A portfolio of rental houses in and around Highland Springs has sold to an out-of-town buyer making his first local real estate play.
An entity tied to Staunton-based real estate firm Countryside Service Co. purchased the 38-home portfolio of the late Henry Gunst Jr. for $5.7 million.
The purchase closed Oct. 31, below the portfolio’s asking price of $5.99 million. CBRE | Richmond’s Barry Hofheimer had the listing and handled the sale.
Countryside CEO Frank Root said he learned of the listing from a BizSense article that a member of his sales team came across earlier this year. He said the purchase is the first Richmond-area deal for his company, which manages rental houses primarily in the West Central and Valley regions of the state, including areas around Louisa, Farmville and Lynchburg.
“We’ve made offers on a couple properties in the Richmond area before, but this is the first one we’ve actually closed,” said Root, a 45-year real estate veteran whose 24-year-old company includes a homebuilding arm, Countryside Homecrafters.
“We own a lot of single-family rental homes, and we always offer homes that become available for sale or rent,” he said. “We also owner-finance a lot of what we sell, and that is very appealing to some of the folks who live in those homes.”
Root said he’s selling several of the eastern Henrico homes to existing tenants, all of whom have been given an opportunity to purchase their homes, he said. Root declined to specify how many homes are being purchased, noting that several have yet to close, but he put the total in the “double digits.”
The 38 homes in six neighborhoods were offered for sale following the death of Gunst last December. The 96-year-old Gunst, a distant cousin of Innsbrook developer Sidney Gunst, owned the homes through a trust and his company, Gunst Real Estate. Hofheimer said the sale was intended to settle Gunst’s estate.
The portfolio – one of the largest collections of homes offered at once in the Richmond area in the past couple years – consists of vinyl-sided houses ranging from 1,400 to 1,800 square feet. They are located in subdivisions such as Hunter’s Run, Glenwood Lakes, Oakley Meadows and New Market Place, as well as on South Street in Highland Springs.
For homes that remain rentals, Root said, Countryside is committed to managing them long-term.
“We’re not going to kick the tenants out to get them available, but if tenants want to buy, we’ve got some pretty good programs with private financing,” he said. “Some of the folks will never want to buy, and that’s fine. We’ll let them rent forever. Others will want to buy, and we’ll make it work for them if they do.”
With his first Richmond-area purchase under his belt, Root said he’s keeping an eye out for other opportunities in the region. While his company’s holdings are concentrated west of Richmond, Root said, he has properties across the state, including one in Norfolk.
“It just depends on what it is and what we have capacity for when it comes up,” he said. “We’re always looking.”