One of the nation's largest apartment owners has made a move to further tighten its focus on conventional apartments by almost entirely exiting the senior housing business.

This week, Greensboro, N.C.-based Bell Partners announced the sale of nearly all of its senior living portfolio for more than $300 million to Newton, Mass.-based Senior Housing Properties Trust. The sale includes 22 assets (with another four being sold later) in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Georgia.  The company will retain two senior housing properties in North Carolina.

Bell said attractive interest rates, a strong market for the acquisition of senior living assets, and a general backlog of investment cash from prospective buyers (particularly public REITs) impacted the timing of the sale.

That doesn’t surprise Ben Thypin, a senior market analyst for New York-based commercial research firm Real Capital Analytics (RCA), who says that such an environment has helped pave the way for dozens of portfolio deals this year.

Bell’s decision to sell its senior portfolio has been in the works for more than a year. In an interview with Multifamily Executive in December 2010, Jon Bell, president of Bell Partners, said he wanted to tighten the company's focus on the ownership and management of its market-rate apartment portfolio. That meant a move out of things that weren’t core competencies. “We concluded it’s tough to be great at one thing, much less different things,” he said.