Strategic Storage Trust, a new non-listed real estate investment trust (REIT), has closed on its first transaction, with the purchase of two self-storage facilities in Mississippi and Florida for a combined price of $10.76 million. The REIT had made an initial public offering of common stock this year to raise as much as $1.1 billion to invest in self-storage facilities.

“With the closing of this transaction, we’re off and running in the right direction,” said H. Michael Schwartz, SSTI’s chairman and CEO. “In these uncertain and volatile markets, we believe that we will uncover significant buying opportunities in self-storage real estate with better values than we’ve seen in the last five to seven years.”

Schwartz also he emphasized that the Ladera Ranch, Calif.-based REIT put a lot of cash down, noting, “given the economic uncertainty, we feel that it’s prudent to reduce our reliance on debt.” The REIT purchased the properties from U-Store-It and paid about $7 million of the purchase price in cash.

This transaction brings Strategic’s portfolio to more than 1,300 storage units and 146,000 sq. ft. of storage space. The REIT continues to look for additional acquisitions, with the idea of creating greater efficiency in a sector that, while comparatively stable, is fragmented and consists of many smaller owner-operators.

Mr. Schwartz believes that the self-storage business represents an attractive opportunity for REIT investors because of its basic simplicity and its relative durability through times of economic expansion and contraction.

“It’s a simple business — three walls and a door. So it’s simple to understand,” said Schwartz. “And it is a business that thrives on change. Now more than ever you have people in transition. You’ve got people needing some type of temporary storage, whether it’s because of a change in residence, births, deaths, marriages, divorces or military enlistments. For us, change is good.”

The REIT also reports that its board has approved fourth-quarter dividends of about 7% on an annualized basis on its common stock.