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Essex Property Trust, Inc. (ESS - Snapshot Report), a real estate investment trust (REIT), recently provided the information regarding its acquisition activity in third-quarter 2012. The company announced that it has acquired four communities - Riley Square, Park West, Domaine and Ascent - comprising 464 units for a total price of $119.8 million. The first two communities - Riley Square and Park West - are located in California and the rest are based in Washington.

Riley Square, a community comprising of 156 apartment units, is  located near Mervyn’s Plaza Shopping Center, Sunken Gardens Golf Course and Paramount's Great America in the Santa Clara area of California. The community was purchased as a joint venture for $38.3 million in August 2012.

Park West, a community comprising 126 apartments and six different buildings, is located adjacent to the shops and restaurants of Irving Street, Golden Gate Park and Museums in San Francisco. Essex Property acquired the community in late September 2012 for $31.6 million.

Of the two Washington-based communities, the first was a 92-unit property named Domaine, acquired for $34 million. The community was purchased in late September 2012, is strategically located in Seattle and provides a modern urban living experience.

The second Washington-based community – Ascent – is a 90-unit community in Kirkland. The community was purchased in October for $15.9 million. It is situated near the Montebello Apartments, which was acquired by the company in July 2012.

Essex property is highly active on acquiring, constructing and managing multifamily residential properties positioned in highly desirable, supply-constrained markets across the West Coast. With the acquisition of the four communities, it now owns around 165 multifamily properties in Washington and California, with an additional nine properties in various stages of development.

The company, competes with the likes of Post Properties Inc. (PPS - Snapshot Report), and is expected to release its third-quarter 2012 results on October 31. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for third quarter FFO (fund from operations) is currently pegged at $1.69 per share.

We currently have a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. It also carries a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

Note: FFO, a widely accepted and reported measure of the performance of REITs is derived by adding depreciation, amortization and other non-cash expenses to net income.

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