It’s hard to ignore the gap that exists between the No. 1 multifamily buyer and the rest of the 2011 top buyers list. El Paso, Texas–based Hunt Cos. ran away with the show by going on an acquisition spree in 2011. With 49,644 new units added last year, Hunt added nearly seven times as many units as runners- up Boston Capital and Chicago-based Equity Residential. Hunt was able to tally so many new units in 2011 because of its addition of three new subsidiary companies at the end of 2010. These companies' combined acquisitions for the year are what gives Hunt such a large total of new units purchased.

It's clear that private companies still outpaced the public ones in terms of buying power in 2011, but the REITs still did show up to get in on the action.Equity Residential, Houston-based Camden, and Highlands Ranch, Colo.–based UDR all were active buyers with strategic transactions in 2011. UDR, for example, disposed of $600 million in property in noncore communities to focus on buying properties in hot markets like New York and Washington, D.C. And Camden and Equity both were able to increase revenues and NOI while implementing similar acquisition strategies.

 Here's a look at the other big spenders that rounded out the top 10 multifamily buyers in 2011: