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Real Estate - Commercial

Top Sales Of 2020 Include $360M In Wilmington Apartment Deals

By Cece Nunn, posted Feb 19, 2021
The sale of Belle Meade, an apartment complex off Carolina Beach Road, topped the list of the highest-priced real estate sales in 2020 in New Hanover County. (File photo)

Eleven of the 12 highest-priced real estate sales in New Hanover County in 2020 were apartment deals, according to county tax records.

The Wilmington apartment community transactions totaled nearly $360 million.

The only non-apartment transaction in the top dozen (coming in at No. 8) was the $21.7 million paid by Publix Super Markets for the Publix-anchored center in Carolina Beach, which also included an undeveloped 2.4 acres. The seller was an entity of GHK Cape Fear.

The overall most expensive sale of the year, records show, was the $54 million purchase of Belle Meade, a 324-unit complex at 1109 Matteo Drive off Carolina Beach Road. 

Capstone Apartment Partners sold the property on behalf of the previous owner, Wilmington-based McAdams Homes, and procured the buyer, Gastonia-based Southwood Realty.

“Despite the impact of COVID-19 and a flurry of multi-family development activity nearby, Belle Meade has performed extremely well, as has the Wilmington [garden-style apartment] market in general over the past year,” said Caleb Troop, who led the Capstone Apartment Partners transaction team, in January.

Local brokers weren’t surprised by the sales activity for apartments.

“We have seen a huge uptick over the last three to five years of institutional capital interested in Wilmington,” said Brian Eckel, GHK Cape Fear partner and co-founder of Wilmington-based commercial real estate firm Cape Fear Commercial, in an email Thursday. “There is a lot of capital out there right now nationwide chasing stabilized multi-family product. 

“With interest rates so low and Wilmington continuing to be on the top of the charts for inbound moves, we have seen our cap rates at an all-time low, which has led to the spike in the volume of transactions.”

Along the same lines, Mark Johnson, executive vice president/sales manager of Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners, said in an email, “I think the interest stems from the fact that our area is showing substantial and consistent growth, and our cap rates are well above the larger markets -- meaning more return for potential investors.”

He added, “The world has been waking up to the Southeast for a while now, and it’s just continuing to accelerate -- especially as we’ve all dealt with the pandemic.  We’ve already seen some trophy properties trade more than once -- such as One Midtown. It set a then local record for highest price per door back in 2016, and then dwarfed the previous number in early 2020 when it sold for almost $7.6 million more in only four years."

The $45.5 million sale of One Midtown Apartment Homes in 2020, in which Johnson was not involved, ranked No. 3 on the top 12 list. 

Johnson said, “Investors are definitely seeing upside in our market, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”

Top-priced real estate sales of 2020 in New Hanover County
Property Address Price
Belle Meade Apartments 1109 Matteo Drive $54M
Hawthorne at Indy West Apartments 3938 Independence Blvd. $53.25M
One Midtown Apartment Homes 2910-2911 Midtown Way $45.5M
Abbots Run Apartments 511 Cobblestone Drive $38M
Harbor Station Townhomes (formerly Pinewood) 4901 Randall Parkway $36.5M
Forest Hills Apartments 505 Alpine Drive $34.5M
Lighthouse Apartments 4955 Pepys Lane $27M
Publix shopping center, land 1019 Lake Park Blvd. N., Carolina Beach $21.76M
The Creek at Forest Hills 2239 Wrightsville Ave. $18M
34 North Apartments 603 Plum Nearly Lane $17.75M
Osprey Landing Apartments 703 Walden Drive $17.6M
Deerbrook Apartments 703 Grathwol Drive $17.45M
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