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Carmel Buys Vista del Lago Complex

Real estate: The $55-million-plus price is the highest so far this year.


Carmel Partners LLC said Friday it has purchased the upscale Vista del Lago apartment complex in Costa Mesa for more than $55 million, the highest overall price paid this year for an Orange County multifamily complex.

The purchase from Prudential Real Estate Investors marks the San Francisco real estate company's entry into the Southern California market.

The 23-acre, 468-unit complex, which includes a lake, fits the company's strategy of acquiring unique properties, said John Williams, Carmel's chief financial officer.

Vista del Lago, built in 1972 off Mesa Verde Drive East, contains 20 units per acre, which is considered a low density level.

"You could not build a property like that with that level of density and size today, because of costs," Williams said.

Carmel plans to upgrade the property, including painting and making exterior repairs, to make the units competitive with newer projects in south Orange County. The property has a 5% vacancy rate, and rents average $1,107 a month, according to RealFacts, an apartment real estate research firm in Novato.

Williams did not specify the purchase price but said it was "in the high" $50-million range.

Though the price is the highest overall this year, other buyers have shelled out more on a per-unit basis, said Brian Abernethy, research manager at apartment brokerage Marcus & Millichap in Newport Beach.

Carmel paid $117,500 to $128,000 per unit for Vista del Lago. Abernethy said several purchases this year have averaged more than $130,000 per unit.

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