Jeff Talbot, Insula Companies

Real Estate

BY SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY AUG 11, 2014

At Insula Companies, a Sarasota-based firm specializing in apartment acquisition, now still seems a good time to buy. The company in mid-July announced its third Florida acquisition this year with the $12.4-million purchase of Park East Apartments in Tampa. We spoke to Jeff Talbot, director of acquisitions for the company, about the company’s decision-making process.

Are you likely to make more acquisitions in 2014? We are working out two more deals and will likely finish the calendar year with five acquisitions. Now is still a good time to be acquiring multi-family housing, but on a selective basis. We look at a number of opportunities but move forward on a small percentage.  Like any real estate investor, we look closely and the property has to have an allocation we like and the demand drivers. We like to buy where the rents are lower, and older complexes that need some work.  We look at a medium term of about three to five years for holding a property.

What level of apartments are you most interested in as far as acquisitions?  At Park East the rents range from $600 to $850 a month for a one- or two-bedroom apartment. That is typical of what like to invest in and acquire, between 80 cents and $1.10 per square foot.

You do Florida acquisitions What markets in Florida seem ripe for investment? A new market for us is Lakeland, which is ideally situated along the I-4 Corridor between Orlando and Tampa. We have an expanding foothold in Kissimmee. We one two properties in Sarasota—one is Beneva Place, one is Banyan Trail—and we own 30 West in Bradenton. We’re still seeing opportunities in both markets. In the bigger markets of Orlando and Tampa, there is more awareness and those are more competitive now, with a lot more buyers out of state interested. We think with the smaller markets like Sarasota and Lakeland, while there are not as many properties now, we know those secondary markets quite well and can be more competitive ourselves.

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