2017 NMHC Top 50 Apartment Owners

This year, Weidner Apartment Homes celebrates its 40th anniversary. The firm has mostly flown under the radar as a Class B owner in the Western states and Canada, quietly building a portfolio based on following a simple strategy: Buy strong, and go long.

“We rarely sell,” says Weidner COO Jack O’Connor. “A great property is identified by how well it fits in with our regional footprint and whether the building has good bones. We want to buy right, add value through upgrades, and then manage consistently and effectively, because we’re in it for the long-term hold.”

This steady approach brings Weidner and a handful of other long-hold portfolio owners into a 2016 limelight that saw national REITs collectively dispose of 35,528 units. Throw in MMA’s $3.9 billion megamerger with Post Properties and Starwood Capital’s $1.3 billion takedown of Milestone Apartments, and the REIT neighborhood is getting decidedly cozier as privately held players expand their game.

In the past three years, Greensboro, N.C.–based Bell Partners has sold nearly $3.5 billion in apartments while purchasing nearly $2 billion worth, a divestment trend offset in 2016 when the company purchased $790 million in assets while selling off $475 million. “We’d have liked to have acquired more, but it’s been a lot easier to sell than to buy,” says Bell Partners CEO Jon Bell. “We have to comb through a lot of opportunities to find assets we like.”

The Weidner team doesn’t mind if you credit that stock scarcity to portfolio hoarders, and issues fair warning that core assets and oft-ignored submarkets alike are on the radar as the company continues to expand. “We have seen the millennial movement back to the urban core and have shifted somewhat to a Class A strategy in Seattle, Minneapolis, and the Inland Empire [Calif.], among other markets, and we also expect to grow our unit count in Oklahoma City,” says O’Connor.

Market watchers seeking a microcosm of what Weidner is capable of can look to tertiary markets in Anchorage, Alaska, and Midland and Odessa, Texas, where the owner holds vast market share and is plowing profitability back into operations. “We tend to be the predominate player, particularly in smaller markets,” O’Connor says. “We tend to be a market leader and tend to be a profitable leader, getting involved and creating community with the goal of enhancing the lifestyles in the markets we plan to operate in for a long time.”

One area where Weidner will go maverick in 2017 will be Denver, where the company’s underwriters sense overvaluation and are attempting a full portfolio disposition in advance of a market correction. And though the company no longer holds the original Seattle asset founder Dean Weidner started the firm with, it, like a growing number of NMHC 50 privately held independents, is still going strong.

Rank (2017)* Company Name
(P) = Public
2017 Units Owned (as of Jan. 1, 2017) % Change
2016 to 2017
1 MAA (P) 99393 25% H. Eric Bolton Jr. Memphis TN
2 Starwood Capital Group 85554 100% Barry S. Sternlicht Greenwich CT
3 Equity Residential (P) 78023 -29% David J. Neithercut Chicago IL
4 AvalonBay Communities (P) 74538 -1% Timothy J. Naughton Arlington VA
5 Hunt Cos. 61970 19% Chris Hunt El Paso TX
6 Edward Rose Building Enterprise 61508 2% Warren Rose Bloomfield Hills MI
7 Lincoln Property Co. 59980 22% Tim Byrne Dallas TX
8 Essex Property Trust (P) 59260 1% Michael J. Schall San Mateo CA
9 The Irvine Co. 56732 2% Chaz Mueller Newport Beach CA
10 Camden Property Trust (P) 52793 -12% Richard J. Campo Houston TX
11 J.P. Morgan Asset Management 52046 0% Allina Boohoff New York NY
12 UDR (P) 51129 1% Thomas W. Toomey Highlands Ranch CO
13 BH Equities 51113 -8% Harry Bookey Des Moines IA
14 The Michaels Organization 49950 3% John J. O'Donnell Marlton NJ
15 Balfour Beatty Communities 49163 1% Christopher Williams Malvern PA
16 Aimco (P) 46311 -6% Terry Considine Denver CO
17 Weidner Apartment Homes 46218 5% Jack O'Connor Kirkland WA
18 Prudential Real Estate Investors 46185 4% Susan Mello Madison NJ
19 Greystar Real Estate Partners 44037 16% Robert A. Faith Charleston SC
20 Fairfield Residential Co. 41864 -17% Gregory R. Pinkalla San Diego CA
21 Cortland Partners 39674 23% Steven DeFrancis Atlanta GA
22 UBS Realty Investors 39361 -7% Matthew Lynch Hartford CT
23 Steadfast Cos. 36500 6% Christopher Hilbert Irvine CA
24 Monarch Investment & Management Group 35955 26% Bob Nicolls Franktown CO
25 Morgan Properties 35929 11% Mitchell L. Morgan King of Prussia PA
26 Forest City Residential Group (P) 32873 -30% Ronald A. Ratner Cleveland OH
27 Invesco Real Estate 31968 1% Michael Kirby Dallas TX
28 American Campus Communities (P) 31074 -4% Bill Bayless Austin TX
29 Sentinel Real Estate Corp. 30000 3% John H. Streicker New York NY
30 Milestone Management 29920 19% Steve Lamberti Dallas TX
31 Heitman 28614 -24% Maury Tognarelli Chicago IL
32 Westdale Real Estate Investment & Management 28204 -7% Joseph G. Beard Dallas TX
33 JRK Property Holdings 27514 1% Jim Lippman Los Angeles CA
34 Harbor Group International 27393 14% Robert Friedman Norfolk VA
35 AEW Capital Management 25523 -3% Jeffrey Furber Boston MA
36 AIG Global Real Estate 25441 37% Douglas S. Tymins New York NY
37 Southern Management Corp. 25114 0% David Hillman Vienna VA
38 AMLI Residential 25041 6% Greg Mutz Chicago IL
39 FPA Multifamily 24250 -9% Gregory A. Fowler San Francisco CA
40 Northland Investment Corp. 24212 5% Lawrence Gottesdiener Newton MA
41 Alliance Residential Co. 24163 -7% Bruce Ward and V. Jay Hiemenz Phoenix AZ
42 Dominium 24030 8% Paul Sween and Armand Brachman Plymouth MN
43 TruAmerica Multifamily 22400 52% Robert Hart Los Angeles CA
44 ELRH Investments 22000 83% Joseph Lubeck Tampa FL
45 GID 21462 8% Thad Palmer Boston MA
46 Berkshire Group 21454 -10% Alan King Boston MA
47 Highridge Costa Cos. 21115 -6% Michael A. Costa Gardena CA
48 Bridge Investment Group Partners 21061 -25% Danuel R. Stanger Salt Lake City UT
49 Simpson Housing 20,690 6% J. Robert Love Denver CO
50 Wood Partners 19998 -7% Joe Keough Atlanta GA
*Due to changes in methodology for this list, owners’ 2016 rankings are unavailable.