlights in December also include the $58 million sale of a 144-unit multifamily portfolio in Hudson County, a $21 million sale in Union County and a 100-unit garden-style community in Morris County, according to a news release. Additional transactions during the same month included a total of 175 apartment units that sold for a combined $18 million in the South Jersey and Greater Philadelphia area, as well as the $17 million trade of a nine-property, 133-unit portfolio in Passaic County.
“Our strategy included capitalizing on longstanding relationships, instilling confidence in an uncertain environment based on decades of downturn experience and overcoming major obstacles — albeit logistical, governmental and most importantly, maintaining positivity — to leave no stone unturned to get deals over the goal line,” Uranowitz added.
The veteran broker and firm leader expects continued investor demand in 2021, he said, given the long-established stability of multifamily investments.
“What we are seeing in many suburbs, including fringe cities of major metropolitan centers, is a migration of former big-city dwellers now working from home,” he said. “Whether this is a temporary or permanent phenomenon remains to be seen. Regardless, these tenants are seeking alternative apartment-rental options with more living space and greater affordability, where they can safely enjoy nearby outdoor recreation venues.”
While the rollout of vaccines and an accommodative Fed interest-rate policy are expected to relieve any residual aftershocks from COVID-19, multifamily will continue to experience limited exposure in terms of decreased occupancies, asking rents and property values, Uranowitz added, relative to other real estate classes.
“Despite the complex economic variables of the pandemic, multifamily investments
benefit tremendously from their fundamental function as one of the most reliable residential options,” he said. “As such, the wide delta between multifamily investment demand and for-sale product availability is expected to persist throughout 2021 and into 2022.”