Heavy transaction volume created an abundance of new business opportunities for managers, both large and small, in 2015.

Last year, sales of apartment properties jumped 32%, to $150 ­billion, according to a report from New York–based Real Capital Analytics (RCA). That volume had a huge impact on the NMHC 50 Owners list, as companies like Starwood suddenly joined the exclusive rankings. Less obvious, though, was the influence this transaction volume had on the NMHC 50 Managers list.

As the big got bigger on the Owners list, the same seems to be happening on the Managers list. When a big institution buys a large portfolio in a new city, it often seeks to work with a familiar name. Sometimes, it pulls an existing manager along. Other times, these owners look for the most recognizable name. That benefits companies like Greystar and FPI Management (and incentivizes them to keep looking for growth opportunities), which are among the biggest in many markets they serve. But that’s not the only path to growth. As No. 45 ZRS Management shows, it’s possible to grow at a strong clip by being selective, too.

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