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  • Writer's pictureAndre Watson

What $235 Million Can Buy in US Apartment Markets Near Offices With More Workers Returning

Here’s a Comparison of Large Apartment Sales in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, DC



A 464-unit apartment tower near downtown Los Angeles sold for $235 million. (CoStar)


While demand for apartments in and around major U.S. office markets fizzled early in the pandemic, investors are now willing to bet the slow return by employees to downtown workspaces will reignite their interest in living nearby.


Prices for apartment towers and complexes in some of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas often reflect how regional property markets are performing, highlighting investor confidence or foreshadowing potential risk depending on an area's job growth, anticipated layoffs, or other factors.


Prices also provide a window into what attributes buyers are seeking and what they’re willing to bet on in the face of economic uncertainty. And, of course, a building’s location, age, condition, occupancy and other characteristics also affect the price.


For investors shopping for multifamily properties, buildings in markets with improving return-to-office rates have become increasingly desirable as the populations of nearby downtowns slowly rebuild to pre-pandemic levels. While daily office occupancy remains a far cry from what it was before 2020, more companies are weaning workers off a predominantly remote schedule and are requesting — with some going so far as to mandate — more frequent in-person attendance.


Several large employers including Walt Disney, Twitter, General Motors and Goldman Sachs have ramped up efforts to bring employees back on a hybrid or entirely full-time basis, improving the outlook for demand, leasing activity and rent growth.


Here’s a subjective look at how far $235 million will go for apartment towers in bustling markets such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles

Multifamily vacancy around The Vermont apartment tower in Los Angeles dropped as more workers return to the office. (CoStar)


Address: 3150 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles Price: $235 million, or about $506,465 per unit Unit Count: 464 units Buyer: Harbor Group International, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment and management firm Seller: A joint venture between TruAmerica Multifamily Inc., a Los Angeles investment firm, and financial investment manager Principal Financial Group Proximity to Downtown: About 2 1/2 miles Year Built: 2014 Market's Return-to-Office Occupancy Rate: About 33% as of Jan. 4, according to data from Kastle Systems, up from 21.5% at year-end 2020. Fun Fact: The 18-story Vermont apartment towers are located in Los Angeles' Koreatown neighborhood, which is one of the region's most pro-development areas. Construction over the past year has boosted Koreatown's apartment supply by about 13%, according to CoStar data. Even with the increased availability, rents in the neighborhood have climbed about 2% over the same time.

Philadelphia

The 304-unit St. James Apartment tower in downtown Philadelphia sold for nearly $725,000 per unit. (CoStar)

Address: 200 W Washington Square in Philadelphia Price: $220.19 million, or about $724,300 per unit Unit Count: 304 units Buyer: The Delaware Valley Regional Center Seller: A joint venture between New York-based Clarion Partners and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Proximity to Downtown: Less than half a mile Year Built: 2004 Market's Return-to-Office Occupancy Rate: More than 32% as of Jan. 4, according to data from Kastle Systems, up from about 19% at year-end 2020. Fun Fact: The deal is one of the largest acquisitions in Philadelphia's multifamily market's history in terms of both sale and per-unit price, according to CoStar data. The per-unit price of nearly $750,000 is almost double the $385,370 per-unit average among similar multifamily sales that have closed in the downtown area over the past year.


Washington, D.C.

The Gale Eckington apartment complex in Washington, D.C., was sold to an investment firm focused on preserving affordable housing options. (CoStar)

Address: 151 Q St. NE in Washington, D.C. Price: $215.55 million, or about $357,465 per unit Unit Count: 603 units Buyer: Jonathan Rose Cos., a real estate firm focused on affordable and mixed-income multifamily housing, through a partnership with The Washington Housing Initiative Impact Pool Seller: A joint venture between JBG Smith Cos. and CBRE Investment Management Proximity to Downtown: About two miles Year Built: 2013 Market's Return-to-Office Occupancy Rate: Nearly 31% as of Jan. 4, according to data from Kastle Systems, up from 14.5% at year-end 2020. Fun Fact: Upon completing the acquisition, Jonathan Rose instituted a new 99-year affordability covenant with the District of Columbia to phase in rent and income restrictions at 60% of area median income on 48 units and 80% AMI at 302 units. There is also a rent increase cap of 3% year-over-year for all current residents.

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