The Value-Add Play
Buyers shopping for higher returns are finding them in the Detroit metro area. “Lately, we are a magnet for out-of-town, value-add investors looking to buy underperforming assets at a fraction of replacement cost,” says Larry Emmons, CCIM, SIOR, senior managing director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank in Southfield, Mich. Buyers are looking for class A and B multitenant, multistory buildings in prime suburban markets — namely Southfield and Troy — as well as in Detroit’s central business district.
Tenancy throughout the Detroit metro really fell off during the recession as the big auto firms struggled and auto suppliers were forced to cut back. In a number of office buildings, occupancies dropped from 80 percent to as low as 30 to 35 percent. Once occupancies start coming back to more than 50 percent, people start to take notice, Emmons notes. “You couple that with the fact that most of these buildings have been able to be purchased way below replacement cost, and that is another good barometer for out-of-town investors,” he says. NGKF recently brokered the sale of the Travelers Tower I and II buildings in Southfield. The two class A buildings, which combined total 790,000 sf, were listed after Thanksgiving last year. The property quickly attracted nine written offers within a three-week period with the highest bid exceeding pricing expectations by nearly $2 million. The three highest offers were all from out-of-town buyers in New York and Chicago.
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