Everything in Mark Alfieri’s world is very deliberate. For the past six months, Alfieri has gotten up each weekday morning at 4 a.m., put on a pair of adidas sneakers and Nike training shorts, and endured the punishment of P90X fitness trainer Tony Horton running him through an hour of strength training, cardio, yoga, and stretching topped off with another 15 minutes of Ab Ripper X exercises. When he completed his first 90-day cycle of the notoriously brutal exercise regimen, Alfieri drove into work at Behringer Harvard’s Addison, Texas, headquarters, ran into senior vice president of multifamily property management Peggy Daly, and told her how he was starting all over again the next day. Daly wasn’t surprised. “When Mark takes something on, he gets completely into it,” she says, echoing a chorus of colleagues and peers who describe Alfieri as a relentless grinder of deals, a maverick corporate commander with full team loyalty, and an apartment portfolio builder par excellence.
Indeed, since joining Behringer Harvard in 2006 to launch the firm’s multifamily platform, Alfieri has grown the recession-era apartment fund from a one-man show operating out of a cubicle to a platform of 100-plus employees working deals, providing back-end admin support, and operating some 13,105 units across 47 properties (the bulk of which falls under Behringer Harvard’s Multifamily REIT I, which, as of mid-September, included investments in 10,545 units across 38 multifamily communities in 13 states). As the REIT’s COO, Alfieri was the architect behind the original 2007 deal that brought on Dutch pension fund PPGM as a co-investor. And since then, Alfieri has made the discretionary calls on selecting assets and investment channels, and initiated the Behringer Harvard apartment buying spree that began in 2008 and has grabbed up some of the best—and arguably the most—Class A multifamily real estate since the market crash of 2007.
“Starting from scratch, he has achieved the equivalent of going from zero to 100 miles an hour in 10 seconds,” says Jonathan Kempner, president of TIGER 21, a New York City–based peer-to-peer learning group for high–net-worth individuals, as well as a former president of both the National Multi Housing Council and the Mortgage Bankers Association. “With all of the moving parts and development and funds that entails, he has nonetheless maintained his equanimity. Mark is not the only apartment executive who has been successful, but his ability to command both the devotion of his colleagues and the respect of his industry competitors is the true mark of a leader.”
Alfieri himself is not immodest about Behringer Harvard’s multifamily achievements, but he’s not surprised, either. Formed during a peak year of apartment valuations, the multifamily portfolio was designed to be market adaptive with a focus on mostly coastal, core-plus assets. So the selection of which assets to purchase, and at what prices, and by what means over the past five years has been entirely deliberate, Alfieri says. Pitching and then signing on PPGM as a co-investor in the REIT’s nascent days? Deliberate. Ditching third-party managers earlier this year in favor of developing an internal operations platform? Anything but arbitrary. Even where Alfieri sits—no longer in a cubicle, but in an office that opens directly to the fund’s dealmakers, now working a bullpen of phones in his stead—is characterized by the executive as entirely deliberate.