San Diego-based R&V Management Corp. owns and manages more than 7,000 apartments in San Diego County and recently picked up 644 more.
The 30-year-old firm's latest acquisition is the 644-unit Greenfield Village Apartments on Otay Mesa that R&V acquired from a unit of New Jersey-based Garden Communities for $150 million within the past week.
The property was developed by Garden Communities about two years ago.
Garden Communities is headed by Minnesota Vikings owner Zygmunt Wilf, who signed the transaction documents.
Ed Rosen, John Chu and Kyle Pinkalla of Cushman & Wakefield represented the buyer and the seller in the transaction, which was the most expensive sale since the 549-unit Coronado Bay Club Apartments were sold to Alliance Residential for more than $160 million at the end of last year.
R&V assumed a $100.23 million Wells Fargo Bank (NYSE: WFC) loan when it bought Greenfield Village for about $233,000 per unit.
The 15-building property at 5540 Ocean Gate Lane has an array of features such as a movie theater, gym, two pools, a spa and a Wi-Fi-enabled business center. The complex is on roughly 22 acres.
Greenfield Village offers one to four-bedroom floor plans with rents ranging from $1,310 to $2,450 -- rents that are setting new heights for the Otay Mesa market.
"It's very much setting the standard," Chu said. "The property was purchased below replacement cost and it is in an up-and-coming area."
Chu added that "R&V is probably the premier multifamily company in the county."
Gerry Ranglas, R&V president, said the Greenfield acquisition was coupled with a decision to sell about 600 apartments in four complexes in Imperial Beach, Nestor, La Mesa and Chula Vista, the last of which is still in escrow.
Ranglas declined to offer details about those other projects other than the Chula Vista complex is part of a reverse exchange.
Ranglas said Greenfield Village and R&V's total portfolio are each about 95 percent occupied.
The Rosen, Chu and Pinkalla team have represented R&V before. The team also represented R&V as the buyer and Garden Communities as the seller in the $91 million sale of the 412-unit Legacy Apartment Homes on Hillery Drive in the Scripps Ranch area in June 2012.
The Legacy Apartment Homes had a 3.9 percent vacancy at the time of CoStar's survey within the past month. This is well within the industry's 5 percent vacancy standard for a balanced market
In addition, Cushman & Wakefield multifamily brokers Rosen and Chu, while at what was then Burnham Real Estate Services, handled the purchase of the 346-unit Casolei development with the Ocean View Hills masterplan on Otay Mesa on behalf of R&V in January 2004. The price was $58.5 million.
John Moores' JMI Realty built that complex and is also the seller. Moores is the former San Diego Padres owner.
Ranglas said his strategy is a simple one: "Find anything that is 15 years or younger that has more than 100 units."
R&V isn't restricting its business to the acquisition of existing apartments. The firm announced last week that it has teamed up with Wermers Properties to acquire a 7.4-acre parcel within the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch in the Carmel Valley area.
Plans for the Pacific Highlands Ranch development include 331 apartments, 175,000 square feet of retail/dining space, a resort-style pool, dog park, pet grooming facilities and a fourth-floor roof deck.
Construction of the development is slated to begin in late 2015 with occupancy targeted for the spring of 2017.
Ranglas, who is teamed with the Vassilidis family -- which puts the "V" in R&V -- said he intends to continue to focus exclusively on San Diego County.
"We like the San Diego rental market," Ranglas said adding that its high barriers to entry makes it particularly strong.
Ranglas said brokerage firms such as Cushman & Wakefield bring prospective properties to his attention and that he hasn't had to go out and search for them himself.
Although apartment REITs go after the same kinds of apartment complexes that R&V does, Ranglas says the disadvantage that REITs have is "that any decision needs to go up the chain of command."
R&V, while known for its thousands of apartments, dabbles in retail properties as well.
R&V has partial ownership interests in such properties as the Scripps Ranch Marketplace and Terra Nova Plaza in Chula Vista.