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Nation's Largest Multifamily Owner Branding Buildings To Create Hotel-Type Loyalty

Dave Stockert, former CEO of Post Properties

The nation's largest multifamily owner is beginning to act like a hotel operator.

Mid-Atlantic Apartment Communities, which trades publicly as MAA, launched a program to brand all of its properties last year, CoStar Group reports. MAA will attach its name prominently to its 300 apartment communities over five years, betting that the level of service it provides will help it build a strong brand association that attracts renters.

While much less common in the multifamily industry than in hotels, smartphones or apparel, branding has been growing in popularity in the apartment world. When developer Crescent Communities began leaning harder into apartment buildings in burgeoning pockets of metropolitan areas, it rebranded all such properties as Novel starting in 2017.

Even before that, Post Properties had branded its apartment communities across the southern U.S. for years before it was acquired by MAA in 2016. Dave Stockert, who served as CEO at Post for over a decade before MAA's acquisition, now serves as a director on MAA's board.

MAA's acquisition of Post helped it amass more than 100,000 apartments, mainly in the Southeast, Southwest and mid-Atlantic, making it the largest owner by unit count in the U.S. for multiple years in a row, according to data from the National Multifamily Housing Council. It owns around 15,000 units more than Morgan Properties, which rose to second place with a $1.75B portfolio acquisition in February.

Branding will likely continue to grow in the multifamily industry as the country's apartment supply becomes more institutionalized. In the last eight years, national landlords grew their share of the U.S. multifamily market from 19.2% to 29.8% as individual owners' share shrank from 43.9% to 12.9% over the same time frame, according to CoStar data.