AvalonBay Communities has it down in the apartment department. The real estate investment trust (REIT) buys, develops, renovates, and operates multifamily properties in the US. It specializes in upscale properties in high barrier-to-entry markets such as Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC. By providing luxury living in high-demand areas where apartment-zoned land is in low supply, AvalonBay can also charge premium rent. The REIT owns about 180 apartment communities with more than 53,000 units. It also has more than 30 properties under construction or redevelopment, and owns rights to develop more than 30 additional ones.
Most of AvalonBay's properties are garden-style but the company also owns mid- and high-rise apartment buildings. Its core Avalon brand comprises upscale apartments with high-end amenities in urban and suburban markets. Its AVA brand consists of smaller apartments in urban areas near public transportation and entertainment options, while Eaves by Avalon offers less expensive price points to renters in suburban settings.
The REIT handles its own leasing and management operations, and usually acts as its own general contractor and construction manager for the development or renovation of properties. To attract and retain residents, it offers amenities such as fully equipped kitchens with modern appliances, patios and decks, swimming pools, fully equipped kitchens with modern appliances at many of its properties.
AvalonBay, which is divesting most of its holdings in the Midwest, sold about a dozen properties in 2011. The dispositions helped the REIT attain earnings of more than $441 million in 2011, which represented an increase of more than 150% compared to the previous year ($175.3 million). Meanwhile, revenues rose from $874 million in 2010 to $968.7 million, an increase of about 10%. The company benefitted from higher occupancy rates at its communities, a continued decline in home ownership rates, and a limited supply of new multifamily construction projects from competitors.
AvalonBay often sells non-strategic properties to fund new developments or acquisitions. The company has ramped up its development activity in anticipation of a further improving economy in order to capitalize on the aforementioned trends. It also expects to accelerate its acquisition activity, which it put on hold during the recession. – less