Article provided by Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate

Written by Kristina Shevory, The New York Times [November 23, 2010]

At the start of the year, David Neithercut, the chief executive of Equity Residential, a real estate investment trust, set a target of $1 billion to spend on apartment buildings across the country. By the middle of this month, after buying 15 properties that included a troubled condominium tower in San Diego and three apartment buildings in Manhattan, Mr. Neithercut had invested $1.4 billion.

“We stepped up, swallowed hard and plunged in,” said Mr. Neithercut, whose Equity Residential is the country’s biggest publicly traded REIT. “We never expected there to be a lot of opportunities out there in the marketplace.”

Equity Residential, the top apartment buyer this year, according to the research firm Real Capital Analytics, joins a list of institutional, public and private investors that are plowing money into apartments at a time when the market for most commercial real estate is flat. In the third quarter, sales of apartment buildings jumped 63 percent over the previous quarter, to $8.5 billion, according to Real Capital Analytics. Sales this year through the third quarter now stand at $18.5 billion, nearly double the same period last year. By comparison, sales through the third quarter in 2006 were $659.6 billion.

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