08/13/2013 | by
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Twenty years ago, apartment REIT Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR) held its initial public offering (IPO). Within eight years, it became the first apartment company to be listed in the S&P 500.

Among the company’s accomplishments in the past two decades, David Neithercut, Equity Residential’s president and CEO, acknowledges that he’s especially pleased with the company’s returns and dedication to corporate governance.

“Equity Residential is very proud to have delivered an annualized return of close to 14 percent to our shareholders since our IPO twenty years ago,” he said.  “As the public real estate industry grew and evolved since the early 1990s and the beginning of the modern REIT era, we are also proud of the role played by Equity Residential as a leader in corporate governance.”

Equity Residential’s board of directors has implemented corporate governance policies that include measures such as trustees standing for election each year. Shareholders have the ability to call for special meetings and recommend trustee candidates to the board.

Having witnessed a sea of changes since going public, Neithercut said technology has had the biggest effect on the industry.

“Over the last 20 years, there have been numerous ways that the multifamily industry has changed, but none more significant than the way we have embraced technology to create top-flight property management platforms,” he said. “As a result, we have increased visibility into our business, allowing better and more real-time decision making while reducing operating costs.”

While the company has worked to make sure it keeps up with technological changes, it remains focused on the importance of location, according to Neithercut. He maintains that a location in a high-density urban environment is the most important amenity that Equity can offer its residents.

Additionally, Neithercut said the company’s properties with smaller units, which are often occupied by a single resident, offer amenities such as concierge services and common spaces that include resident lounges, rooftops, fitness rooms and business centers. 

Equity owns 416 properties in 13 states and Washington, D.C. Looking ahead, Neithercut noted that demand for apartment space is strong across all of its markets.

“While new supply will be an issue in certain markets in the short term, favorable demographics will create continued demand for high-quality multifamily housing that will not be fully met by new supply,” he said. “As a result, fundamentals will remain strong, and we expect to continue to enjoy above-trend growth for many years to come.”