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Close-up: Chuck Hoffman

Teamwork, flexibility keys to Apartment Consultants' success

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When it comes to investing in multifamily real estate, few counties in the United States compare to San Diego.

Four major universities, a large military and defense industry, the third largest concentration of biotech companies in the United States, a major port, and more or less perfect weather for year-round fun in the sun all equate to a diverse, changing and growing population of people that need places to live.

Given today's climate of ballooning mortgages and foreclosures, renting has obvious appeal.

With the subprime meltdown, the apartments sector "will not fluctuate much and might improve," said Chuck Hoffman, president and CEO of Apartment Consultants Inc. (ACI).

The brokerage firm, which specializes in apartment and investment property transactions, earned $3.4 million in revenue in 2007 and projects $3.23 million in revenue for 2008, according to Office Manager Brittany Anderson.

ACI closes an average of 140 escrows per year, making it a local leader in income property sales from conventional apartment transactions to condo conversions, tenant-in-common and triple net transactions.

Hoffman's team, representing buyers and sellers of investment real estate, closed $179.2 million in sales in 2006, including $150.22 million in local sales, according to the company. The team leaders, all of whom are equal shareholders in the company, average 20 years of experience in investment and sales.

Working both independently and collectively -- including aggressive marketing with local brokers -- the ACI team helps clients to achieve the highest sale prices.

Senior Vice President and Principal Allen Chitayat said Hoffman's management and leadership have kept the team solid, with very low turnover: "Most who have left were either getting out of the business or retiring."

Hoffman, who co-founded ACI in 1982, looks for "positive attitude, persistence and people skills" in his core group and all who work for ACI. "It's more than just making money," he said. "It's about having a better understanding of what the client needs."

The collective experience of ACI includes apartment ownership, management and development. The team has extensive credentials and recognitions, including a winner of the San Diego County Investment Transaction of the Year, former treasurer of the State Apartment Association and instructors of ethics, agency and professional standards for Realtors.

"We're individual in a very large sense but we also like the cohesiveness of the company," Chitayat said.

The team doesn't always agree on everything, said Chitayat. Sometimes they have "diametrically opposed agendas," he said, "and somebody has to bring it all back together."

As president, Hoffman leads but gives his team room to work and grow in their field of expertise.

"You've got a bunch of type A personalities," Chitayat explained, "and yet (Hoffman) manages to be a voice of reason."

In the ever-changing real estate market, the team's flexibility defines ACI's success.

"They work very hard," said Anderson. "(Hoffman) is very knowledgeable and always available to talk if you have questions," she said.

ACI employees get to know their clients to create a plan to meet investment goals. Whether buyers are looking to make a smaller purchase of less than 20 units or to buy multimillion-dollar properties, ACI commits equally to meeting each individual's goals.

From first-time buyers to banks and corporations, ACI focuses on building wealth for clients through market analysis and research. By offering its trademarked "Same Day Market Exposure," ACI supports sellers quickly, listing properties and networking through the Internet, Multiple Listing Service, and immediate contact with brokers.

Hoffman has been the past president of the San Diego Association of Realtors, the San Diego County Apartment Association and the California Apartment Association. During the last 30 years in real estate, has created substantial wealth for himself. One of his favorite things to do with his family is to go exploring in his own private aircraft.

He has achieved his personal goals by meeting his clients' needs, he said.

And his business philosophy for ACI states clearly: "Your success is our success."

Chung Klam is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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