Credit: Robert Benson/Aurora

It’s been two years since the noncompete agreement between Cirrus Asset Management and Riverstone Residential was lifted, and Steve Heimler, principal at Cirrus, has been making up for lost time.

The Calabas, Calif.-based management firm opened new offices in Seattle last week, boasting 1,100 units under management, and the team is quietly working on a few more deals in California. 

“The handcuffs came off and we just started growing,” Heimler says. 

Cirrus has grown its portfolio by about 50 percent in the last year, and the firm is busting out of the West coast, with plans to open offices in markets that Heimler’s former brainchild, Stratus Real Estate, attempted but failed to penetrate.

The growth is partially due to the relationships Heimler maintained with prior clients. Cirrus hasn’t solicited any business since returning to the industry–based on Heimler's reputation, business is coming to him. Several accounts that formerly belonged to Stratus are now in Cirrus’ possession.

Long-term relationships with owners who are strategically growing their portfolios make up a big chunk of this clientele. When the company began, Cirrus only managed properties it owned, but the company expects third-party engagements to make up about 80 percent of its management portfolio this year.
If anything, Heimler is nervous about growing too fast.

“Stratus grew 700 percent in seven years, somewhat too fast,” Heimler admits. With the same top leadership from Stratus combined with some hard-earned lessons, Cirrus is making sure they don’t repeat the same mistakes.

They’re now very conscientious about which clients they take on, and how they do business. The trick now is in overstaffing, Heimler says, and a greater emphasis on training. 

In 2007, Heimler sold his former company, Stratus Real Estate, and its 24,000 units under management to Riverstone Residentia, and was prohibited from doing business in the 48 contiguous states and Alaska until 2011. During the do-not-compete term, Heimler focused on Hawaii, where Cirrus fee-manages 2,500 units, and plotted his next act, which is currently coming to fruition.