The past decade bore witness to the largest multifamily deals in history, all of which occurred before the capital markets came crashing to a halt in mid-2008. They are:

1. $22.2 billion acquisition of Archstone-Smith (2007)

2. $5.4 billion purchase of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village (2006)

3. ING's purchase of Gables Residential for $2.8 billion (2005)

4. Morgan Stanley's acquisition of AMLI Residential for $2.1 billion (2006)

5. Merger of Camden Property Trust and Summit Properties for $1.9 billion (2005)

6. Acquisition of Kushner Cos. portfolio by Morgan Properties, AIG for $1.9 billion (2007)

7. UDR portfolio purchased by Steven D. Bell & Co., DRA Advisors for $1.71 billion (2008)

8. Morgan Stanley's buyout of Town and Country Trust for $1.5 billion (2006)

9. AIMCO's acquisition of Casden Properties for $1.5 billion (2002)

10. American Campus Communities' buyout of GMH's portfolio for $1.4 billion (2008)

At the top of the list is an acquisition that won’t soon be toppled from its perch: the $22.2 billion acquisition of mega-REIT Archstone-Smith by a partnership of Tishman Speyer Properties and Lehman Brothers Holdings in 2007. The drop-off to the next largest deal, the $5.4 billion acquisition of Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town a year earlier, is substantial but that deal also involved Tishman Speyer.

REIT privatizations accounted for a number of the Top 10 deals. In fact, Morgan Stanley made the list twice—for its $2.1 billion buy of AMLI Residential as well as its $1.5 billion acquisition of Town and Country Trust, both in 2006. Not surprisingly, none of the decade's largest deals occurred in 2009. So, Apartment Finance Today turns its gaze to sunnier, more capitalistic times in the not-too-distant past, when blockbuster deals broke the bank.

10. American Campus Communities Buys GMH Portfolio for $1.4 Billion (2008)

American Campus Communities spent $1.4 billion to purchase the student housing portfolio of GMH Communities Trust in 2008. The deal was the second-largest multifamily deal of 2008, and spoke to the sector’s recession-resistant status. The move also marked a coming of age for the student housing industry, which saw its first sector-specific REITs emerge during the decade. The purchase of GMH significantly boosted American Campus’ market share. When the deal closed, the firm owned or managed 233 communities with 146,400 beds, eclipsing the portfolio size of fellow REIT Education Realty Trust, Inc., which owned or managed 41,329 beds across 69 properties at the time. The deal gave American Campus a presence in 39 new markets, as well as an opportunity to save on general and administrative costs and improve operational performance at the properties by boosting rents and occupancy rates. “For American Campus and our sector, the acquisition of underperforming assets is the greatest opportunity, and that’s what GMH Communities Trust represented,” said CEO Bill Bayless when the deal closed.

9.AIMCO Buys Casden Properties for $1.5 Billion (2002)

AIMCO added to its sizable holdings in 2002 when it bought 17,383 units through its acquisition of Casden Properties. The acquisition significantly increased AIMCO’s presence in Southern California. Casden had 6,356 market-rate units in Southern California, including 1,381 units that were under development in the Park La Brea development in Los Angeles at the time of the sale. The acquisition also brought more than 11,000 affordable housing units to AIMCO. AIMCO also acquired National Partnership Investments Corp., a subsidiary of Casden, in the deal, which brought ownership interests in another 41,000 units to the company. In all, the deal increased the number of apartments that AIMCO owns or manages from 304,000 to 363,000, and increased the value of the company’s portfolio from $12.5 billion to $15 billion.

4./8.Morgan Stanley Buys AMLI for $2.1 Billion, and Town and Country Trust for $1.5 Billion (2006)

In 2006, Morgan Stanley bought two public REITs, AMLI and Town and Country Trust, in back-to-back blockbusters. The deals instantly catapulted Morgan Stanley into one of the top multifamily owners in the country. The first deal to close was the $2.1 billion AMLI acquisition in February. Morgan Stanley bought all of AMLI’s common shares and limited partnership units for $37.75 each in cash, and quickly de-listed AMLI from the New York Stock Exchange. When a joint venture between Morgan Stanley, Onex Real Estate, and Sawyer Realty Holdings turned their attention to Town and Country Trust, an intense bidding war broke out. Other suitors included Berkshire Property Advisors and a consortium that included Essex Property Trust and UBS Wealth Management. When the dust settled in March, Morgan Stanley netted Town and Country Trust for $1.5 billion, or more than $40 a share. Town and Country was also de-listed from NYSE a day after the transaction.

7.Steven D. Bell & Co., DRA Advisors Acquire UDR Portfolio for $1.71 Billion (2008)

At $1.71 billion, the sale of an 86-community portfolio from UDR to a partnership of Steven D. Bell & Co. and DRA Advisors was an impressive haul, especially considering the state of the capital markets at the time. The deal, which represented 25,684 units, closed in a difficult environment as many lenders shied away from larger deals. UDR was so concerned about the availability of well-priced capital that it helped to pre-arrange some of the financing before it had even found a buyer. UDR approached Red Mortgage Capital to structure and underwrite a $1.35 billion credit facility through Fannie Mae as it went out to market the deal, which constituted about a third of its portfolio. After locking in the Fannie Mae debt, a $200 million seller’s note was included in the deal, and the remaining balance was paid in equity, split 85 percent and 15 percent between Bell and DRA, respectively. The deal was rate-locked in January when Treasury rates and lender spreads were low. UDR estimated that had it waited until June or July to put the properties on the block, the deal would’ve been about $150 million less given where interest rates had moved by then.

6.Morgan Properties, AIG Acquire Kushner Cos. Portfolio for $1.9 Billion (2007)

It took Charles Kushner 25 years to assemble the 16,784 units in his portfolio—and just one weekend to sell it off. The deal was consummated quickly, with initial contracts signed over a single weekend. The Kushner Cos.’ broker, CBRE, received the offer on a Friday, but it was contingent on Kushner agreeing not to review any other bids. Kushner said that as long as the contracts were signed before Monday, it wouldn’t look at any other offers. All told, 86 buildings were sold in 90 days start to finish—a tight timeframe even when selling just one building. For Morgan Properties, the acquisition more than doubled its existing portfolio of 14,000 units. Morgan assumed $480 million of existing debt, and Fannie Mae provided a $1 billion loan through Wachovia, which also kicked in a $125 million mezzanine loan. The partners provided the remaining financing, about $295 million in equity.

5.Camden Property Trust, Summit Properties Close $1.9 Billion Merger (2005)

Camden Property Trust and Summit Properties closed its merger in February 2005 in a $1.9 billion transaction. The two public companies combined to have a $5.8 billion total market capitalization, and a $2.9 billion equity market capitalization. The merger created a portfolio of nearly 69,000 units in 199 properties across the nation, making Camden the nation’s fifth-largest publicly traded multifamily REIT at the time.

4./8.Morgan Stanley Buys AMLI for $2.1 Billion, and Town and Country Trust for $1.5 Billion (2006)

In 2006, Morgan Stanley bought two public REITs, AMLI and Town and Country Trust, in back-to-back blockbusters. The deals instantly catapulted Morgan Stanley into one of the top multifamily owners in the country. The first deal to close was the $2.1 billion AMLI acquisition in February. Morgan Stanley bought all of AMLI’s common shares and limited partnership units for $37.75 each in cash, and quickly de-listed AMLI from the New York Stock Exchange. When a joint venture between Morgan Stanley, Onex Real Estate, and Sawyer Realty Holdings turned their attention to Town and Country Trust, an intense bidding war broke out. Other suitors included Berkshire Property Advisors and a consortium that included Essex Property Trust and UBS Wealth Management. When the dust settled in March, Morgan Stanley netted Town and Country Trust for $1.5 billion, or more than $40 a share. Town and Country was also de-listed from NYSE a day after the transaction.

3.ING Buys Gables Residential for $2.8 Billion (2005)

ING Clarion purchased luxury apartment developer Gables Residential Trust in 2005 for about $2.8 billion, including the purchase of all Gable’s common stock and the assumption of $1.2 billion in debt. ING paid cash for the stock at a 14 percent premium above Gable’s closing price at the time of the deal. The deal was one of the largest privatizations in the multifamily industry: At the time, Atlanta-based Gables owned or managed about 42,000 units, a figure which has since grown by about 10,000 units. But the company’s private status may be short-lived: Gables is mulling a return to the public markets, among a series of strategies to recapitalize over the next several years.

2.Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village Goes to Tishman Speyer in $5.4 Billion Sale (2006)

A year before buying Archstone, Tishman Speyer made a big splash with the largest individual acquisition in multifamily history. The purchase price for the 56-building, 11,250-unit Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village complex in New York cost a whopping $5.4 billion for the partnership of Tishman and BlackRock Realty. The partnership took on about $3 billion in securitized debt and an additional $1.5 billion mezzanine loan. The deal has become a poster child for the excesses of 2006, when cheap money flowed and underwriting assumptions pushed the envelope. When the transaction closed, about 80 percent of the development’s units were rent-stabilized, and the new owners hoped to convert the bulk of those units to market-rate. But the pace of conversions was slow, and was slowed further when residents sued the new owners, alleging that a number of the units had been wrongfully deregulated. In October 2009, the state’s highest court sided with the residents, and the very next month, the $3 billion mortgage was transferred to special servicing.

1.Tishman Speyer, Lehman Bros. Acquire Archstone-Smith for $22.2 Billion (2007)

The largest acquisition in the history of the multifamily REIT market certainly had its share of challenges. A partnership of Tishman Speyer Properties and Lehman Brothers Holdings paid $22.2 billion for Archstone’s portfolio of 359 communities (more than 87,600 units). The purchase was announced in late May 2007, and the deal was initially to be funded through conduit executions. But when the CMBS market tanked soon thereafter, the buyers had to scramble to put together financing. At the time, many industry watchers wondered if the deal would even close. Enter Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie purchased a $7.1 billion credit facility, the company’s largest credit facility to date. Freddie Mac bought two pools of loans totaling $1.8 billion, the largest pools it, too, has done to date. Meanwhile, The Irvine Co. bought a 90 percent interest in 15 of the communities, which brought in another estimated $1.4 billion, and the company also made an undisclosed equity investment. The buyers provided another $500 million in equity to close the deal.