The quality of commercial real estate (CRE) asset management can significantly impact the value and profitability of your property asset or portfolio. In fact, the difference between a good CRE investment and a great one often boils down to the asset management backing it.
Whether you're a seasoned investor or a newcomer, knowing who the major players are can help you shape your investment strategy. In this guide, we’re exploring eight of the best CRE asset management firms in the United States based on their volume of real estate assets managed.
Read on to discover the unique strengths and global reach that make these firms the go-to choices for savvy CRE investors.
What is Asset Management in Commercial Real Estate?
Asset management is the process of building up wealth through the purchase, upkeep, and trading of investments that have potential for appreciation. In CRE, assets consist of properties both large and small. As this sector involves unique challenges and opportunities, specialized asset management firms are necessary.
So, in short, the goals of asset management are to increase the value of a client's financial portfolio while reducing risk.
The primary goals of good asset management in CRE are:
- Enhancing a property's income-generating potential
- Optimizing operational efficiency & reducing expenses
- Mitigating risks
Secondary goals include:
- Increasing rental income
- Minimizing vacancies
- Ensuring that the property aligns with the investor's long-term objectives
Criteria for Selection
According to experts, asset management is as important as the investment itself as it can have a direct impact on profitability. There are a few factors to consider, and you need to know where to start.
In this list, we’ve used the firm’s real estate ‘assets under management’ (AUM) as our main ranking factor – starting with the biggest. Firms with a larger AUM likely have multiple, diverse portfolios, and years of experience. Note that AUM is not a static figure, as firms purchase new properties and divest of old ones regularly. We’ve used a recent 2023 INREV fund manager survey to base our figures on.
It’s essential to do your own due diligence and supplement this with your research. To help you with that, we’ve expanded on the information to help you understand each firm’s reputation for customer service and positive brand perception. Being able to offer a wide range of services like property management, leasing, development, and financial analysis is essential to meet the specific needs of investors and their properties.
We’ve considered these multiple dimensions in this guide to bring you a list of firms that excel across the board and not only with their AUMs.
8 of the Best CRE Asset Management Firms in the US
It’s worth noting that while the top three have remained in pretty much the same position over the last few years, the rankings can fluctuate over time.
As such, AUM is just one kind of measure and not the last word over whether you should pick one firm over another.
Without further ado, let’s unpack each of the companies.
A leader in global asset management, Blackstone has a diverse portfolio of real estate covering many industries in the United States. Blackstone has established itself as the market leader by making ground-breaking investments in multifamily and logistics buildings. It ranks among the best asset management companies in the world thanks to its sizable AUM which sits at around $1 trillion (real estate and other assets).
With 40 years of asset management experience, more than 12,600 real estate assets and over 230 portfolio companies, Blackstone has demonstrated success in the CRE investment environment.
2. Brookfield Asset Management
Brookfield Asset Management has a large presence in the United States, where it has some key investments including infrastructure and renewable energy in addition to real estate. Its global influence spans several continents, tallying up a real estate AUM of $272 billion.
Brookfield’s success in managing some of the world’s biggest real estate portfolios is what really sets it apart. Projects include large-scale developments like the $5 billion mixed-use Manhattan West precinct in New York City. The company's global reach and in-depth knowledge make it an undeniable force in CRE asset management.
Prologis is a global leader in logistics and industrial real estate. It boasts a formidable presence in the worldwide market, particularly in the United States. With a track record of dominating the logistics real estate sector, Prologis has earned its spot on our list of industry giants.
What makes Prologis noteworthy is its expertise in catering to the needs of the logistics industry. It’s successfully leveraged the e-commerce boom, and as businesses increasingly rely on efficient supply chain networks, Prologis remains at the forefront. It’s also on the list of ‘Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World’.
4. PGIM Real Estate
A premier asset management company with a strong presence in the United States and across the globe, PGIM specializes in a diverse range of investments. These include real estate, agriculture, private equity, and impact investment. The company has a coveted spot on our list thanks to its steady performance and dedication to responsible risk management. It currently has an AUM of $210 billion.
PGIM is a dependable option for investors looking for stability and long-term financial growth. PGIM has the capacity to negotiate the complexity of the real estate industry and generate consistent profits. Its success is driven by its comprehensive strategy based on in-depth research and knowledge. As such, it continues to be a trustworthy partner for individuals looking to take advantage of CRE opportunities.
Nuveen is a prominent participant in the investment management arena. It has a wide range of investment products including a real estate AUM totaling $156 billion. Even though it is primarily focused on the United States, Nuveen maintains a global presence.
With 85 years of real estate investing experience, Nuveen stands out for its accomplishments in managing different income-generating real estate investments, which is what earns it its place on the list. For investors looking for long-term financial security, Nuveen is a dependable option.
6. MetLife Investment Management
MetLife Investment stands out due to its specialization in commercial real estate investments, with a primary focus on the United States. With 150 years’ investment experience in real estate as a company, MetLife’s real estate AUM (including commercial mortgages and equities) totals $107 billion.
MetLife has earned a well-deserved status as one of the top options for investors looking for a trustworthy and financially stable partner in CRE.
7. CBRE Investment Management
CBRE Investment Management is an independently operated member of the CBRE group – the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm. As the name suggests, CBRE Investment Management focuses on the management of investment assets, predominantly commercial real estate. They currently have over $147 billion AUM.
The company has a global reach with a significant presence in the United States. CBRE's worldwide footprint gives it access to numerous markets, allowing it to take advantage of new opportunities everywhere. They also have a strong focus on sustainability.
For those looking for flexibility but also stability in real estate investments, this combination of strategy and geographic breadth is a good pick.
8. Starwood Capital
Starwood Capital has earned its place among the elite in real estate investment due to its strong focus on opportunistic ventures and its global reach. With a substantial presence in the United States, the company has notched up remarkable achievements by seizing the right opportunities during market downturns. These include investments into multi-billion-dollar, inner-city developments, multiple hotels, offices, and even the Denver Union Station development, to name but a few.
Whether it's capitalizing on distressed assets or recognizing emerging market trends, this ability to spot and harness investment prospects sets Starwood Capital apart from its peers. It confirms Starwood Capital’s status as a force to be reckoned with in international real estate.
Why you Need to know the Best Asset Management Firms
CRE can be a complex landscape to navigate, and choosing the right asset management company can make all the difference. Effective asset management is key to sustaining profitable outcomes and aligning your investments with long-term objectives.
These eight CRE asset management firms are some of the largest in the world, standing out for their ability to adapt to market shifts and exploit new opportunities across different sectors. Their continued success is testament to their quality asset management over many years.
For CRE professionals, familiarity with these companies offers a valuable reference point for best practices in asset management. Let this guide be a starting point to supplement your research.