WOODBRIDGE, NJ—Keeping in close touch with landlords and explaining market trends to them has been the secret of dramatic sales success for Robert M. Squires, a senior vice president with The Kislak Company, who has been setting sales records for the firm since joining it 13 years ago.
In 2017, Squires was responsible for 30 transactions including five multifamily portfolios, with individual sales of more than $100 million. He earned more gross commissions in 2017 commissions than any salesperson in the company’s 112-year history.
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“Often my days are filled with meeting different landlords,” he says. “It’s really about having focused market knowledge.”
Much of the sales activity in the New Jersey multifamily market in which Squires specializes is coming from long-term owners who are seeing values for older multifamily properties.
“A lot of people are coming into New Jersey from Brooklyn because they are getting out-priced,” he says. “The older families are not pushing to maximize rent. They enjoy the cash flows, so some of the new purchasers feel like they can get higher rents, so they will pay a higher price, below a five-cap. Through upgrades to the units, they’ve been able to get larger rents.”
The five portfolio sales Squires notched in 2017 included: a $29.3 million sale of eight properties with 255 units and a $15.9 million sale of three properties (156 units), both in Passaic County; a $22.2 million sale of six properties (134 units) in Bergen County; a $19.35 million transaction for four properties (200 units) and a $7.4 million deal for four properties with 72 units, all in Essex and Orange Counties.
“Rentership is at an all-time high,” says Squires. “That kind of drives the prices of the apartment buildings we’re selling, because there is no shortage of renters.” For investors thinking about the multifamily sector, Squires suggests urban areas like Irvington or Newark for a higher rate of return.
“You want to have strong populations, you need to have enough people renting the apartments so that if you lose tenants you can easily replace them,” he says. “We just sold a nice portfolio in Bergen County. Purchasers looking to purchase assets like these can expect returns of four to five percent. Then, we just sold a handful of portfolios in East Orange where the rents are higher, there are several rail stations, so your rate of return is higher, you can expect five to six and a half percent.”
Squires joined Kislak in 2003. After his first year with Kislak, Mr. Squires received the firm’s Rookie of the Year award. In 2008, he was one of the youngest salespeople in Kislak’s history promoted to vice president.