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68 homes and apartments sell for $43 million to California group. Properties are all near Wake Forest.

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A total of 68 residential properties catering primarily to Wake Forest University students have been bought for a combined $43 million by a California real-estate investor.

A Forsyth County Register of Deeds filing Monday listed the buyer as Champion Winston-Salem LLC of Santa Monica, Calif.

The seller is Wake Forest Student Housing Associates LLC of Washington, D.C.

The sale closed Friday, and Champion officials have taken over management of the portfolio, said Garrett Champion, executive vice president of the company.

Wake Forest University officials could not be immediately reached for comment about the transactions.

The sale involves single- and multi-family housing on these streets near the Wake Forest campus: Ewing Street (17), Long Drive (15), Palm Drive (10), Wakefield Drive (8), Lakewood Drive (6), Kress Drive (5), Howell Street (3), Deacon Point Lane (2), Brookwood Drive (1) and Yellowstone Lane (1).

Garrett Champion said the properties represent the company’s first purchase in the North Carolina market.

Champion said about 294 students have been affected by the ownership/management transition, primarily seniors and graduate students.

“This is exactly what we do,” Garrett Champion said. “Wake Forest is a great university, and this particular portfolio is well located and in very high demand.

“It was the most attractive student-housing product in the market, with little need for an overhaul, so we view it as an operational investment.”

Wake Forest Student Housing Associates paid a combined $20.9 million for most of the properties in April 2018.

Its overall focus is on developing and building “institutional-quality” multifamily, student housing and mixed-use campuses with long-term ownership in mind.

Champion said on its website “is extremely selective in its application of these strategies, recognizing the risks and resources required to properly execute.”

“Champion’s vast experience in development and keen understanding of the different stakeholders has resulted in numerous above-market successes.”

When it comes to student housing campus, Wake Forest represent an outlier from Champion’s overall strategy of Power 5 Conference universities with Division I athletic programs with an enrollment of more than 15,000 full-time students.

Those conferences are the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference.

The properties are ideally within walking distance to campus and there is a “supply/demand imbalance with new construction barriers to entry.”

“We invest around college campuses across the country, mostly in California,” Champion said.

Earlier this year, Champion sold two multifamily properties in southern California for a combined $103.1 million in order to use the proceeds on student housing acquisitions.

Also earlier this year, Champion acquired a 715-bed student housing community near Syracuse University for $65 million. In 2021, Champion acquired a 100-unit, 346-bed student housing community near California State University, Fullerton for $44.4 million.

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@rcraverWSJ

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