About Equity Residential

Equity Residential is one of the largest apartment owners in the US. The company acquires, develops, and manages multifamily residential units in the form of garden-style, high-rise, and mid-rise properties. A real estate investment trust (REIT), the company wholly owns some 300 multifamily communities composed of nearly 78,000 rentable units. It owns them along the US east and west coasts in large metropolitan areas such as San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. Its desired market characteristics include a large urban-lifestyle demographic, high density housing, and constrained supply.


Equity Residential’s primary operations are the ownership, development, leasing, and management of its residential real estate portfolio. It pursues these operations as the sole owner of roughly 90% of its properties and as shared owner for the remaining.

The REIT manages its portfolio by divesting and acquiring existing properties and developing new ones to achieve the desired mix of location, risk, and opportunity. Beginning in 2015, Equity Residential began divesting some of its real estate, shrinking its unit count from about 110,000 to 78,000.

The company’s operations focus is on balancing occupancy and rental rates to maximize its revenue. It attracts and leases to qualified renters, provides amenable services to ensure tenant satisfaction remains after move-in, and employs tight tracking and control of expenses.

Roughly 70% of its net operating income comes from its mid-rise and high-rise holdings.

Geographic Reach

Based in Chicago, IL, Equity Residential operates property management offices in each of its markets. The company’s core markets are San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., Southern California, Boston, and Seattle.

In 2016, the REIT sold off properties and exited markets in South Florida and Denver and sold its US-based military housing.

Sales and Marketing

Equity Residential follows a specific set of criteria to identify its target markets. It seeks opportunities located in high-density urban areas where competitive supply is constrained, home ownership is expensive, long-term appreciation of rents is likely, and demographics favor young, educated, highly-paid professionals. Its primary US coastal markets meet the REIT’s criteria and the firm periodically repositions its holdings to fine-tune them towards its market criteria.

Financial Performance

Equity Residential's revenues and profits trended higher over the past few years as it expanded its property portfolio and charged higher rental rates as the economy strengthened. Financial results in 2016 indicate a notable change to this trend.

Revenue dipped for the first time since 2011, generating $2.4 billion in 2016, a 12% decline compared to 2015, in part due to lower collected rents stemming from the sale of nearly 100 properties in early 2016. Rental occupancy in its remaining properties held steady at 96% while average rental rates increased just under 4%.

Despite the fall in revenue, net income rocketed higher on the sale of the REIT’s South Florida and Denver holdings. In 2016, earnings were $4.3 billion compared to $860 million in the prior year. The divestitures accounted for $3.7 billion of the gain, which was somewhat muted by higher debt extinguishment.

Cash on hand at the end of 2016 was $77 million, roughly $35 million higher than at 2015 year end. However, a lot of cash changed hands in 2016, such as the $6.9 billion used for financing activities, including a $4.8 billion distribution to shareholders and a $1.5 billion debt payoff. That use was offset by $1.1 billion provided by operating activities and $5.9 billion generated by investing activities (primarily from the large real estate sales).


Equity Residential has repositioned its portfolio from low barrier to entry/non-core markets to high barrier to entry/core markets in recent years. The company acquired 68,000-plus apartment units in its core markets for roughly $20 billion since 2005, and has sold more than 198,000 apartment units primarily in its non-core markets for an aggregate sales price of some $23.5 billion. Additionally, the company has about $5.7 billion worth of projects under development in its pipeline. The 2016 disposition of its South Florida and Denver assets substantially completed the company’s long-term portfolio transformation.

The REIT is banking on the Millennial generation for whom it believes home ownership is no longer an integral part of their American dream. Millennials are more likely to rent than own a home and be renters for longer than previous generations. Members of this generation also value the ability to walk to work, restaurants, coffee shops, public transportation, and parks. Equity Residential’s multifamily housing often caters to those needs.

The company looks to opportunistically acquire and develop assets in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Southern California (including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego), Seattle, and Washington DC. As part of its strategy, Equity Residential purchases completed and fully occupied apartment properties, as well as partially completed or partially occupied properties or land on which it can construct apartment properties.

In early 2016, Equity Residential sold a $5.365 billion- institutional-quality portfolio of 23,262 mid-rise and garden-style apartment buildings in 72 communities in South Florida, Denver, and parts of New England to Starwood Capital.

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Equity Residential

2 N Riverside Plz Ste 1100
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: 1 (312) 474-1300
Fax: 1 (312) 454-0438


  • Employer Type: Public
  • Stock Symbol: EQR
  • Stock Exchange: NYSE
  • EVP and COO: David S. Santee
  • Vice Chairman: Gerald A. Spector
  • Chairman: Samuel Zell
  • 2016 Employees: 2,700

Major Office Locations

  • Chicago, IL

Other Locations

  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Anaheim, CA
  • Berkeley, CA
  • Burlingame, CA
  • Campbell, CA
  • Chatsworth, CA
  • Chino Hills, CA
  • Corona, CA
  • Dublin, CA
  • East Palo Alto, CA
  • Emeryville, CA
  • Foothill Ranch, CA
  • Foster City, CA
  • Fremont, CA
  • Glendale, CA
  • Hermosa Beach, CA
  • Huntington Beach, CA
  • Irvine, CA
  • Laguna Hills, CA
  • Laguna Niguel, CA
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Marina Del Rey, CA
  • Milpitas, CA
  • Mission Viejo, CA
  • North Hollywood, CA
  • Oak Park, CA
  • Ontario, CA
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Pasadena, CA
  • Playa Del Rey, CA
  • Pleasant Hill, CA
  • Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Rcho Sta Marg, CA
  • Redwood City, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • San Mateo, CA
  • San Ramon, CA
  • Santa Clara, CA
  • Santa Clarita, CA
  • Santa Monica, CA
  • Solana Beach, CA
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Union City, CA
  • Valencia, CA
  • Aurora, CO
  • Boulder, CO
  • Centennial, CO
  • Denver, CO
  • Highlands Ranch, CO
  • Lakewood, CO
  • Farmington, CT
  • Norwalk, CT
  • Rocky Hill, CT
  • Stamford, CT
  • Washington, DC
  • Aventura, FL
  • Boynton Beach, FL
  • Coconut Creek, FL
  • Coral Gables, FL
  • Coral Springs, FL
  • Dania, FL
  • Dania Beach, FL
  • Davie, FL
  • Deerfield Beach, FL
  • Delray Beach, FL
  • Miami, FL
  • Miramar, FL
  • Pembroke Pines, FL
  • Plantation, FL
  • Royal Palm Beach, FL
  • South Miami, FL
  • Sunrise, FL
  • Wellington, FL
  • Winter Springs, FL
  • Boston, MA
  • Braintree, MA
  • Burlington, MA
  • Cambridge, MA
  • Fall River, MA
  • Franklin, MA
  • Quincy, MA
  • Waltham, MA
  • West Roxbury, MA
  • Bethesda, MD
  • Hyattsville, MD
  • Waldorf, MD
  • Hoboken, NJ
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • South Plainfield, NJ
  • West New York, NJ
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • New York, NY
  • Tarrytown, NY
  • Westerville, OH
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Arlington, VA
  • Falls Church, VA
  • Bellevue, WA
  • Bothell, WA
  • Kirkland, WA
  • Lynnwood, WA
  • Mill Creek, WA
  • Mukilteo, WA
  • Redmond, WA
  • Seattle, WA
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