Lewis Goodkin scouts neighborhoods where condominium developers are struggling to sell units, looking for opportunities.

He scans the increasingly desperate display ads in the real estate pages of local newspapers. He tracks the progress of sales at newly finished buildings, and checks with the local electric company to see how many units in these buildings have had the utilities hooked up.

The president and CEO of Goodkin Consulting, a multifamily research and consulting business based in Miami, is a condo bargain hunter.

He is helping his clients, including many large, institutional investors, identify portfolios of 100 or more individual, unsold units at troubled, newly constructed condominium properties in glutted markets across the country. At press time, blocks like this were available at a 20 percent discount to their peak retail price, Goodkin said.

The Miami real-estate analyst plans to wait until the first quarter of 2007 before helping his clients purchase assets like these at discounts of 40 percent or more from demoralized condo developers. Goodkin then plans to sell the units right away at one-day auctions to local condo buyers at prices that the local market can support but which will still earn his investors a tidy profit.

“There is substantial demand in the $250 to $300 per square foot range,” Goodkin said.

Goodkin is just one of the investment pros now circling the condominium market. Mainstream rental apartment developers like JPI and real estate investment trusts like Archstone-Smith are also in the game. As condominium projects that overpaid for land during the condominium boom gradually surrender their sites, outfits such as JPI are actively looking for land on which to develop new apartments, according to Jack McCabe, president of McCabe Research & Consulting, a multifamily research firm based in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Investors are also eyeing failed condominium conversions for opportunities.

At the beginning of the year, one of Goodkin’s clients sold a Florida portfolio of five properties to a condominium converter for $300 million. That price worked out to a capitalization rate of 1.4 percent. A cap rate represents the net operating income of a property expressed as a percentage of the sales price. Though all five communities were converted, four of the five have now had to re-convert back to rentals after lackluster sales.

At a cap rate of 1.4 percent, rental income probably can’t pay the debt service for these units. McCabe is hoping to help experienced apartment professionals purchase units like these at a cap rate of at least 5 percent based on today’s healthy rental markets, good management, and the project’s proven rental history.

There are lots of troubled condominium conversion units to choose from: In Palm Beach County alone, 1,713 rental apartments that had been converted to condominiums have reconverted back to rentals since the start of the year, according to McCabe.

McCabe has already identified eight properties that his clients are now considering. He expects the first acquisition will close in October or November.