UDR, Inc. ( UDR ), a leading multifamily real estate investment trust (REIT), has recently acquired '1301 Thomas Circle' - a 292-unit luxury apartment community in Washington, D.C., through its joint venture with Kuwait Finance House, an Islamic Sharia-compliant bank. The purchase price of $154 million was funded through a 5-year $90.0 million interest-only loan from Fannie Mae, a 70% equity contribution from Kuwait Finance House to the tune of $44.8 million, and a 30% equity contribution by UDR totaling $19.2 million.
Developed in 2006, '1301 Thomas Circle' is a 10-story apartment community that is presently 94% occupied with an average income per occupied home of $2,740 per month. The property is strategically located in close proximity to the Mt. Vernon Square and McPherson Metro Stations, and is about 1 mile from the White House.
The apartment community features several enticing amenities such as a rooftop swimming pool, a fully equipped fitness center, clubhouse, private courtyard, business center, and controlled access to an on-site 256-space parking garage. The residential units include studio, 1-, 2- and 3- bedroom apartment homes with an average space of 852 square feet.
The acquisition has enabled UDR to augment its portfolio in and around Washington, D.C. - one of the premium multifamily apartment markets in the country. With the current purchase, UDR will own 21 communities comprising 5,934 apartment homes in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. market.
The acquired property also provides an opportunity to increase UDR's revenue through fees and promotes earned through its joint venture partner. Since its formation in 2009, the joint venture has acquired 3 operating communities containing 660 homes in metropolitan Washington, D.C., for a total investment of $281 million.
UDR is among the best-positioned apartment REITs in the U.S., with the majority of its portfolio located in California, Florida and on the Atlantic Coast. These are areas where housing costs have soared in the past few years, and despite the drop in home values, the rental-versus-ownership spread still remains high. The housing meltdown will continue to help apartment REITs like UDR and we expect this sector to remain comparatively stable in the coming quarters as well.
Furthermore, UDR has a geographic diversification that increases investment opportunity and decreases the risk associated with cyclical local real estate markets and economies, thereby increasing the stability and predictability of earnings.
UDR has also continuously upgraded the overall quality of its portfolio by selling assets in smaller market, older properties and replacing them with newer assets in better long-term markets. This provides an upside potential for the company.
We maintain our 'Neutral' recommendation on UDR, which currently retains a Zacks #2 Rank that translates into a short-term 'Buy' rating. We also have a 'Neutral' rating and a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term 'Hold') for Equity Residential ( EQR ), one of the competitors of UDR.