Sales Transaction Volume is Down Significantly
The apartment industry was buffeted by crosswinds in 2008 according to the National Multifamily Housing Council's (NMHC) 20th anniversary ranking of the 50 largest apartment owners and the 50 largest apartment managers.
The bursting of the housing bubble continued to pull house prices downward and teach Americans that homeownership is anything but a “can’t miss” investment. But offsetting that pro-renting effect is one of the nation's worst economic and financial market crisis since the Great Depression.
"The apartment sector is better positioned than most to produce a robust recovery, however," noted NMHC President Doug Bibby. "Not only is it not overbuilt, like the single-family sector, demographic trends, changing lifestyles and our desire to grow more sustainably point to strong long-term demand for apartments."
“All in all, there were fewer changes in this year’s NMHC 50 than we anticipated, given the turbulence of the economic environment today,” said Mark Obrinsky, NMHC's Chief Economist. “Part of that is explained by a dramatic drop in property sales as a result of the credit crisis. Overall, transaction volume fell by more than 60 percent last year."
"Still, almost $38 billion in apartment properties changed hands, and NMHC 50 owners were prominent both as buyers and as sellers," added Obrinsky. "This led to a few notable changes in this year’s rankings."
For the first time in 11 years, AIMCO was neither the largest, nor the second-largest, apartment owner, having slipped to No. 3 after net sales of 38,208 apartments. MMA Financial is now the nation’s largest apartment owner. The St. Paul, MN-based firm owns 186,459 apartments.
While some apartment owners were large sellers, others took advantage of the economic uncertainty to expand their portfolios. Among the acquirers, American Management Services (dba Pinnacle) stood out with the biggest gains, adding a net 16,048 to its ownership portfolio. The firm is now the 10th largest apartment owner in the nation.
For the first time in 12 years, there are only two public real estate investment trusts (REITs) among the top 10 owners. There are now 11 REITs in the top 50 owners, down from a high of 14 in 2005, and their total apartment holdings has slipped to the lower share of the overall market since 1997.
On the management rankings, after seven years in the No. 3 slot and one year at No. 2, American Management Services (dba Pinnacle) finally moved into the top slot in the NMHC 50 management rankings. Riverstone Residential moved up a slot to No. 2 this year after adding more than 26,000 units to its portfolio.
As was the case on the owners list, there were some large net acquirers among the NMHC 50 mangers. In fact, 2008 saw the biggest management portfolio gain in 10 years by Greystar Real Estate Partners, LCC, which added 46,046 apartments to its fold.