0000915912-20-000004.txt : 20200221 0000915912-20-000004.hdr.sgml : 20200221 20200221154119 ACCESSION NUMBER: 0000915912-20-000004 CONFORMED SUBMISSION TYPE: 10-K PUBLIC DOCUMENT COUNT: 85 CONFORMED PERIOD OF REPORT: 20191231 FILED AS OF DATE: 20200221 DATE AS OF CHANGE: 20200221 FILER: COMPANY DATA: COMPANY CONFORMED NAME: AVALONBAY COMMUNITIES INC CENTRAL INDEX KEY: 0000915912 STANDARD INDUSTRIAL CLASSIFICATION: REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUSTS [6798] IRS NUMBER: 770404318 STATE OF INCORPORATION: MD FISCAL YEAR END: 1231 FILING VALUES: FORM TYPE: 10-K SEC ACT: 1934 Act SEC FILE NUMBER: 001-12672 FILM NUMBER: 20639769 BUSINESS ADDRESS: STREET 1: 671 N. GLEBE ROAD STREET 2: SUITE 800 CITY: ARLINGTON STATE: VA ZIP: 22203 BUSINESS PHONE: 7033296300 MAIL ADDRESS: STREET 1: 671 N. GLEBE ROAD STREET 2: STE 800 CITY: ARLINGTON STATE: VA ZIP: 22203 FORMER COMPANY: FORMER CONFORMED NAME: AVALON BAY COMMUNITIES INC DATE OF NAME CHANGE: 19980618 FORMER COMPANY: FORMER CONFORMED NAME: BAY APARTMENT COMMUNITIES INC DATE OF NAME CHANGE: 19931208 10-K 1 a201910-k.htm 10-K Document
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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) 
OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
Commission file number 1-12672
AVALONBAY COMMUNITIES, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
 
 
Maryland
 
 
77-0404318
 
 
(State or other jurisdiction of
 
(I.R.S. Employer
 
 
incorporation or organization)
 
Identification No.)
 
Ballston Tower
671 N. Glebe Rd, Suite 800
Arlington, Virginia 22203
(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)
(703) 329-6300
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code) 
__________________________________________________________________________
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Trading Symbol
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share
 
AVB
 
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    
Yes  ý    No  o
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.   
Yes  o    No  ý
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding twelve (12) months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    
Yes  ý    No  o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    
Yes  ý    No  o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company.  See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company," and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one)
 
Large accelerated filer
 
Accelerated filer
 
 
Non-accelerated filer
 
Smaller reporting company
 
 
 

 
Emerging growth company
 
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    
Yes      No  ý
The aggregate market value of the registrant's Common Stock, par value $.01 per share, held by nonaffiliates of the registrant, as of June 30, 2019 was $28,279,444,401.
The number of shares of the registrant's Common Stock, par value $.01 per share, outstanding as of January 31, 2020 was 140,642,065.
Documents Incorporated by Reference
Portions of AvalonBay Communities, Inc.'s Proxy Statement for the 2020 annual meeting of stockholders, a definitive copy of which will be filed with the SEC within 120 days after the year end of the year covered by this Form 10-K, are incorporated by reference herein as portions of Part III of this Form 10-K.



TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
 
 
PAGE
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



PART I

This Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Our actual results could differ materially from those set forth in each forward-looking statement. Certain factors that might cause such a difference are discussed in this report, including in the section entitled “Forward-Looking Statements” included in this Form 10-K. You should also review Item 1A. “Risk Factors” for a discussion of various risks that could adversely affect us.

ITEM 1.    BUSINESS

General

AvalonBay Communities, Inc. (the “Company,” which term, unless the context otherwise requires, refers to AvalonBay Communities, Inc. together with its subsidiaries), is a Maryland corporation that has elected to be treated as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) for federal income tax purposes. We develop, redevelop, acquire, own and operate multifamily communities in New England, the New York/New Jersey metro area, the Mid-Atlantic, the Pacific Northwest, and Northern and Southern California, as well as our expansion markets consisting of Denver, Colorado, and Southeast Florida. We focus on leading metropolitan areas in these regions that we believe are characterized by growing employment in high wage sectors of the economy, higher cost of home ownership and a diverse and vibrant quality of life. We believe these market characteristics offer the opportunity for superior risk-adjusted returns over the long-term on apartment community investments relative to other markets that do not have these characteristics.

At January 31, 2020, we owned or held a direct or indirect ownership interest in:

274 operating apartment communities containing 79,636 apartment homes in 11 states and the District of Columbia, of which 261 communities containing 76,447 apartment homes were consolidated for financial reporting purposes and 13 communities containing 3,189 apartment homes were held by unconsolidated entities in which we hold an ownership interest. One of the consolidated communities containing 422 apartment homes was under redevelopment.

A mixed-use project located in New York, NY that contains 172 for-sale residential condominiums and 67,000 square feet of retail space.

22 apartment communities under development that are expected to contain an aggregate of 6,960 apartment homes when completed. One of these communities, expected to contain 328 apartment homes, is being developed through a joint venture.

Rights to develop an additional 27 communities that, if developed as expected, will contain 9,587 apartment homes.

We generally obtain ownership in an apartment community by developing a new community on either vacant land or land with improvements that we raze, or by acquiring an existing community. In selecting sites for development or acquisition, we favor locations that are near expanding employment centers and convenient to transportation, recreation areas, entertainment, shopping and dining.

Our principal financial goal is to increase long-term shareholder value through the development, redevelopment, acquisition, ownership and, when appropriate, disposition of apartment communities in our markets. To help meet this goal, we regularly (i) monitor our investment allocation by geographic market and product type, (ii) develop, redevelop and acquire interests in apartment communities in our selected markets, (iii) selectively sell apartment communities that no longer meet our long-term strategy or when opportunities are presented to realize a portion of the value created through our investment and redeploy the proceeds from those sales and (iv) endeavor to maintain a capital structure that is aligned with our business risks with a view to maintaining continuous access to cost-effective capital. We pursue our development, redevelopment, investment and operating activities with the purpose of Creating a Better Way to Live. Our strategic vision is to be the leading apartment company in select US markets, providing a range of distinctive living experiences that customers value. We pursue this vision by targeting what we believe are among the best markets and submarkets, leveraging our strategic capabilities in market research and consumer insight and being disciplined in our capital allocation and balance sheet management. We operate our apartment communities under three core brands Avalon, AVA and Eaves by Avalon, described in Item 2. "Communities." We pursue our development and redevelopment activities primarily through in-house development and in-house redevelopment teams, which are complemented by our in-house acquisition platform. We believe that our organizational structure, which includes dedicated development and operational teams in each of our regions, and strong culture are key differentiators, providing us with highly talented, dedicated and capable associates.


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During the three years ended December 31, 2019, we:

acquired 12 apartment communities, excluding unconsolidated investments, and in 2019 we purchased our joint venture partner's interest in one operating community, obtaining a 100% ownership in that apartment community;

disposed of 20 apartment communities, excluding unconsolidated investments and the five wholly-owned communities we contributed to the NYC Joint Venture (as defined below) during 2018;

realized our pro rata share of the gain from the sale of seven communities owned by unconsolidated real estate entities;

contributed five wholly-owned operating communities located in New York, NY, to a newly formed joint venture (the "NYC Joint Venture") in 2018, retaining a 20.0% interest in the venture and acting as the managing member of the venture as well as the property manager for the communities; and

completed the development of 28 apartment communities and the redevelopment of 24 apartment communities.

A more detailed description of our unconsolidated real estate entities and the related investment activity can be found in the discussion in Note 5, “Investments in Real Estate Entities,” of the Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this report and in Item 7. “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

A further discussion of our development, redevelopment, disposition, acquisition, property management and related strategies follows.

Development Strategy.    We select land for development and follow established procedures that we believe minimize both the cost and the risks of development. As one of the largest developers of multifamily rental apartment communities in our selected markets, we identify development opportunities through local market presence and access to local market information achieved through our regional offices. In addition to our principal executive office in Arlington, Virginia, we also maintain regional offices, administrative offices or specialty offices, including offices that are in or near the following cities:

Bellevue, Washington;
Boston, Massachusetts;
Denver, Colorado;
Fairfield, Connecticut;
Irvine, California;
Iselin, New Jersey;
Los Angeles, California;
Melville, New York;
New York, New York;
San Diego, California;
San Francisco, California;
San Jose, California; and
Virginia Beach, Virginia.

After selecting a target site, we usually negotiate for the right to acquire the site either through an option or a long-term conditional contract. Options and long-term conditional contracts generally allow us to acquire the target site after the completion of entitlements and shortly before the start of construction, which reduces development-related risks and preserves capital. However, as a result of competitive market conditions for land suitable for development, we have sometimes acquired and held land prior to construction for extended periods while entitlements are obtained, or acquired land zoned for uses other than residential with the potential for rezoning. For further discussion of our Development Rights, refer to Item 2. “Communities” in this report.

We generally act as our own general contractor and construction manager, except for certain mid-rise and high-rise apartment communities, or in locations where we have limited historical experience, where we may elect to use third-party general contractors as construction managers. We generally perform these functions directly (although we may use a wholly-owned subsidiary) both for ourselves and for the joint ventures and partnerships of which we are a member or a partner. We believe direct involvement in construction enables us to achieve higher construction quality, greater control over construction schedules and cost savings. Our development, property management and construction teams monitor construction progress to ensure quality workmanship and a smooth and timely transition into the leasing and operating phase.


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During periods where competition for development land is more intense, we may acquire improved land with existing commercial uses and rezone the site for multifamily residential use. During the period that we hold these buildings for future development, any rent received in excess of expenses from these operations, which we consider to be incidental, is accounted for as a reduction in our investment in the development pursuit and not as net income. Any expenses relating to these operations, in excess of any rents received, are accounted for as a reduction in net income. We have also participated, and may in the future participate, in master planned or other large multi-use developments where we commit to build infrastructure (such as roads) to be used by other participants or commit to act as construction manager or general contractor in building structures or spaces for third parties (such as unimproved ground floor retail space, municipal garages or parks). Costs we incur in connection with these activities may be accounted for as additional invested capital in the community or we may earn fee income for providing these services. Particularly with large scale, urban in-fill developments, we may engage in significant environmental remediation efforts to prepare a site for construction.

Throughout this report, the term “development” is used to refer to the entire property development cycle, including pursuit of zoning approvals, procurement of architectural and engineering designs and the construction process. References to “construction” refer to the actual construction of the property, which is only one element of the development cycle.

Redevelopment Strategy.    When we undertake the redevelopment of a community, our goal is to renovate and/or rebuild an existing community so that our total investment is generally below replacement cost and the community is well positioned in the market to achieve attractive returns on our capital. We have dedicated redevelopment teams and procedures that are intended to control both the cost and risks of redevelopment. Our redevelopment teams, which include redevelopment, construction and property management personnel, monitor redevelopment progress.

Throughout this report, the term “redevelopment” is used to refer to the entire redevelopment cycle, including planning and procurement of architectural and engineering designs, budgeting and actual renovation work. The actual renovation work is referred to as “reconstruction,” which is only one element of the redevelopment cycle.

Disposition Strategy.    We sell assets that no longer meet our long-term strategy or when real estate market conditions are favorable, and we redeploy the proceeds from those sales to develop, redevelop and acquire communities and to rebalance our portfolio across or within geographic regions. This also allows us to realize a portion of the value created through our investments and provides additional liquidity by redeploying the net proceeds from our dispositions in lieu of raising that amount of capital externally. When we decide to sell a community, we generally solicit competing bids from unrelated parties for these individual assets and consider the sales price and other terms of each proposal.

As part of the Archstone Acquisition in 2013 (as defined in Item 1. “Business” in the Company's Form 10-K filed February 22, 2019), we acquired, and still own, 14 assets that had previously been contributed by third parties on a tax-deferred basis to an Archstone partnership in which the third parties received ownership interests. To protect the tax-deferred nature of the contribution, the third parties are entitled to cash payments if we trigger tax obligations to the third parties by selling, or failing to maintain sufficient levels of secured financing on, the contributed assets. Our tax protection payment obligations with respect to these assets expire at different times and in some cases don’t expire until the death of a third party who contributed ownership interests to the Archstone partnership. After review and investigation of Archstone’s tax and accounting records, we estimate that, had we sold or taken other triggering actions in 2019 with respect to all 14 assets, the aggregate amount of the tax protection payments that would have been triggered would have been approximately $47,800,000. At the present time, we do not intend to take actions that would cause us to be required to make tax protection payments with respect to any of these assets.

Acquisition Strategy.    Our core competencies in development and redevelopment discussed above allow us to be selective in the acquisitions we target. Acquisitions allow us to achieve rapid penetration into markets in which we desire an increased presence. Acquisitions (and dispositions) also help us achieve our desired product mix or rebalance our portfolio. Portfolio growth also allows for fixed general and administrative costs to be a smaller percentage of overall community Net Operating Income (“NOI”).
While we have achieved growth in the past through the establishment of discretionary real estate investments funds, which placed certain limitations on our ability to acquire new communities during their investments periods, we are not presently pursuing the formation of a new discretionary real estate investment fund, preferring at this time to maintain flexibility in shaping our portfolio of wholly-owned assets through acquisitions and dispositions.

Property Management Strategy.    We seek to increase operating income through innovative, proactive property management that will result in higher revenue from communities while constraining operating expenses. Our principal strategies to maximize revenue include:

focusing on resident satisfaction;
staggering lease terms such that lease expirations are better matched to traffic patterns;

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balancing high occupancy with premium pricing and increasing rents as market conditions permit; and
employing revenue management software to optimize the pricing and term of leases.

Constraining growth in operating expenses is another way in which we seek to increase earnings growth. Growth in our portfolio and the resulting increase in revenue allows for fixed operating costs to be spread over a larger volume of revenue, thereby increasing operating margins. We constrain growth in operating expenses in a variety of ways, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

we use purchase order controls, acquiring goods and services from pre-approved vendors;
we use national negotiated contracts and also purchase supplies in bulk where possible;
we bid third-party contracts on a volume basis;
we strive to retain residents through high levels of service in order to eliminate the cost of preparing an apartment home for a new resident and to reduce marketing and vacant apartment utility costs;
we perform turnover work in-house or hire third parties, generally considering the most cost effective approach as well as expertise needed to perform the work;
we undertake preventive maintenance regularly to maximize resident safety and satisfaction, as well as to maximize property and equipment life;
we have a customer care center, centralizing and improving the efficiency and consistency in the application of our policies for many of the administrative tasks associated with owning and operating apartment communities;
we aggressively pursue real estate tax appeals; and
we install high efficiency lighting and water fixtures, cogeneration systems and implement sustainability initiatives in our operating platform.

On-site property management teams receive bonuses based largely upon the revenue, expense, NOI and customer service metrics produced at their respective communities. We use and continuously seek ways to improve technology applications to help manage our communities, believing that the accurate collection of financial and resident data will enable us to maximize revenue and control costs through careful leasing decisions, maintenance decisions and financial management.

We generally manage the operation and leasing activity of our communities directly (although we may use a wholly-owned subsidiary) both for ourselves and the joint ventures and partnerships of which we are a member or a partner. From time to time we may engage a third party to manage leasing and/or maintenance activity at one or more of our communities.

From time to time we also pursue or arrange ancillary services for our residents to provide additional revenue sources or increase resident satisfaction. We provide such non-customary services to residents or share in the revenue or income from such services if we do so through a “taxable REIT subsidiary,” which is a subsidiary that is treated as a “C corporation” subject to federal income taxes. See “Tax Matters” below.

Financing Strategy.    Our financing strategy is to endeavor to maintain a capital structure that provides financial flexibility to help ensure we can select cost effective capital market options that are well matched to our business risks. We estimate that our short-term liquidity needs will be met from cash on hand, borrowings under our $1,750,000,000 revolving variable rate unsecured credit facility (the “Credit Facility”), sales of current operating communities and/or issuance of additional debt or equity securities. A determination to engage in an equity or debt offering depends on a variety of factors such as general market and economic conditions, our short and long-term liquidity needs, the relative costs of debt and equity capital and growth opportunities. A summary of debt and equity activity for the last three years is reflected on our Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows of the Consolidated Financial Statements set forth in Item 8 of this report.

We have entered into, and may continue in the future to enter into, joint ventures (including limited liability companies or partnerships) through which we would develop and/or own an indirect economic interest of less than 100% of the community or communities owned directly by such joint ventures. Our decision to either hold an apartment community in fee simple or to have an indirect interest in the community through a joint venture is based on a variety of factors and considerations, including: (i) the economic and tax terms required by a seller of land or of a community; (ii) our desire to diversify our portfolio of communities by market, submarket and product type; (iii) our desire at times to preserve our capital resources to maintain liquidity or balance sheet strength; and (iv) our projection, in some circumstances, that we will achieve higher returns on our invested capital or reduce our risk if a joint venture vehicle is used. Investments in joint ventures are not limited to a specified percentage of our assets. Each joint venture agreement is individually negotiated, and our ability to operate and/or dispose of a community in our sole discretion may be limited to varying degrees depending on the terms of the joint venture agreement.

In addition, from time to time, we may offer shares of our equity securities, debt securities or options to purchase stock in exchange for property. We may also acquire properties in exchange for properties we currently own.

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Other Strategies and Activities.    While we emphasize equity real estate investments in rental apartment communities, we have the ability to invest in other types of real estate, mortgages (including participating or convertible mortgages), securities of other REITs or real estate operating companies, or securities of technology companies that relate to our real estate operations or of companies that provide services to us or our residents, in each case consistent with our qualification as a REIT. In addition, we own and lease retail space at our communities when either (i) the highest and best use of the space is for retail (e.g., street level in an urban area); (ii) we believe the retail space will enhance the attractiveness of the community to residents or; (iii) some component of retail space is required to obtain entitlements to build apartment homes. As of December 31, 2019, we had a total of approximately 787,000 square feet of rentable retail space, excluding retail space within communities currently under development. Gross rental revenue provided by leased retail space in 2019 was $32,627,000 (1.4% of total revenue). We may also develop a property in conjunction with another real estate company that will own and operate the retail or for-sale residential components of a mixed-use building or project that we help develop. If we secure a development right and believe that its best use, in whole or in part, is to develop the real estate with the intent to sell rather than hold the asset, we may, through a taxable REIT subsidiary, develop real estate for sale. Any investment in securities of other entities, and any development of real estate for sale, is subject to the percentage of ownership limitations, gross income tests, and other limitations that must be observed for REIT qualification.

We conduct many of the administrative functions associated with our property operations (including billing, collections, and response to resident inquiries) through an internally operated shared services center, rather than having on-site associates conduct such activities. We believe that this centralized platform allows our on-site associates to focus more on current and prospective resident services, while at the same time enabling us to reduce costs, mitigate risk and increase our availability and responsiveness to our residents. We are exploring the possibility of performing these shared service center administrative functions for a third party as a means of creating an additional revenue stream and economies of scale at our center. We cannot assure that we will provide such services to a third party or that it will be successful if we do so. 

We have not engaged in trading, underwriting or agency distribution or sale of securities of other issuers and do not intend to do so. At all times we intend to make investments in a manner so as to qualify as a REIT unless, because of circumstances or changes to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”) (or the Treasury Regulations thereunder), our Board of Directors determines that it is no longer in our best interest to qualify as a REIT.

Tax Matters

We filed an election with our 1994 federal income tax return to be taxed as a REIT under the Code and intend to maintain our qualification as a REIT in the future. As a REIT, with limited exceptions, such as those described under “Property Management Strategy” above, we will not be taxed under federal and certain state income tax laws at the corporate level on our taxable net income to the extent taxable net income is distributed to our stockholders. We expect to make sufficient distributions to avoid income tax at the corporate level. While we believe that we are organized and qualified as a REIT and we intend to operate in a manner that will allow us to continue to qualify as a REIT, there can be no assurance that we will be successful in this regard. Qualification as a REIT involves the application of highly technical and complex provisions of the Code for which there are limited judicial and administrative interpretations and involves the determination of a variety of factual matters and circumstances not entirely within our control.

Competition

We face competition from other real estate investors, including insurance companies, pension and investment funds, REITs both in the multifamily as well as other sectors, and other well capitalized investors, to acquire and develop apartment communities and acquire land for future development. As an owner and operator of apartment communities, we also face competition for prospective residents from other operators whose communities may be perceived to offer a better location or better amenities or whose pricing may be perceived as a better value given the quality, location, terms and amenities that the prospective resident seeks. We also compete against condominiums and single-family homes that are for sale or rent. Although we often compete against large, sophisticated developers and operators for development opportunities and for prospective residents, real estate developers and operators of any size can provide effective competition for both real estate assets and potential residents.


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Environmental and Related Matters

As a current or prior owner, operator and developer of real estate, we are subject to various federal, state and local environmental laws, regulations and ordinances and also could be liable to third parties resulting from environmental contamination or noncompliance at our communities. For some Development Communities we undertake extensive environmental remediation to prepare the site for construction, which could be a significant portion of our total construction cost. Environmental remediation efforts could expose us to possible liabilities for accidents or improper handling of contaminated materials during construction. These and other risks related to environmental matters are described in more detail in Item 1A. “Risk Factors.”

We believe that more government regulation of energy use, along with a greater focus on environmental protection, may, over time, have a significant impact on urban growth patterns. If changes in zoning to encourage greater density and proximity to mass transit do occur, such changes could benefit multifamily housing and those companies with a competency in high-density development. However, there can be no assurance as to whether or when such changes in regulations or zoning will occur or, if they do occur, whether the multifamily industry or the Company will benefit from such changes.

Other Information

We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. You may obtain copies of our SEC filings, free of charge, from the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.

We maintain a website at www.avalonbay.com. Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports, filed or furnished pursuant to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 are available free of charge in the “Investor Relations” section of our website as soon as reasonably practicable after the reports are filed with or furnished to the SEC. In addition, the charters of our Board's Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, Audit Committee and Compensation Committee, as well as our Director Independence Standards, Corporate Governance Guidelines, Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, Policy Regarding Shareholder Rights Agreements, Policy Regarding Shareholder Approval of Future Severance Agreements, Executive Stock Ownership Guidelines, Policy on Political Contributions and Government Relations, Policy for Recoupment of Incentive Compensation, and Sustainability Reports, are available free of charge in that section of our website or by writing to AvalonBay Communities, Inc., Ballston Tower, Suite 800, 671 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington, Virginia 22203, Attention: Chief Financial Officer. To the extent required by the rules of the SEC and the NYSE, we will disclose amendments and waivers relating to these documents in the same place on our website. The information posted on our website is not incorporated into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

We were incorporated under the laws of the State of California in 1978. In 1995, we reincorporated in the State of Maryland and have been focused on the ownership and operation of apartment communities since that time. As of January 31, 2020, we had 3,122 employees.

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ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS

Our operations involve various risks that could have adverse consequences, including those described below. This Item 1A. includes forward-looking statements. You should refer to our discussion of the qualifications and limitations on forward-looking statements in this Form 10-K.

Development, redevelopment, construction and operating risks could affect our profitability.

We intend to continue to develop and redevelop apartment home communities. These activities can include long planning and entitlement timelines and can involve complex and costly activities, including significant environmental remediation or construction work in high-density urban areas. These activities may be exposed to the following risks:

we may abandon opportunities that we have already begun to explore for a number of reasons, including changes in local market conditions or increases in construction or financing costs, and, as a result, we may fail to recover expenses already incurred in exploring those opportunities;
occupancy rates and rents at a community may fail to meet our original expectations for a number of reasons, including changes in market and economic conditions beyond our control and the development by competitors of competing communities;
we may be unable to obtain, or experience delays in obtaining, necessary zoning, occupancy or other required governmental or third party permits and authorizations, which could result in increased costs or the delay or abandonment of opportunities;
we may incur costs that exceed our original estimates due to increased material, labor or other costs;
we may be unable to complete construction and lease-up of a community on schedule, resulting in increased construction and financing costs and a decrease in expected rental revenues;
we may be unable to obtain financing with favorable terms, or at all, for the proposed development of a community, which may cause us to delay or abandon an opportunity;
we may incur liabilities to third parties during the development process, for example, in connection with managing existing improvements on the site prior to tenant terminations and demolition (such as commercial space) or in connection with providing services to third parties (such as the construction of shared infrastructure or other improvements); and
we may incur liability if our communities are not constructed and operated in compliance with the accessibility provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Acts, the Fair Housing Act or other federal, state or local requirements. Noncompliance could result in imposition of fines, an award of damages to private litigants and a requirement that we undertake structural modifications to remedy the noncompliance.

We estimate construction costs based on market conditions at the time we prepare our budgets, and our projections include changes that we anticipate but cannot predict with certainty. Construction costs may increase, particularly for labor and certain materials and, for some of our Development Communities and Development Rights (as defined below), the total construction costs may be higher than the original budget. Total capitalized cost includes all capitalized costs incurred and projected to be incurred to develop or redevelop a community, determined in accordance with GAAP, including:

land and/or property acquisition costs;
fees paid to secure air rights and/or tax abatements;
construction or reconstruction costs;
costs of environmental remediation;
real estate taxes;
capitalized interest and insurance;
loan fees;
permits;
professional fees;
allocated development or redevelopment overhead; and
other regulatory fees.

Costs to redevelop communities that have been acquired have, in some cases, exceeded our original estimates and similar increases in costs may be experienced in the future. We cannot assure you that market rents in effect at the time new Development or Redevelopment Communities complete lease-up will be sufficient to fully offset the effects of any increased construction or reconstruction costs.


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The construction and maintenance of our communities include a risk of major casualty events that could materially damage our property and the property of others and pose the risk of personal injury. While we carry insurance for such risks in amounts we deem reasonable, we cannot assure that such insurance will be adequate, and when we have incurred and in the future may incur such casualties, we are subject to losses on account of deductibles and self-insured amounts in any event. Such casualties may also expose us in the future to higher insurance premiums, greater construction or operating costs (either voluntarily assumed by us or as a result of new local regulations) and risks to our reputation among prospective residents or municipalities from which we may seek approvals in the future, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and our financial condition and results of operations.

Unfavorable changes in market and economic conditions could adversely affect occupancy, rental rates, operating expenses and the overall market value of our real estate assets.

Local conditions in our markets significantly affect occupancy, rental rates and the operating performance of our communities. The risks that may adversely affect conditions in those markets include the following:

corporate restructurings and/or layoffs, industry slowdowns and other factors that adversely affect the local economy;
an oversupply of, or a reduced demand for, apartment homes;
a decline in household formation or employment or lack of employment growth;
the inability or unwillingness of residents to pay rent increases;
rent control or rent stabilization laws, or other laws regulating housing, that could prevent us from raising rents sufficiently to offset increases in operating costs; and
economic conditions that could cause an increase in our operating expenses, such as increases in property taxes, utilities, compensation of on-site associates and routine maintenance.

Rent control and other changes in applicable laws, or noncompliance with applicable laws, could adversely affect our operations or expose us to liability.

We must develop, construct and operate our communities in compliance with numerous federal, state and local laws and regulations, some of which may conflict with one another or be subject to limited judicial or regulatory interpretations. These laws and regulations may include zoning laws, building codes, landlord/tenant laws and other laws generally applicable to business operations. Noncompliance with laws could expose us to liability.

Lower revenue growth or significant unanticipated expenditures may result from our need to comply with changes in (i) laws imposing remediation requirements and the potential liability for environmental conditions existing on properties or the restrictions on discharges or other conditions, (ii) rent control or rent stabilization laws or other residential landlord/tenant laws or (iii) other governmental rules and regulations or enforcement policies affecting the development, use and operation of our communities, including changes to building codes and fire and life-safety codes.

We have seen a recent increase in states and municipalities implementing, considering or being urged by advocacy groups to consider rent control or rent stabilization laws and regulations or take other actions that could limit the amount by which we can raise rents or charge non-rent fees. For example, in 2019 the State of California adopted statewide rent control for communities older than fifteen years, limiting rent increases to the lesser of 10% or 5% plus local CPI. Also in 2019 the State of New York adopted new rules for rent-controlled and rent-stabilized units that revised and limited the way rent increases are calculated for renewal leases, basing increases solely on rent actually paid and eliminating the ability to increase the renewal rent to a higher “registered rent.” Furthermore, in California the Governor has the ability to enact local or statewide states of emergency which limit our ability to increase new and renewal rents more than 10% over the rent in place on the date such state of emergency was declared, which has impacted some of our California communities. These initiatives and any other future enactments of rent control or rent stabilization laws or other laws regulating multi-family housing, as well as any lawsuits against the Company arising from such rent control or other laws, may reduce rental revenues or increase operating costs. Such laws and regulations may limit our ability to charge market rents, increase rents, evict tenants or recover increases in our operating expenses and could make it more difficult for us to dispose of properties in certain circumstances. Expenses associated with our investment in these communities, such as debt service, real estate taxes, insurance and maintenance costs, are generally not reduced when circumstances cause a reduction in rental income from the community.

Short-term leases expose us to the effects of declining market rents.

Substantially all of our apartment leases are for a term of one year or less. Because these leases generally permit the residents to leave at the end of the lease term without penalty, our rental revenues are impacted by declines in market rents more quickly than if our leases were for longer terms.

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Competition could limit our ability to lease apartment homes or increase or maintain rents.

Our apartment communities compete with other housing alternatives to attract residents, including other rental apartments, condominiums and single-family homes for rent, and short term furnished offerings such as those available from extended stay hotels and through on-line services such as Airbnb. In addition, our residents and prospective residents also consider as an alternative to renting the purchase of a new or existing condominium or single-family home for sale. Competitive residential housing in a particular area could adversely affect our ability to lease apartment homes and to increase or maintain rental rates.

Attractive investment opportunities may not be available, which could adversely affect our profitability.

We expect that other real estate investors, including insurance companies, pension and investment funds, other REITs and other well-capitalized investors, will compete with us to acquire existing properties and to develop new properties. This competition could increase prices for properties of the type we would likely pursue and adversely affect our profitability for new investments.

Capital and credit market conditions may adversely affect our access to various sources of capital and/or the cost of capital, which could impact our business activities, dividends, earnings and common stock price, among other things.

In periods when the capital and credit markets experience significant volatility, the amounts, sources and cost of capital available to us may be adversely affected. We primarily use external financing to fund construction and to refinance indebtedness as it matures. If sufficient sources of external financing are not available to us on cost effective terms, we could be forced to limit our development and redevelopment activity and/or take other actions to fund our business activities and repayment of debt, such as selling assets or reducing our cash dividend. To the extent that we are able and/or choose to access capital at a higher cost than we have experienced in recent years (reflected in higher interest rates for debt financing or a lower stock price for equity financing), absent changes in other factors, our earnings per share and cash flows could be adversely affected. In addition, the price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly and/or decline in a high interest rate or volatile economic environment. We believe that the lenders under our Credit Facility will fulfill their lending obligations thereunder, but if economic conditions deteriorate, there can be no assurance that the ability of those lenders to fulfill their obligations would not be adversely impacted.

Insufficient cash flow could affect our debt financing and create refinancing risk.

We are subject to the risks associated with debt financing, including the risk that our available cash will be insufficient to meet required payments of principal and interest on our debt. In this regard, in order for us to continue to qualify as a REIT, we are required to annually distribute dividends generally equal to at least 90% of our REIT taxable income, computed without regard to the dividends paid deduction and excluding any net capital gain. This requirement limits the amount of our cash flow available to meet required principal and interest payments. The principal outstanding balance on a portion of our debt will not be fully amortized prior to its maturity. Although we may be able to repay our debt by using our cash flows, we cannot assure you that we will have sufficient cash flows available to make all required principal payments. Therefore, we may need to refinance at least a portion of our outstanding debt as it matures. There is a risk that we may not be able to refinance existing debt or that a refinancing will not be done on as favorable terms; either of these outcomes could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

Rising interest rates could increase interest costs and could affect the market price of our common stock, and efforts to hedge such risk could be ineffective and cause us to incur costs.

We currently have, and may in the future incur, contractual variable interest rate debt. In addition, we regularly seek access to both fixed and variable rate debt financing to repay maturing debt and to finance our development and redevelopment activity. Accordingly, if interest rates increase, our interest costs will also rise, unless we have made arrangements that hedge the risk of rising interest rates. In addition, an increase in market interest rates may lead purchasers of our common stock to demand a greater annual dividend yield, which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

From time to time we use interest rate derivatives to hedge and manage our exposure to certain interest rate risks. For example, from time to time, when we anticipate issuing debt securities, we may seek to limit our exposure to fluctuations in interest rates during the period prior to the expected issuance of the securities by entering into interest rate hedging contracts. Although these agreements may partially protect against rising interest rates, they also may reduce the benefits to the Company if interest rates decline. The settlement of interest rate hedging contracts has involved and may in the future involve material charges to our earnings. In addition, our use of interest rate hedging arrangements may expose us to additional risks, including a risk that a counterparty to a hedging arrangement may fail to honor its obligations. Developing and implementing an effective interest rate risk strategy is complex and no strategy can completely insulate us from risks associated with interest rate fluctuations. There can

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be no assurance that our hedging activities will be effective. Termination of these hedging agreements may involve net costs, such as transaction fees, settlement costs and/or breakage costs.

Bond financing and zoning and other compliance requirements could limit our income, restrict the use of communities and cause favorable financing to become unavailable.

We have financed some of our apartment communities with obligations issued by local government agencies because the interest paid to the holders of this debt is generally exempt from federal income taxes and, therefore, the interest rate is generally more favorable to us. These obligations are commonly referred to as “tax-exempt bonds” and generally must be secured by mortgages on our communities. As a condition to obtaining tax-exempt financing, or on occasion as a condition to obtaining favorable zoning or an agreement relating to property taxes in some jurisdictions, we will commit to make some of the apartments in a community available to households whose income does not exceed certain thresholds (e.g., 50% or 80% of area median income), or who meet other qualifying tests. As of December 31, 2019, 5.2% of our apartment homes at current operating communities were under income limitations such as these. These commitments, which may run without expiration or may expire after a period of time (such as 15 or 20 years), may limit our ability to raise rents and, as a consequence, may also adversely affect the value of the communities subject to these restrictions. In addition, if we fail to observe these commitments, we could lose benefits (such as reduced property taxes) or face liabilities including liability for the benefits we received under tax exempt bonds, tax credits or agreements related to property taxes.

In addition, some of our tax-exempt bond financing documents require us to obtain a guarantee from a financial institution of payment of the principal of, and interest on, the bonds. The guarantee may take the form of a letter of credit, surety bond, guarantee agreement or other additional collateral. If the financial institution defaults in its guarantee obligations, or if we are unable to renew the applicable guarantee or otherwise post satisfactory collateral, a default will occur under the applicable tax-exempt bonds and the community could be foreclosed upon if we do not redeem the bonds.

Risks related to indebtedness.

We have a Credit Facility with a syndicate of commercial banks. Our organizational documents do not limit the amount or percentage of indebtedness that may be incurred. Accordingly, subject to compliance with outstanding debt covenants, we could incur more debt, resulting in an increased risk of default on our obligations and an increase in debt service requirements that could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

The mortgages on properties that are subject to secured debt, our Credit Facility and the indentures under which a substantial portion of our debt was issued contain customary restrictions, requirements and other limitations, as well as certain financial and operating covenants including maintenance of certain financial ratios. Maintaining compliance with these restrictions could limit our flexibility. A default in these requirements, if uncured, could result in a requirement that we repay indebtedness, which could materially adversely affect our liquidity and increase our financing costs. Refer to Item 7. “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for further discussion.

The mortgages on properties that are subject to secured debt generally include provisions which stipulate a prepayment penalty or payment that we will be obligated to pay in the event that we elect to repay the mortgage note prior to the earlier of (i) the stated maturity of the note or (ii) the date at which the mortgage note is prepayable without such penalty or payment. If we elect to repay some or all of the outstanding principal balance for our mortgage notes, we may incur prepayment penalties or payments under these provisions which could materially adversely affect our results of operations.

The phase-out of LIBOR and transition to SOFR as a benchmark interest rate will have uncertain and possibly adverse effects.

In 2018, the Alternative Reference Rate Committee identified the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) as the alternative to LIBOR. SOFR is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by U.S. Treasury securities, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. By the end of 2021, it is expected that no new contracts will reference LIBOR and will instead use SOFR. Due to the broad use of LIBOR as a reference rate, all financial market participants, including the Company, are impacted by the risks associated with this transition. The impact of this transition on the interest rates charged the Company and the terms of lending agreements are uncertain and could possibly adversely affect our financing costs, including spread pricing on our Credit Facility and variable rate unsecured term loans ( the "Term Loans") and certain other floating rate debt obligations, as well as our operations and cash flows.


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Failure to maintain our current credit ratings could adversely affect our cost of funds, related margins, liquidity and access to capital markets.

There are two major debt rating agencies that routinely evaluate and rate our debt. Their ratings are based on a number of factors, which include their assessment of our financial strength, liquidity, capital structure, asset quality, amount of real estate under development, and sustainability of cash flow and earnings, among other factors. If market conditions change, we may not be able to maintain our current credit ratings, which could adversely affect our cost of funds and related margins, liquidity and access to capital markets.

Debt financing may not be available and equity issuances could be dilutive to our stockholders.

Our ability to execute our business strategy depends on our access to cost effective debt and equity financing. Debt financing may not be available in sufficient amounts or on favorable terms. If we issue additional equity securities, the interests of existing stockholders could be diluted.

Failure to generate sufficient revenue or other liquidity needs could limit cash flow available for distributions to stockholders.

A decrease in rental revenue, or liquidity needs such as the repayment of indebtedness or funding of our development activities, could have an adverse effect on our ability to pay distributions to our stockholders. Significant expenditures associated with each community such as debt service payments, if any, real estate taxes, insurance and maintenance costs are generally not reduced when circumstances cause a reduction in income from a community.

The form, timing and/or amount of dividend distributions in future periods may vary and be impacted by economic and other considerations.

The form, timing and/or amount of dividend distributions will be declared at the discretion of the Board of Directors and will depend on actual cash from operations, our financial condition, capital requirements, the annual distribution requirements under the REIT provisions of the Code and other factors as the Board of Directors may consider relevant. The Board of Directors may modify our dividend policy from time to time.

We may choose to pay dividends in our own stock, in which case stockholders may be required to pay tax in excess of the cash they receive.

We may distribute taxable dividends that are payable in part in our stock. Taxable stockholders receiving such dividends will be required to include the full amount of the dividend as income to the extent of our current and accumulated earnings and profits for federal income tax purposes. As a result, a U.S. stockholder may be required to pay tax with respect to such dividends in excess of the cash dividend received. If a U.S. stockholder sells the stock it receives as a dividend in order to pay this tax, the sales proceeds may be less than the amount included in income with respect to the dividend, depending on the market price of our stock at the time of the sale. Furthermore, with respect to non-U.S. stockholders, we may be required to withhold U.S. tax with respect to such dividends, including in respect of all or a portion of such dividend that is payable in stock. In addition, the trading price of our stock would experience downward pressure if a significant number of our stockholders sell shares of our stock in order to pay taxes owed on dividends.

We may experience regulatory or economic barriers to selling apartment communities that could limit liquidity and financial flexibility.

Potential difficulties in selling real estate in our markets may limit our ability to change or reduce the apartment communities in our portfolio promptly in response to changes in economic or other conditions. Federal tax laws may limit our ability to earn a gain on the sale of a community (unless we own it through a subsidiary which will incur a taxable gain upon sale) if we are found to have held, acquired or developed the community primarily with the intent to resell the community, and this limitation may affect our ability to sell communities without adversely affecting returns to our stockholders. In addition, real estate in our markets can at times be difficult to sell quickly at prices we find acceptable.

From time to time we dispose of properties in transactions intended to qualify as “like-kind exchanges” under Section 1031 of the Code. If a transaction intended to qualify as a Section 1031 exchange is later determined to be taxable, we may face adverse tax consequences, and if the laws applicable to such transactions are amended or repealed, we may not be able to dispose of properties on a tax deferred basis.

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Acquisitions may not yield anticipated results.

Our business strategy includes acquiring as well as developing communities. Our acquisition activities may be exposed to the following risks:

an acquired property may fail to perform as we expected in analyzing our investment; and
our estimate of the costs of operating, repositioning or redeveloping an acquired property may prove inaccurate.

Failure to succeed in new markets, or with new brands and community formats, or in activities other than the development, ownership and operation of residential rental communities may have adverse consequences.

We may from time to time commence development activity or make acquisitions outside of our existing market areas if appropriate opportunities arise. For example, in 2017 we entered the Denver, Colorado, and Southeast Florida markets, where we have now engaged, and continue to pursue, development and acquisition opportunities. Our historical experience in our existing markets in developing, owning and operating rental communities does not ensure that we will be able to operate successfully in new markets. We may be exposed to a variety of risks when we enter a new market, including an inability to accurately evaluate local apartment market conditions; an inability to obtain land for development or to identify appropriate acquisition opportunities; an inability to hire and retain key personnel; and a lack of familiarity with local governmental and permitting procedures.

Although we are primarily in the multifamily rental business, we also own and lease ancillary retail and commercial space, in particular when such tenants represent the best use of the space, as is often the case with large urban in-fill developments. Gross rental revenue provided by leased retail/commercial space in our portfolio represented 1.4% of our total revenue in 2019. The long term nature of our retail/commercial leases and characteristics of many of our tenants (small, local businesses) may subject us to certain risks. We may not be able to lease new space for rents that are consistent with our projections or at market rates. Also, when leases for our existing retail/commercial space expire, the space may not be relet or the terms of reletting, including the cost of allowances and concessions to tenants, may be less favorable than the current lease terms. Our properties compete with other properties with retail/commercial space. The presence of competitive alternatives may affect our ability to lease space and the level of rents we can obtain. If our retail/commercial tenants experience financial distress or bankruptcy, they may fail to comply with their contractual obligations, seek concessions in order to continue operations or cease their operations, which could adversely impact our results of operations and financial condition.

We also may engage or have an interest in for-sale activity. For example, we are proceeding with the sale of the residential condominiums at The Park Loggia, a mixed-use development located in New York, New York. We may be unsuccessful at developing real estate with the intent to sell or in selling condominiums as a disposition strategy for an asset, which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

Land we hold with no current intent to develop may be subject to future impairment charges.

We own parcels of land that we do not currently intend to develop. As discussed in Item 2. “Communities—Other Land and Real Estate Assets,” in the event that the fair market value of a parcel changes such that we determine that the carrying basis of the parcel reflected in our financial statements is greater than the parcel's then current fair value, less costs to dispose, we would be subject to an impairment charge, which would reduce our net income.

We are exposed to various risks from our real estate activity through joint ventures.

Instead of acquiring, developing or maintaining ownership of apartment communities as a wholly-owned investment, at times we invest in real estate as a partner or a co-venturer with other investors. Joint venture investments (including investments through partnerships or limited liability companies) involve risks, including the possibility that our partner might become insolvent or otherwise refuse to make capital contributions when due; that we may be responsible to our partner for indemnifiable losses; that our partner might at any time have business goals that are inconsistent with ours; and that our partner may be in a position to take action or withhold consent contrary to our instructions or requests. Frequently, we and our partner may each have the right to trigger a buy-sell or similar arrangement that could cause us to sell our interest, acquire our partner's interest or force a sale of the asset, at a time when we otherwise would not have initiated such a transaction.


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We are exposed to risks associated with investment in and management of discretionary real estate investment funds and joint ventures.

We have investment interests in unconsolidated real estate entities (collectively, "ventures") ranging from 20.0% to 50.0%. The ventures present risks, including the following:

our subsidiaries that are the general partner or managing member of the ventures are generally liable, under applicable law or the governing agreement of a venture, for the debts and obligations of the respective venture, subject to certain exculpation and indemnification rights pursuant to the terms of the governing agreement;
investors in the ventures holding a majority of the equity interests may remove us as the general partner or managing member in certain cases involving cause;
while we have broad discretion to manage the ventures, the investors or an advisory committee comprised of representatives of the investors must approve certain matters, and as a result we may be unable to cause the ventures to implement certain decisions that we consider beneficial; and
we may be liable and/or our status as a REIT may be jeopardized if either the ventures, or the REIT entities associated with the ventures, fail to comply with various tax or other regulatory matters.

We are exposed to risks associated with real estate assets that are subject to ground leases that may restrict our ability to finance, sell or otherwise transfer our interests in those assets, limit our use and expose us to loss if such agreements are breached by us or terminated.

We own assets which are subject to the terms of long-term ground leases. These ground leases may impose limitations on our use of the properties, restrict our ability to finance, sell or otherwise transfer our interests in the properties or restrict the leasing of the properties. These restrictions may limit our ability to timely sell or exchange the properties, impair the properties’ value or negatively impact our ability to operate the properties. In addition, we could lose our interests in the properties if the ground leases are breached by us, terminated or lapse. As we get closer to the lease termination dates, the values of the properties could decrease if we are unable to agree upon an extension of the lease with the lessor. Certain of these ground leases have payments subject to annual escalations and/or periodic fair market value adjustments which could adversely affect our financial condition or results of operations.

We rely on information technology in our operations, and any breach, interruption or security failure of that technology, or any non-compliance with applicable laws with respect to the use of that technology, could have a negative impact on our business, results of operations, financial condition and/or reputation.

Information security risks have generally increased in recent years due to the rise in new technologies and the increased sophistication and activities of perpetrators of cyber attacks.

We collect and hold personally identifiable information of our residents and prospective residents in connection with our leasing and property management activities, and we collect and hold personally identifiable information of our associates in connection with their employment. In addition, we engage third party service providers that may have access to such personally identifiable information in connection with providing necessary information technology and security and other business services to us.

We address potential breaches or disclosure of this confidential personally identifiable information by implementing a variety of security measures intended to protect the confidentiality and security of this information including (among others) engaging reputable, recognized firms to help us design and maintain our information technology and data security systems, including testing and verification of their proper and secure operations on a periodic basis. We also maintain cyber risk insurance to provide some coverage for certain risks arising out of data and network breaches.

However, there can be no assurance that we will be able to prevent unauthorized access to this information. Any failure in or breach of our operational or information security systems, or those of our third party service providers, as a result of cyber attacks or information security breaches, could result in a wide range of potentially serious harm to our business operations and financial prospects, including (among others) disruption of our business and operations, disclosure or misuse of confidential or proprietary information (including personal information of our residents and/or associates), damage to our reputation, and/or potentially significant legal and/or financial liabilities and penalties.


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Various laws and regulations and interpretations thereof, as well as agreements with payment processors, require, or may require, us to comply with rules related to our websites for use by residents and prospective residents, including requirements related to accessibility of our websites to persons with disabilities and our handling and use of data we collect. We could face liabilities for failure to comply with these requirements. New statutes, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), and related regulations are evolving and may be subject to differing interpretations. We could incur costs to comply with stricter and more complex data privacy, data collection and information security laws and standards.

Expanding social media vehicles present new risks.

The use of social media could cause us to suffer brand damage or information leakage. Negative posts or comments about us on any social networking website could damage our reputation. In addition, employees or others might disclose non-public sensitive information relating to our business through external media channels. The continuing evolution of social media will present us with new challenges and risks.

We are exposed to risks that are either uninsurable, not economically insurable or in excess of our insurance coverage, including risks discussed below.

Earthquake risk. As further described in Item 2. “Communities—Insurance and Risk of Uninsured Losses,” many of our West Coast communities are located in the general vicinity of active earthquake faults. We cannot assure you that an earthquake would not cause damage or losses greater than insured levels. In the event of a loss in excess of insured limits, we could lose our capital invested in the affected community, as well as anticipated future revenue from that community. We would also continue to be obligated to repay any mortgage indebtedness or other obligations related to the community. Any such loss could materially and adversely affect our business and our financial condition and results of operations.

Insurance coverage for earthquakes can be costly and in limited supply. As a result, we may experience shortages in desired coverage levels if market conditions are such that insurance is not available or the cost of insurance makes it, in the Company's view, economically impractical.

Severe or inclement weather risk. We are exposed to risks associated with inclement or severe weather, including hurricanes, severe winter storms and coastal flooding. Severe or inclement weather may result in increased costs resulting from increased maintenance, repair of water and wind damage, removal of snow and ice, and, in the case of our Development Communities, delays in construction that result in increased construction costs and delays in realizing rental revenues from a community.

A single catastrophe that affects one of our regions, such as an earthquake that affects the West Coast or a hurricane or severe winter storm that affects the Mid-Atlantic, Metro New York/New Jersey or New England regions, may have a significant negative effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

Climate change risk. To the extent that significant changes in the climate occur in areas where our communities are located, we may experience extreme weather and changes in precipitation and temperature, all of which may result in physical damage to or a decrease in demand for properties located in these areas or affected by these conditions. Should the impact of climate change be material in nature, including significant property damage to or destruction of our communities, or occur for lengthy periods of time, our financial condition or results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, changes in federal, state and local legislation and regulation based on concerns about climate change could result in increased capital expenditures on our existing properties and our new development properties (for example, to improve their energy efficiency and/or resistance to inclement weather) without a corresponding increase in revenue, resulting in adverse impacts to our net income.

Terrorism risk. We have significant investments in large metropolitan markets, such as Metro New York/New Jersey and Washington, D.C., which have in the past been or may in the future be the target of actual or threatened terrorist attacks. Future terrorist attacks in these markets could directly or indirectly damage our communities, both physically and financially, or cause losses that exceed our insurance coverage and that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

A significant uninsured property or liability loss could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

In addition to the earthquake insurance discussed above, we carry commercial general liability insurance, property insurance and terrorism insurance with respect to our communities on terms and in amounts we consider commercially reasonable. There are, however, certain types of losses (such as losses arising from acts of war) that are not insured, in full or in part, because they are either uninsurable or the cost of insurance makes it, in the Company's view, economically impractical. If an uninsured property

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loss or a property loss in excess of insured limits were to occur, we could lose our capital invested in a community, as well as the anticipated future revenues from such community. We would also continue to be obligated to repay any mortgage indebtedness or other obligations related to the community. If an uninsured liability to a third party were to occur, we would incur the cost of defense and settlement with, or court ordered damages to, that third party. A significant uninsured property or liability loss could have a material adverse effect on our business and our financial condition and results of operations.

We may incur costs due to environmental contamination or non-compliance.

Under various federal, state and local environmental and public health laws, regulations and ordinances, we may be required, regardless of knowledge or responsibility, to investigate and remediate the effects of hazardous or toxic substances or petroleum product releases at our properties (including in some cases natural substances such as methane and radon gas) and may be held liable under these laws or common law to a governmental entity or to third parties for property, personal injury or natural resources damages and for investigation and remediation costs incurred as a result of the contamination. These damages and costs may be substantial and may exceed any insurance coverage we have for such events. The presence of these substances, or the failure to properly remediate the contamination, may adversely affect our ability to borrow against, develop, sell or rent the affected property. In addition, some environmental laws create or allow a government agency to impose a lien on the contaminated site in favor of the government for damages and costs it incurs as a result of the contamination.

The development, construction and operation of our communities are subject to regulations and permitting under various federal, state and local laws, regulations and ordinances, which regulate matters including wetlands protection, storm water runoff and wastewater discharge. These laws and regulations may impose restrictions on the manner in which our communities may be developed, and noncompliance with these laws and regulations may subject us to fines and penalties.

Certain federal, state and local laws, regulations and ordinances govern the removal, encapsulation or disturbance of asbestos containing materials (“ACMs”) when such materials are in poor condition or in the event of renovation or demolition of a building. These laws and the common law may impose liability for release of ACMs and may allow third parties to seek recovery from owners or operators of real properties for personal injury associated with exposure to ACMs. We are not aware that any ACMs were used in the construction of the communities we developed. ACMs were, however, used in the construction of a number of the communities that we have acquired. Although we implement an operations and maintenance program at each of the communities at which ACMs are detected, we may fail to adequately observe such program or a disturbance of ACMs may occur nevertheless, exposing us to liability.

We are aware that some of our communities have lead paint and have implemented an operations and maintenance program at each of those communities.
 
Environmental agencies and third parties may assert claims for remediation or personal injury based on the alleged actual or potential intrusion into buildings of chemical vapors from soils or groundwater underlying or in the vicinity of those buildings or on nearby properties.

All of our stabilized operating communities, and all of the communities that we are currently developing, have been subjected to at least a Phase I or similar environmental assessment, which generally does not involve invasive techniques such as soil or groundwater sampling. These assessments, together with subsurface assessments conducted on some properties, have not revealed, and we are not otherwise aware of, any environmental conditions that we believe would have a material adverse effect on our business, assets, financial condition or results of operations. In connection with our ownership, operation and development of communities, from time to time we undertake substantial remedial action in response to the presence of subsurface or other contaminants, including contaminants in soil, groundwater and soil vapor beneath or affecting our buildings. In some cases, an indemnity exists upon which we may be able to rely if environmental liability arises from the contamination or remediation costs exceed estimates. There can be no assurance, however, that all necessary remediation actions have been or will be undertaken at our properties or that we will be indemnified, in full or at all, in the event that environmental liability arises.

Mold growth may occur when excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or is not addressed over a period of time. Certain molds may in some instances lead to adverse health effects, including allergic or other reactions. To help limit mold growth, we educate residents about the importance of adequate ventilation and request or require that they notify us when they see mold or excessive moisture. We have established procedures for promptly addressing and remediating mold or excessive moisture from apartment homes when we become aware of its presence regardless of whether we or the resident believe a health risk is presented. However, we cannot provide assurance that mold or excessive moisture will be detected and remediated in a timely manner. If a significant mold problem arises at one of our communities, we could be required to undertake a costly remediation program to contain or remove the mold from the affected community and could be exposed to other liabilities that may exceed any applicable insurance coverage.

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Additionally, we have occasionally been involved in developing, managing, leasing and operating various properties for third parties. Consequently, we may be considered to have been an operator of such properties and, therefore, potentially liable for removal or remediation costs or other potential costs which relate to the release or presence of hazardous or toxic substances or petroleum products at such properties.

We cannot assure you that:

the environmental assessments described above have identified all potential environmental liabilities;
no prior owner created any material environmental condition not known to us or the consultants who prepared the assessments;
no environmental liabilities have developed since the environmental assessments were prepared;
the condition of land or operations in the vicinity of our communities, such as the presence of underground storage tanks, will not affect the environmental condition of our communities;
future uses or conditions, including, without limitation, changes in applicable environmental laws and regulations, will not result in the imposition of environmental liability; and
no environmental liabilities will arise at communities that we have sold for which we may have liability.

Our success depends on key personnel whose continued service is not guaranteed.

Our success depends in part on our ability to attract and retain the services of executive officers and other personnel. Our executive officers make important capital allocation decisions or recommendations to our Board of Directors from among the opportunities identified by our regional offices. There is substantial competition for qualified personnel in the real estate industry, and the loss of our key personnel could adversely affect the Company.

Failure to qualify as a REIT would cause us to be taxed as a corporation, which would significantly reduce funds available for distribution to stockholders.

If we fail to qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes, we will be subject to regular U.S. federal corporate income tax on our taxable income. In addition, unless we are entitled to relief under applicable statutory provisions, we would be ineligible to make an election for treatment as a REIT for the four taxable years following the year in which we lose our qualification. The additional tax liability resulting from the failure to qualify as a REIT would significantly reduce or eliminate the amount of funds available for distribution to our stockholders. Furthermore, we would no longer be required to make distributions to our stockholders. Thus, our failure to qualify as a REIT could also impair our ability to expand our business and raise capital, and would adversely affect the value of our common stock.

We believe that we are organized and qualified as a REIT, and we intend to operate in a manner that will allow us to continue to qualify as a REIT. However, we cannot assure you that we are qualified as a REIT, or that we will remain qualified in the future. This is because qualification as a REIT involves the application of highly technical and complex provisions of the Code for which there are only limited judicial and administrative interpretations and involves the determination of a variety of factual matters and circumstances not entirely within our control. Our qualification as a REIT will depend on our satisfaction of certain asset, income, organizational, distribution, shareholder ownership and other requirements on a continuing basis. In addition, future legislation, new regulations, administrative interpretations or court decisions may significantly change the tax laws or the application of the tax laws with respect to qualification as a REIT for federal income tax purposes or the federal income tax consequences of this qualification.

Even if we qualify as a REIT, we will be subject to certain federal, state and local taxes on our income and property and on taxable income that we do not distribute to our stockholders. In addition, we hold through our taxable REIT subsidiaries certain assets and engage in certain activities that a REIT could not engage in directly. We also use taxable REIT subsidiaries to hold certain assets that we believe would be subject to the 100% prohibited transaction tax if sold at a gain outside of a taxable REIT subsidiary or to engage in activities that generate non-qualifying REIT income. Our taxable REIT subsidiaries are subject to U.S. tax as regular corporations. The Archstone Acquisition increased the amount of assets held through our taxable REIT subsidiaries.


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Changes in U.S. accounting standards may materially and adversely affect the reporting of our operations.

The Company follows accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”). GAAP is established by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”), an independent body whose standards are recognized by the SEC as authoritative for publicly held companies. The FASB and the SEC create and interpret accounting standards and may issue new accounting pronouncements or change the interpretation and application of these standards that govern the preparation of our financial statements. These changes could have a material impact on our reported consolidated results of operations and financial position.

Prospective investors are urged to consult with their tax advisors regarding the effects of recently enacted tax legislation and other legislative, regulatory and administrative developments.

On December 22, 2017, H.R. 1, informally titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “TCJA”), was enacted. The TCJA made major changes to the Code, including a number of provisions of the Code that affect the taxation of REITs and their stockholders. The long-term effect of the significant changes made by the TCJA remains uncertain. The effect of any technical corrections with respect to the TCJA could have an adverse effect on us or our stockholders or holders of our debt securities.

The ability of our stockholders to control our policies and effect a change of control of our company is limited by certain provisions of our charter and bylaws and by Maryland law.

There are provisions in our charter and bylaws that may discourage a third party from making a proposal to acquire us, even if some of our stockholders might consider the proposal to be in their best interests. These provisions include the following:

Our charter authorizes our Board of Directors to issue up to 50,000,000 shares of preferred stock without stockholder approval and to establish the preferences and rights, including voting rights, of any series of preferred stock issued. The Board of Directors may issue preferred stock without stockholder approval, which could allow the Board to issue one or more classes or series of preferred stock that could discourage or delay a tender offer or a change in control.

To maintain our qualification as a REIT for federal income tax purposes, not more than 50% in value of our outstanding stock may be owned, directly or indirectly, by or for five or fewer individuals at any time during the last half of any taxable year. To maintain this qualification, and/or to address other concerns about concentrations of ownership of our stock, our charter generally prohibits ownership (directly, indirectly by virtue of the attribution provisions of the Code, or beneficially as defined in Section 13 of the Securities Exchange Act) by any single stockholder of more than 9.8% of the issued and outstanding shares of any class or series of our stock. In general, under our charter, pension plans and mutual funds may directly and beneficially own up to 15% of the outstanding shares of any class or series of stock. Under our charter, our Board of Directors may in its sole discretion waive or modify the ownership limit for one or more persons, but it is not required to do so even if such waiver would not affect our qualification as a REIT. These ownership limits may prevent or delay a change in control and, as a result, could adversely affect our stockholders' ability to realize a premium for their shares of common stock.

As a Maryland corporation, we are subject to the provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law. Maryland law imposes restrictions on some business combinations and requires compliance with statutory procedures before some mergers and acquisitions may occur, which may delay or prevent offers to acquire us or increase the difficulty of completing any offers, even if they are in our stockholders' best interests. In addition, other provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law permit the Board of Directors to make elections and to take actions without stockholder approval (such as classifying our Board such that the entire Board is not up for re-election annually) that, if made or taken, could have the effect of discouraging or delaying a change in control.

ITEM 1B.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.


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ITEM 2.    COMMUNITIES

Our real estate investments consist primarily of current operating apartment communities, communities in various stages of development (“Development Communities”) and Development Rights (as defined below). Our current operating communities are further distinguished as Established Communities, Other Stabilized Communities, Lease-Up Communities, Redevelopment Communities and Unconsolidated Communities. While we generally establish the classification of communities on an annual basis, we intend to update the classification of communities during the calendar year to the extent that our plans with regard to the disposition or redevelopment of a community change during the year. The following is a description of each category:

Current Communities are categorized as Established, Other Stabilized, Lease-Up, Redevelopment or Unconsolidated according to the following attributes:

Established Communities (also known as Same Store Communities) for the year ended December 31, 2019 are consolidated communities in the markets where we have a significant presence (New England, New York/New Jersey, Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Northwest, and Northern and Southern California) and where a comparison of operating results from the prior year to the current year is meaningful, as these communities were owned and had Stabilized Occupancy, as defined below, as of the beginning of the respective prior year. The Established Communities for the year ended December 31, 2019 are communities that are consolidated for financial reporting purposes, had Stabilized Occupancy as of January 1, 2018, are not conducting or planning to conduct substantial redevelopment activities, and are not held for sale or planned for disposition within the fiscal year. A community is considered to have Stabilized Occupancy at the earlier of (i) attainment of 95% physical occupancy or (ii) the one-year anniversary of completion of development or redevelopment.

Beginning January 1, 2020, we have updated our definition of Stabilized Occupancy as the earlier of (i) attainment of 90% physical occupancy or (ii) the one-year anniversary of completion of development or redevelopment. In addition, beginning January 1, 2020, Established Communities will also include consolidated communities in our expansion markets of Denver, Colorado, and Southeast Florida. These changes will be applied prospectively to all periods presented.

Other Stabilized Communities are all other completed consolidated communities that have Stabilized Occupancy, as of January 1, 2019, or which were acquired during the years ended December 31, 2019 or 2018. Other Stabilized Communities for the year ended December 31, 2019 includes stabilized operating communities in our expansion markets of Denver, Colorado, and Southeast Florida, but excludes communities that are conducting or planning to conduct substantial redevelopment activities within the fiscal year.

Lease-Up Communities are consolidated communities where construction has been complete for less than one year and that do not have Stabilized Occupancy.

Redevelopment Communities are consolidated communities where substantial redevelopment is in progress or is planned to begin during the fiscal year. Redevelopment is considered substantial when capital invested during the reconstruction effort is expected to exceed the lesser of $5,000,000 or 10% of the community's pre-redevelopment cost basis and is expected to have a material impact on the operations of the community, including occupancy levels and future rental rates.

Beginning January 1, 2020, we have updated our definition of Redevelopment Communities, to consist of consolidated communities that have (i) substantial redevelopment in progress or that is planned to begin during the fiscal year, through a capital investment during the reconstruction effort that is expected to exceed the lesser of $5,000,000 or 10% of the community's pre-redevelopment cost basis and (ii) physical occupancy that is below or is expected to be below 90% during or as a result of the redevelopment activity. These changes will be applied prospectively to all periods presented.

Unconsolidated Communities are communities that we have an indirect ownership interest in through our investment interest in an unconsolidated entity. Unconsolidated Communities that are under development are presented as Development Communities.

Development Communities are communities that are either currently under construction, or were under construction and completed during the fiscal year. These communities may be partially complete and operating.


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Development Rights are development opportunities in the early phase of the development process where we either have an option to acquire land or enter into a leasehold interest, where we are the buyer under a long-term conditional contract to purchase land, where we control the land through a ground lease or own land to develop a new community, or where we are the designated developer in a public-private partnership. We capitalize related pre-development costs incurred in pursuit of new developments for which we currently believe future development is probable.

We currently lease our corporate headquarters located in Arlington, Virginia, as well as our other regional and administrative offices under operating leases.

As of December 31, 2019, communities that we owned or held a direct or indirect interest in were classified as follows:
 
Number of
communities