Charles Steck

For Paul DeCain, timing is everything. And for him, there is no better time than now to be in the multifamily industry, especially when you work for a company with an aggressive growth strategy.

DeCain joined The Bainbridge Cos. in the newly created role of chief investment officer and principal last fall. He had built a relationship with the Bethesda, Md.-based firm over a number of years while serving as managing director for Eastdil Secured/Wells Fargo and its predecessor, Wachovia Capital Markets.

“Choosing Bainbridge was the easy part; the hard part was figuring out the timing,” DeCain says. “This is the dawn of a new cycle in the multifamily sector—a six- to seven-year run when it’s a very compelling time to build and buy lots of apartments.”

And “build and buy” Bainbridge will do. DeCain says the firm could easily buy $500 million worth of apartment properties in 2011, adding to its existing portfolio of 8,677 units. What’s more, “by the end of 2011, I would expect we’ll have four to six projects under development totaling $300 million to $500 million,” he continues, adding that construction financing is much more available today than it was even 12 months ago. “There are a number of active lenders on the construction side.”

DeCain says that both from an acquisitive and development perspective, the firm will focus on opportunities in the Washington, D.C., area—a place well-known to DeCain since he grew up in nearby Kensington, Md.—as well as in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., the New York metro area, and Florida (where Bainbridge already has a strong business).

A graduate of both Lehigh University and Dartmouth College, DeCain will not only source deals, but also underwrite investments and find equity and debt financing.

In particular, DeCain will be on the lookout for new joint venture partners that will team with Bainbridge on a programmatic level. “2011 could be interesting as pension funds and endowments start to commit to investments much more aggressively, which will bring down the cost of capital and provide us with good partners,” he notes.

Indeed, Bainbridge has weathered the downturn well, DeCain explains. “We don’t have any legacy issues, and it’s the right time for us to grow.”