On New Year’s Day, Calabasas, Calif.–based Cirrus Asset Management principal Steve Heimler got his first official business call from somewhere other than Hawaii, where Cirrus fee-manages 2,500 units. “It was our attorneys telling us it was OK to pick up the phone and start doing business elsewhere,” says Heimler, who sold his former company, Stratus Real Estate, and its 24,000 units under management to Riverstone Residential in 2007 and was prohibited per a three-year noncompete agreement from doing business in the 48 contiguous states and Alaska until 2011.
Cirrus’ first major announcement this year, however, was still local, with the award of four management contracts from Hawaii’s largest landowner, Kamehameha Schools, for the lease-up and repositioning of four multifamily assets (totaling just over 100 units) near the University of Hawaii campus in Honolulu. New business in California and Arizona, however, isn’t far behind, as Heimler looks to build a new multifamily platform with roughly the same geographic footprint as Stratus. While competition has been tight in the West, Heimler feels a focus on smaller Class B and C assets offers Cirrus a niche to find value-add opportunities off the institutional radar.
“I’ve always been in the B and C properties, and I see it being a little less competitive today with the strong institutional focus on core assets,” Heimler says. “I’m comfortable in the 80- to 200-unit building size, and there’s still some value-add play left—through the implementation of technology that a lot of smaller property owners never implemented.”