Affordable Housing Providers Dominate Apartment Industry’s Top 50 Owners Ranking

profits upThe apartment industry made a surprising recovery in 2010 from the Great Recession, and that recovery is reflected in the 2011 NMHC 50, the National Multi Housing Councils annual ranking of the 50 largest apartment owners and 50 largest managers.

The NMHC 50 helps document the apartment industry’s evolution over time and helps identify trends within the sector and up-and-coming new players. Many of the changes documented by the 2011 NMHC 50 provide insights into the strategies adopted by apartment firms to survive the economic turmoil and to position themselves for the recovery.

One key change is that affordable housing providers, in the form of tax credit syndicators, have climbed to the top of the list as the largest owners of apartments. The top four slots on the owners list are now held by affordable housing firms: Boston Capital (No. 1), Centerline Capital Group (No. 2); Boston Financial Investment Management, LP (No. 3); and SunAmerica Affordable Housing Partners, Inc. (No. 4).

The number of REITs on the owners list is down to 10, from a high of 14 in 2005, and they own the smallest share (3.4%) of the overall apartment market since 1997. Just two of the top 10 owners, Equity Residential (No. 5) and AIMCO (No. 7), are public REITs.

On the whole, 2010 was a year of shrinking portfolios among the largest owners; six of the top 10 firms decreased the size of their ownership portfolios, led by AIMCOs net selloff of 22,254 units.

“The popularity of renting increased to its highest level since 1998, noted Mark Obrinsky, NMHCs Chief Economist. This translated into higher occupancy rates across the country even though job growth was only modest. The recovery also spurred a rebound in apartment prices and transaction volume, which doubled to $31 billion, added Obrinsky. And apartment prices gained substantial ground in 2010 after having fallen by 30 percent or more.

The five largest apartment owners in the country are:

1) Boston Capital (158,947 units);
2) Centerline Capital Group (152,600 units);
3) Boston Financial Investment Management, LP (145,454 units);
4) SunAmerica Affordable Housing Partners, Inc. (141,113 units);
5) Equity Residential (129,604 units).

Forty-two of the top 50 firms own market-rate apartments, 33 firms own tax credit or affordable apartments and 18 firms have senior housing apartments.

The complete rankings and more detailed analysis of the results are available at

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at