It was the best of times. And that's it.

It’s difficult to imagine a more favorable environment in which to be an apartment owner, developer, manager, or contractor than the conditions that characterized 2012. Strong demand and muted new supply led to robust rent growth in most markets across the country, and developers broke ground at a pace the industry hasn’t seen in years. The rehab market returned, values rose, cap rates fell, and interest rates stayed at historic rock-bottom lows.

Against this backdrop, the industry bore witness to some mega-deals that will likely reshape the competitive landscape for years to come. And as our exclusive research shows, many mid-market and smaller players punched above their weight class last year, making big moves to scale the ranks.

Taken as a whole, the 2013 Top 50 rankings illustrate a thriving industry in the early stages of a bull run, a sector surfing the crest of a high and mighty wave that shouldn't break for a few more years. Read on.

Top 50 Articles

  • The Finish Line:
    EQR finally lands Archstone, but the shakeout has just begun: Apartment companies up and down the food chain will feel the effects of this huge deal.
  • Opportunistic Acquisitions:
    With some strategic planning, plenty of new companies made the Top 50 Owners list this year by expanding their markets and acquiring large portfolios.
  • The Personal Touch:
    Retention and growth were fueled by outstanding customer service for the nation’s top ­managers in 2012.
  • Back in the Swing:
    The development pipeline returned in full force last year, with cranes swinging across every major metro’s skyline.
  • Upturn Upgrades:
    As the economy recovers, a flurry of activity in the acquisition-rehab market causes waves in the Top 25 Renovators list.
  • Survival, Revival:
    By patiently waiting out the recession and maintaining sound relationships, most contractors saw huge improvements in 2012.

2013 MFE Top 50