HRPT Properties (NYSE: HRP) is a Newton, Massachusetts based Real estate investment trust or REIT that acquires and manages office buildings, industrial buildings, and leased industrial land. HRP owns 518 properties and 66.8 million sq. ft. of space, and has holdings in 34 states and the District of Columbia. The company's top five markets (Philadelphia, Washington DC, Oahu (Hawaii), Boston, and Southern California) account for 50% of net rents, and the U.S. government and the medical sector represent a third of the company's revenues. HRP's traditionally conservative business model comes with risks, however, as it does not opportunistically redevelop and sell its properties, a practice that has netted big returns for its competitors.
HRP also differs from most other REIT's in that it does not manage its own properties. Instead, it outsources property management to an external advisory group, Reit Management and Research LLC (RMR), which is owned by HRP's managing trustees. RMR is paid a percentage of total real estate under management, meaning the more properties the company manages, the more it gets paid. This creates a potential conflict of interest, as RMR may be more concerned with increasing quantity of assets rather than returns on existing properties.
While much of HRP's worth is tied up in its top five markets, which are dense urban business centers, its growth strategy has been focused on suburban locations. Its most recent acquisitions, for example, were properties in Maryland and South Carolina. Major challenges for HRP in these areas include relatively lax commercial zoning laws and plenty of available land. This leads to low barriers to entry, which allows for new construction and can slow the growth of the rental market. This competition may make it difficult for HRP to build revenues in suburban locations, especially in times of recession when there is slower growth and little demand for new office space.
In 2009, HRP earned a total of $850 million in total revenues. This was an increase from its 2008 total revenues of $837 million. However, HRP's net income did not benefit from the increase in total revenues. Between 2008 and 2009, HRP's net income declined from $245 million in 2008 to $165 million in 2009.
HRPT Properties divides its properties into 2 categories, "security" and "growth," each comprising about half of HRP's total portfolio.
These properties are characterized as "Properties leased to U.S. and other government tenants and medical related tenants, and Hawaii land leases." HRP believes the tenants of these properties are less affected by U.S. Economic Cycles and also tend to sign longer term leases.
These properties are "office and industrial properties with strong...appreciation potential" but presumably in less attractive locations and rented to less creditworthy tenants. HRP generally does not seek properties that require extensive repairs or development, preferring "well located, high quality properties" instead. 
REITs like HRP are especially sensitive to credit availability because Federal tax requirements stipulate that they must return at least 90% of earnings to shareholders. As a result, HRP cannot use cash generated from its operations to fund expansion, rather it must obtain financing from the credit markets. HRP has a light debt load since the large majority of its properties are owned unencumbered by mortgages. Also, when taking on new debt, HRP designs the maturity dates of its debt to be spread out, so that the effects of temporary market conditions that could make refinancing that debt difficult is limited. These measures have largely protected HRP from the credit shortage hurting other REITs.
While the liquidity crisis most directly affects the Financial Services industry, a tight credit market could eventually cause slower growth or even recession within the wider economy. An economic slowdown would negatively affect nearly all of HRP's tenants, likely reducing their demand for office space. However, HRP appears to be better insulated than many of its competitors from these broader economic changes since a large portion of its properties are leased to various levels of Government and healthcare providers, two sectors less influenced by economic variations.
HRP owns properties in more that twenty five states all across America. While this diversification might be useful in preventing over-reliance on any one regional economy, one wonders whether HRP's management can thoroughly understand business conditions in such diverse areas. Furthermore, in many of the suburban areas where HRP owns properties, there are low barriers to entry that allow for plenty of competition and drive rent prices down. On the other hand, these are the areas of the country where growth is most rapid, presenting a big upside for HRP.
HRPT holds 8% of total U.S. office REIT market share and was the fourth largest office REIT, by revenues. There are 14 U.S. exchange traded REITs focusing on office properties. Of those, the top three are Boston Properties (BXP), Brookfield Properties (BPO) and SL Green Realty (SLG).
The companies listed below focus almost entirely on office properties. While HRP owns many office properties, its holdings are more diverse and also include many healthcare facilities and industrial properties. Additionally, HRP owns real estate all across the United States, whereas these competitors focus on a select region or group of metropolitan markets. Both differences should be kept in mind while reviewing this chart.
Another crucial difference is HRP's focus on acquisitions, rather than development of existing properties. HRP's unusual structure of outsourcing management of its properties to RMR creates a high cost of capital for the firm, as it must constantly finance new acquisitions in order to drive profits. HRP does not get the additional revenues that competitors such as Boston Properties (BXP) earn when they buy property and hold it until it matures and can be sold at a significant profit, managing the property and collecting rents while they wait for the value to appreciate.