Who Owns the Most Apartments in Los Angeles?

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In the radically evolving commercial real estate landscape amid rising uncertainty, multifamily assets appear to be among the best positioned to withstand any sharp post-pandemic declines.

But it’s an uncertain time for Los Angeles County’s housing market and many of the 9.5 million residents within it. For one, multifamily investment activity has slowed to a crawl compared to the rapid pace of sales the past few years, prior to higher borrowing costs.

SEE ALSO: LA’s Real Estate Resilience: Power Players of 2023

In the city of L.A. specifically, investors are also dealing with the newly implemented Measure ULA, which adds an additional 4 and 5.5 percent transfer tax on asset sales of at least $5 million and $10 million, respectively. Since then, apartment property sales over $5 million have plummeted. There are also the issues of rising homelessness, high inflation, record out-migration, and more new rent controls and freezes.

Commercial Observer looked at data provided by CoStar (CSGP) regarding the biggest multifamily real estate investment trusts (REITs), developers, equity funds and other apartment owners in L.A. County to see who’s sitting where in the housing landscape. The list is delineated by units owned, but details also include square footage, total properties owned, and vacancy rates, all of which CoStar compiled.

1. Equity Residential (EQR) — 13,027 units
The Chicago-based REIT owns more than 13,000 units in Los Angeles County. The portfolio boasts a 3 percent vacancy rate, and spans more than 12.5 million square feet in 48 properties on almost 400 acres. Equity Residential’s L.A. County portfolio represents a little more than 15 percent of its total units. The firm is at the top of the list despite unloading more than 1,000 units in Santa Monica in 2021.

2. AvalonBay Communities — 11,039 units
The REIT from Arlington, Va., owns 11,039 units in 33 properties that span 11.8 million square feet over 346 acres. The portfolio has a 2.6 percent vacancy rate, and represents just under 12 percent of AvalonBay’s total units.

3. Essex Property Trust — 10,954 units
Yet another REIT, and this one is from San Mateo, Calif., and not far from second place. Essex Property Trust owns and manages more than 9.9 million square feet of multifamily space in 48 properties on 206 acres in L.A. County, with a 4.3 percent vacancy rate.

4. G.H. Palmer Associates – 10,237 units
Geoff Palmer’s Beverly Hills-based firm is the largest non-REIT on the list. G.H. Palmer Associates owns 20 properties in L.A. County with 9.8 million square feet of space over 345 acres, and a 9.1 percent vacancy rate. The firm’s units in L.A. County represent over 65 percent of its whole portfolio.

5. Jamison Properties — 6,768 units
The private, L.A.-based developer has long been turning underperforming offices into residential properties, and has a loaded pipeline of such projects throughout the city. Jamison currently has 38 properties in L.A. County at almost 6 million square feet and a 6.1 percent vacancy rate.

The rest of the top 10 includes Sterling Corporation with 6,764 units; J.K. Residential Services with 6,745 units; Golden Management with 5,446 units; Prime Administration with 5,202 units; and Carmel Partners with 4,777 units.

Other notable landlords in the top 15 include Goldrich Kest, Brookfield, Positive Investments and Onni Group. CIM Group is 28th with 2,635 units, CityView is 29th with 2,618 units, and Douglas Emmett is 30th with 2,616 units. Greystar is 33rd, Blackstone (BX) is 35th, Crow Holdings is 37th, the Kroenke Group is 41st, and NMS Properties is 47th.

Gregory Cornfield can be reached at gcornfield@commercialobserver.com