As the saying goes, the numbers don’t lie. And in the multifamily construction industry, the figures are telling a story of robust and opportunistic growth in 2011. A look at new starts reveals that developers were eager to add new supply to meet the existing demand for rental properties last year. It seems confidence has returned and developers are realizing this rental trend is going to be around for a while. The increased volume in new units for 2011 proves it.

In Builder’s sister publication Multifamily Executive’s top 50 multifamily builders list last year, only the top 24 builders had 1,000 new starts or more. On this year’s list, however, each of the top 40 builders broke ground on at least 1,000 new units. This is the first time since 2007 that so many companies have broken the 1,000 mark.

While 2010 leader Marlton, N.J.–based The Michaels Development Co. didn’t make the cut, and several other high-rankers have dropped in the ranks, some familiar names were happy to step up and take their places. Marietta, Ga.–based Wood Partners and Phoenix-based Alliance Residential Co. hurdled last year’s top builders to claim the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively. Previously, they were ranked No. 9 and No. 10. Alliance, whose main focus in 2011 was on Texas metros and coastal markets, expects another strong year in 2012 and will expand its efforts to new regions. “We see more markets having recovered to a point that select new development is feasible, including markets such as Tampa, Fla., Phoenix, and Denver,” says Alliance’s CFO Jay Hiemenz.

2011 Builder 100

But Alliance is not the only builder breaking ground in new markets. Cleveland-based The NRP Group (No. 8) will be making its presence felt in the Florida multifamily arena, with attention placed on market-rate properties. “In 2011 we thought we’d see more new starts from affordable housing and less from market-rate. It turns out there was more opportunity on the market-rate side. And 2012 is shaping up to be the same story,” says David Heller, a principal at The NRP Group. The company expects more than 3,000 new starts this year, making it among the more active builders in 2012.

San Antonio–based Galaxy Builders (No. 38) has consistently remained in the top 50 thanks to its ability to maintain strong client relationships and its firm Texas roots, where growth was abundant this past year. This is the company’s fifth consecutive year on the top builders list, and this year it increased its new starts by 74 percent. Other notable moves on this year’s list include Chicago-based AMLI Residential, which went from 32nd last year to seventh in 2011 starts. And Houston-based REIT Camden Property Trust jumped from No. 38 last year to take the final spot in the top 10 on this year’s list, increasing new starts more than 260 percent.

The projected new starts in 2012 for some of the industry’s most prolific builders prove that this resurgence in construction is not going away any time soon. The numbers appear to be working their way back toward pre-recession levels, and the outlook appears bright for at least the next few years. Dallas-based Mill Creek Residential Trust (No. 9), the new development spin-off of Trammell Crow Residential, leads the pack in projected starts for 2012 with 6,900—more than double the number of new units it built in 2011. According to the company’s CEO, Charles Brindell, Mill Creek is very bullish that the market growth trend that’s occurring will continue for the foreseeable future.

“I do believe that most markets will continue to be undersupplied for the next few years. Our core markets exhibit very strong demand fundamentals,” says Brindell.

Mill Creek expects to break ground on new units in regions such as Denver, Washington, D.C., Southern California, New England, and several Texas metro areas, where Brindell believes demand will remain strong thanks to a combination of high-barrier and high-growth markets.

High demand for rental property has been tied very closely to regions that are experiencing job growth this year. Arlington, Va.–based AvalonBay’s (No. 4) director of investor relations, John Christie, is keeping a close eye on job growth in 2012 as a critical factor in keeping apartment demand high in the coming year. “Job growth has been sluggish until about a month ago,” says Christie. “There has been a lot of help from job growth in our core markets. There’s no supply, so our occupancy rate is steady and we can generate pricing power,” he adds. The more than 4,300 new units projected this year for AvalonBay also makes the REIT one of the multifamily developers to watch in the coming months.

Not surprisingly, nearly every company in this year’s top 20 is headquartered in one of the top 10 apartment markets in terms of sales volume in 2011, according to a “U.S. Capital Trends” report from Real Capital Analytics.

Derek Mearns is an associate editor with Multifamily Executive magazine.

The 2011 Top 50 Multifamily Builders
Rank
('10 Rank)
Company/CEO/Address
2011 Rental Starts
(vs. '10 starts)
2011 Revenue
(In millions)
What they built
Region
1
(9)
Wood Partners
Ryan Dearborn / 1110 Northchase Pkwy., Suite 150,
Marietta, GA 30067 / 404-965-9945 / www.woodpartners.com
3,732
84%
N/AMRWest, South, Northeast, Midwest
2
(10)
Alliance Residential Co.
Bruce Ward / 2415 E. Camelback Rd., Suite 600, Phoenix, AZ
85016 / 602-778-2800 / www.allresco.com
3,600
84%
N/AMRWest, Southwest, South
3
(-)
Wermers Cos.
Thomas Wermers / 5120 Shoreham Place, Suite
150, San Diego, CA 92122 / 858-535-1475 / www.wermerscompanies.com
3,200
n/a
N/AAFF, MRWest
4
(3)
AvalonBay Communities (p)
Tim Naughton / 671 N. Glebe Rd., Suite 800, Arlington,
VA 22203 / 703-329-6300 / www.avalonbay.com
3,071
26%
$972AFF, MRWest, Northeast, South
5
(23)
Irvine Co. Apartment Communities
Kevin Baldridge /110 Innovation Dr., Irvine, CA 92617 /
949-720-5600 / www.rental-living.com
3,047
184%
N/AMRWest
6
(2)
Clark Builders Group
Glenn Ferguson / 4401 Wilson Blvd., Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22203 / 703-294-4500 / www.clarkbuildersgroup.com
2,956
8%
N/AMR, MILWest, South
7
(32)
AMLI Residential
Greg Mutz / 200 W. Monroe, Suite 2200, Chicago, IL 60606 / 312-283-4700 / www.amli.com
2,777
299%
$256MRSouthwest, Midwest, South
8
(11)
The NRP Group
Alan F. Scott; J. David Heller; T. Richard Baile / 5309 Transportation Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44125 / 216-475-8900 /
2,692
39%
$70AFF, MR, AL, ILSouthwest, Midwest, Northeast, South
9
(-)
Mill Creek Residential Trust
Charlie R. Brindell Jr. / 2001 Bryan St., Suite 3275, Dallas, TX 75201 / 214-922-8500 / www.mcrtrust.com
2,662
n/a
$110MRWest, Northeast, South
10
(38)
Camden Property Trust (p)
Richard J. Campo / 3 Greenway Plaza, Suite 1300, Houston, TX 77046 / 713-354-2500 / www.camdenliving.com
2,190
261%
$665MRSouthwest, South
11
(22)
The Bozzuto Group
Thomas S. Bozzuto / 7850 Walker Dr., Suite 400, Greenbelt, MD 20770 / 301-220-0100 / www.bozzuto.com
2,141
99%
$110AFF, MR, ALNortheast, South
12
(—)
AEW Capital Management
Jeffrey D. Furber / Two Seaport Lane, Boston, MA 02210 /
617-261-9000 / www.aew.com
2,126
n/a
N/AMR, AL, ILWest, Midwest, Northeast, South
13
(—)
Greystar Real Estate Partners
Robert A. Faith / 18 Broad St., 3rd Floor, Charleston, SC
29401 / 843-579-9400 / www.greystar.com
2,030
n/a
N/AMRSouthwest, South
14
(—)
Thompson Thrift Construction
John Thompson / 901 Wabash Ave., Suite 300, Terre Haute, IN 47807 / 812-235-5959 / www.thompsonthrifit.com
2,016
n/a
$87AFF, MRSouthwest, Midwest, South
15
(—)
Equity Residential (p)
David J. Neithercut / 2 N. Riverside Plaza, Suite 450, Chicago, IL 60606 / 312-474-1300 / www.equityapartments.com
2,000
339%
$1,989MRWest, South
16
(—)
Gables ResidentiaL
David Fitch / 3399 Peachtree Rd. N.E., Suite 600, Atlanta, GA 30326 / 404-923-5500 / www.gables.com
1,945
1,521%
$209MRSouthwest, South
17
(5)
Western National Group
Michael K. Hayde / 8 Executive Circle, Irvine, CA 92614 /
949-862-6200 / www.wng.com
1,926
-14%
$350MRWest, Southwest
18
(—)
Samet Corp.
Arthur L. Samet / 309 Gallimore Dairy Rd., Suite 102, Greensboro, NC 27409 / 336-544-2600 / www.sametcorp.com
1,913
n/a
$73AFF, MR, SH, ALSouth
19
(25)
UDR (p)
Thomas W. Toomey / 1745 Shea Center Dr., Suite 200, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129 / 720-283-6120 / www.udr.com
1,870
101%
$731MRWest, Southwest, South
20
(12)
Harkins Builders
Richard Lombardo / 2201 Warwick Way, Marriottsville, MD 21104 / 410-750-2600 / www.harkinsbuilders.com
1,814
-1%
$181AFF, MR, MIL, SH, AL, ILNortheast
21
(14)
CF Jordan Construction
Mark Lear / 7700 C.F. Jordan Dr., El Paso, TX 79912 /
915-532-5004 / www.cfjordan.com
1,790
11%
$111AFF, MR, SHSouthwest, South
22
(—)
Fortune-Johnson
Brett Fortune / 3740 Davinci Court, Suite 220, Norcross, GA 30092 / 770-458-5899 / www.fortunejohnson.com
1,766
359%
$928MR, SHNortheast, South
23
(—)
The Dinerstein Cos.
Jack Dinerstein / 3411 Richmond Ave., Suite 200, Houston, TX 77046 / 832-209-1200 / www.dinersteincompanies.com
1,709
44%
N/AMR, SHWest, Southwest, South
24
(—)
BBL Builders 
Mark Bette / 15770 N. Dallas Pkwy., Suite 300, Tollway Towers North, Dallas, TX 75248 / 972-869-1808 / www.bblbuilders.com
1,706
869%
$50AFF, MR, SHSouthwest, Midwest, Northeast
25
(8)
McShane Construction Co.
Jeffrey A. Raday / 9550 W. Higgins Rd., Suite 200, Rosemont, IL 60018 / 847-292-4300 / www.mcshane-construction.com
1,696
-19%
N/AAFF, MR, AL, ILMidwest, Southwest, South
26
(6)
Pinnacle Family of Cos.
Rick L. Graf / 5055 Keller Springs Rd., Suite 400, Addison, TX 75001 / 214-891-1402 / www.pinnaclefamily.com
1,571
-27%
N/AAFF, MRWest, Southwest, South
27
(—)
Watermark Residential
Eric Garrett / 101 W. Ohio St., Suite 2000, Indianapolis, IN
46204 / 317-454-8028 / www.watermark-residential
1,546
n/a
N/AMRMidwest, Southwest, South
28
(15)
Construction EnterpriseS
Bill Landers / 325 Seaboard Lane, Suite 170, Franklin, TN
37067 / 615-332-8880 / www.constructionenterprises.com
1,518
-5%
$103MR, SHMidwest, South
29
(—)
Hunt Cos.
Woody L. Hunt / 4401 N. Mesa, El Paso, TX 79902 /
915-533-1122 / www.huntcompanies.com
1,492
n/a
$603MR, MILWest, Southwest
30
(—)
Dominium
Armand Brachman / 2905 Northwest Blvd., Suite 150, Plymouth, MN 55441 / 763-354-5500 / www.dominiumapartments.com
1,484
649%
$212AFF, MRMidwest, Southwest
31
(19)
Archstone
R. Scot Sellers / 9200 E. Panorama Circle, Suite 400, Englewood, CO 80112 / 303-708-5959 / www.archstoneapartments.com
1,372
18%
N/AAFF, MRWest, Southwest, South
32
(—)
Essex Property Trust (p)
Michael J. Schall / 925 E. Meadow Dr., Palo Alto, CA 94303 / 650-494-3700 / www.essexpropertytrust.com
1,371
n/a
$457MRWest
33
(24)
Summit Contractors GrouP
Bob Fleckenstien / 6877 Phillips Industrial Blvd., Jacksonville , FL 32256 / 904-268-5500 / www.summitcontractors.com
1,350
26%
$50AFF, MR, ALSouth
34
(44)
The Related GrouP
Jorge Perez / 315 S. Biscayne Blvd., 4th Floor, Miami, FL 33131 / 305-460-9900 / www.relatedgroup.com
1,307
145%
$1,007AFF, MRSouth
35
(13)
A.G. Spanos Cos.
Dean A. Spanos / 10100 Trinity Pkwy., 5th Floor, Stockton, CA 95219 / 209-478-7954 / www.agspanos.com
1,235
-28%
N/AMRWest, Midwest, South
36
(—)
Asset Plus Cos.
Michael S. McGrath / 675 Bering Dr., Suite 200, Houston, TX 77057 / 713-782-5800 / www.assetpluscorp.com
1,226
363%
N/AMR, SHWest, Midwest, Southwest, Northeast, South
37
(21)
Weis Builders
Jay Weis / 7645 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55423 /
612-243-5000 / www.weisbuilders.com
1,166
5%
$132AFF, MR, SH, IL,
AL
Midwest, Southwest
38
(36)
Galaxy BuilderS
Arun K. Verma / 4729 College Park, San Antonio, TX 78249 / 210-493-0550 / www.thegalaxycompanies.com
1,088
74%
$43AFF, MR, ALSouthwest
39
(27)
American Campus Communities (p)
Bill Bayless / 12700 Hill Country Blvd., Suite T-200, Austin, TX 78738 / 512-732-1000 / www.americancampus.com
1,066
32%
$375SHWest, Midwest, Southwest, South, Northeast
40
(48)
Colonial Properties Trust (p)
Thomas H. Lowder / 2101 Sixth Ave. N., Suite 750, Birmingham, AL 35203 / 205-250-8700 / www.colonialprop.com
1,014
109%
$336MRSouthwest, South
41
(33)
Jefferson Apartment GrouP
Jim Butz / 1420 Springhill Rd., Suite 420, McLean, VA 22102 / 703-563-5200 / www.jeffersonapartmentgroup.com
960
40%
N/AMRNortheast, South
42
(35)
Post Properties (p)
David P. Stockert / 4401 Northside Pkwy., Suite 800, Atlanta, GA 30327 / 404-846-5000 / www.postproperties.com
926
44%
$304MRSouthwest, South
43
(28)
The Woda Group
Jeffrey J. Woda / 229 Huber Village Blvd., Suite 100, Westerville, OH 43081 / 614-396-3200 / www.wodagroup.com
924
19%
$562AFF, MRNortheast, Midwest, South
44
(29)
McCormack Baron SalazaR
Kevin J. McCormack / 720 Olive St., Suite 2500, St. Louis, MO 63101 / 314-621-3400 / www.mccormackbaron.com
895
21%
N/AAFF, MRWest, Midwest, Southwest, South, Northeast
45
(50)
Flaherty & Collins Properties
David Flaherty / 8900 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1200, Indianapolis, IN 46240 / 317-816-9300 / www.flahertycollins.com
891
86%
$238AFF, MRMidwest
46
(—)
Berkshire Property Advisors
George Krupp / 1 Beacon St., Suite 1500, Boston, MA 02108 / 617-646-2300 / www.berkshirepropertyadvisors.com
834
216%
$318MRMidwest, South
47
(—)
Village Green Holding
Jonathan Holtzman / 30833 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 300, Farmington Hills, MI 48334 / 248-851-9600 / www.villagegreen.com
827
164%
N/AMRMidwest
48
(7)
Carlisle Development Group
Matthew Greer / 2950 S.W. 27 Ave., Suite 200, Miami, FL
33133 / 305-476-8118 / www.carlisledevelopmentgroup.com
737
-65%
N/AAFF, AL, ILSouth
49
(—)
Doster Construction Co.
Walton C. Doster / 2100 International Park Dr., Birmingham, AL 35243 / 205-443-3800 / www.dosterconstruction.com
722
74%
$36MRSouth
50
(—)
The Bainbridge Cos.
Richard Schechter / 12765 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 1307, Wellington, FL 33414 / 561-333-3669 / www.bainbridgecompanies.com
713
226%
$116MR, SHSouthwest, South
(p)
Public
N/A
Declined to share revenue numbers
AFF=Affordable/Subsidized AL=Assisted living IL=Independent living
MIL=Military MR=Market rate SH=Student housing

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA, Los Angeles, CA, Washington, DC, Phoenix, AZ, Indianapolis, IN.