There wasn’t much of a shake-up when it came to the Top 50 managers of 2012.

Greystar Real Estate Partners claimed the top position for the third year in a row by gaining more ground in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Western regions in 2012. The Charleston, S.C.–based company saw a 3 percent increase in managed properties last year and hopes to expand overseas in 2013.

Greystar’s dominance will likely be extended into next year, as well, given the $1.5 billion deal it struck with Equity Residential in January to acquire upward of 8,000 units.

Falling in line behind Greystar were five companies that all stayed in the same ranks as the prior year, including Pinnacle, which held its ground at No. 4. The Addison, Texas–based company held its place without gaining or leaving any markets in 2012. However, the firm welcomed a 10,000-unit addition to its portfolio in Texas, president and CEO Rick Graf notes.

“We’ve added some really key people in certain markets,” he says. “We’ve revamped our corporate infrastructure and the resources we’ve put into that. We’re rockin’ and rollin’ on all four cylinders.”

Graf believes companies choose to work with Pinnacle because of its personal touch, a tone from the top that prioritizes soft skills. Graf ensures the company has a good attitude toward everyone involved in the business, from the residents to the office managers to those who are hired to work at the corporate level.

While changes were being made in all aspects of the company, Graf says he didn’t want to lose the fundamental values of excellent customer service. Something as simple as being nice to people and saying “please and thank you” are what makes Pinnacle one of the top managers of 2012.

And while Pinnacle broke even as far as growth from 2011 to this year, with more than 138,000 managed units, there were other companies that saw their numbers fall from one year to the next.

Although Equity Residential saw a 5 percent decline in the number of units managed in 2012, the Chicago-based company held tight at the No. 5 spot, managing more than 115,000 units across the nation.

As part of the historic multibillion-dollar Archstone deal last year, the company expects to see a boost in numbers this year as those units are integrated into its portfolio. The deal adds 21,000 units throughout Equity’s core markets.

Lincoln Property Co. expanded its portfolio significantly in January with the acquisition of Grand Student Living, which added 2,900 units to the company’s portfolio. Lincoln plans to grow that part of the company in the upcoming year to boost its strength in the student housing marketplace.

Despite the acquisition, the Dallas-based company broke even in terms of how many units it managed in 2012 versus 2011, and that didn’t budge the firm from the No. 3 position on the Top 50 Managers list.

Rank Company Units Managed in 2012
1. Greystar Real Estate Partners 198,534
2. Riverstone Residential Group 174,838
3. Lincoln Properties 144,542
4. Pinnacle 138,638
5. Equity Residential 115,370
6. WinnCompanies 92,988
7. Bell Partners 69,112
8. AIMCO 66,076
9. Camden Property Trust 65,775
10. Alliance Residential Co. 65,116