Yesterday’s announcement that New York City-based Gaia Real Estate and an affiliate of Starwood Capital Group invested $22.5 million of new equity to acquire and recapitalize PJ Finance Company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, signals yet another portfolio move in a market that has seen a number of them. PJ Finance Company's assets include a multifamily portfolio consisting of over 9,500 multifamily units in the Sunbelt region.

Though not a traditional portfolio sale, the Gaia-Starwood reflects a recent trend—multiple property portfolios are starting to move. And it’s juicing the sales numbers. In its first quarter sales report, Real Capital Analytics (RCA) pointed out that the increasing velocity of portfolio transactions helped push apartment sales up 31 percent versus the first quarter of 2011.

In all, 52 transactions involving 185 properties, valued at $2.6 billion, sold in the quarter. The three biggest were the 710-unit Columbus Square deal in New York with UDR and Met Life, a 3,156-unit Pivotal/Today Realty Portfolio bought by Pivotal Group JV, and the 820-unit Greystar Management Portfolio bought by Greystar Real Estate Partners.

In the last couple of weeks, even more hit the market and closed. In New York, Skyline NYC LLC, a holding company for real estate investment firm Urban American Management, sold a multifamily portfolio consisting of six buildings in Brooklyn, N.Y. for $42.1 million. Shamah Properties acquired the six elevator buildings, according to CoStar.

In California, Daylyn Investment put seven California properties totaling about 900 units on the market. In Texas, The Killeen Portfolio, three multifamily properties totaling 625 units located in Kileen, also just hit the market.

If appetite for these deals is strong, other portfolios could follow. For instance, Chicago-based REIT Equity Residential is looking at dispositions in areas like Orlando, Jacksonville, and Phoenix and could be open to bigger offerings with strong investor interest in apartment portfolios.

“Our guys tell us that there could be interest in a large portfolio,” said CEO David Neithercut in the company’s first quarter earnings call. “There are a lot of people out there with a lot of capital that would be very interested in putting a lot of it to work in a single transaction. And if we wanted to do that, I think we could and do so very successfully.”