No one can predict the future of real estate, but you can prepare. Find out what to prepare for and pick up the tools you’ll need at Virtual Inman Connect on Nov. 1-2, 2023. And don’t miss Inman Connect New York on Jan. 23-25, 2024, where AI, capital and more will be center stage. Bet big on the future and join us at Connect.
Commercial real estate has faced its struggles in the wake of the pandemic, with many workers staying away from offices and long-gone retail spaces remaining unoccupied.
But America’s real estate tycoons have still continued to grow their wealth in the last year despite these challenges, Forbes’ analysis of the 400 richest people in America shows. On the 2023 Forbes 400 list, 25 billionaires have gained their fortunes primarily through real estate. Collectively, those real estate tycoons are worth about $139 billion, or about $5 billion more than the 24 real estate-made billionaires who were included in Forbes’ 2022 rankings.
Those billionaires involved in the rental and industrial real estate sectors have seen more profits come in as national rents have increased by almost 3 percent in the last year and the boom in e-commerce has allowed warehouse and logistics facility owners to thrive.
The real estate tycoons who have been less fortunate, however, have included Donald Trump, who fell off the Forbes 400 list for the second time in three years, and Related Companies founder Stephen Ross, whose fortune shrank by about $1.5 billion in the last year (although he remains one of the wealthiest real estate billionaires today).
The richest real estate billionaire in the U.S. this year is Donald Bren, owner of development corporation the Irvine Company, whose net worth rose from $17.4 billion in 2022 to about $18 billion.
Discover the remaining richest real estate billionaires today below.
Net worth: $18 billion
Residence: Newport Beach, California
Bren’s real estate empire through Irvine Companies includes more than 129 million square feet of office buildings, apartments and shopping malls in California, plus a 97.5 percent stake in the MetLife Building in Manhattan, three office towers in Chicago and two golf courses. The Irvine Company sold two Orange County hotels in 2022 for about $300 million and is shelling out $30 million for a renovation on its 300 North LaSalle office tower in Chicago.
Net worth: $10.1 billion
Residence: New York, New York
Ross transitioned to real estate development from being a tax attorney when he founded Related Companies in 1972. The company began with a focus on affordable housing but has been involved in a number of high-end developments, including Hudson Yards. Related has also been working to grow its presence into South Florida, and is now the largest owner of commercial real estate in West Palm Beach. Ross sold his Columbus Circle penthouse in January for $40 million, and moved to 35 Hudson Yards. He also owns the Miami Dolphins.
Net worth: $8.1 billion
Residence: New York, New York
Stern founded Hartz Mountain Industries, a company with significant industrial real estate holdings in the New York metro area, as well as in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey and the Carolinas. Demand for industrial properties and apartments has helped Stern grow his net worth by about $500 million in the last year. New York University’s business school is also named after Stern, who donated $30 million to the school in 1988.
Net worth: $7.7 billion
Residence: Lighthouse Point, Florida
Olenicoff, who grew up in the Soviet Union and fled with his family as a teenager, is the founder of Olen Properties, which has more than 17,000 residential units across eight states in the Southwest and Southeast. Olenicoff purchased two apartment complexes this year in Duluth, Georgia, and Raleigh, North Carolina, at a price tag of $165 million.
Net worth: $7.5 billion
Residence: Palm Beach, Florida
Greene found a cash cow buying credit default swaps on subprime mortgage-backed bonds during the housing crisis in 2007 and 2008, bringing in $800 million. He then went and put that money into a portfolio of apartments, condos, hotels and office buildings across California, Florida and New York. A steady stream of condo sales and rent growth on his properties in Los Angeles, Manhattan and south Florida have garnered him a boost in net worth of about $300 million.
Edward Roski, Jr.
Net worth: $7.4 billion
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Roski Jr.’s development company, the L.A.-based Majestic Realty Co., was founded by his father, Edward Roski, Sr. in 1948. The firm holds more than 90 million square feet of industrial, office, sports, entertainment and hospitality properties. Roski Jr. is also a minority owner of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the NBA’s Lakers. He also led development of Crypto.com arena in the ’90s, where both teams play.
Annette Lerner and family
Net worth: $6.5 billion
Residence: Chevy Chase, Maryland
Lerner and her three children, Mark, Debra and Marla, inherited the real estate fortune of her late husband, Ted Lerner, after he passed in February. In 1952, the couple launched Lerner Enterprises, after Annette gave Ted a $250 loan to start the real estate company. The business grew into one of the largest property owners in the D.C. metro area, with holdings across office, residential, retail, hospitality and sports and entertainment. Annette and the kids are also majority owners of the Washington Nationals baseball team and minority investors in Monumental Sports, parent company of the NBA team Washington Wizards, the NHL team Washington Capitals and the WNBA team Washington Mystics.
Net worth: $6.3 billion
Residence: Chicago, Illinois
Bluhm owns a gambling and real estate empire that spans from Chicago to Los Angeles and includes LA’s Century City Center, a 700,000-square-foot office tower that will become home to talent and sports agency CAA upon completion in 2026. Reports have also linked Bluhm to a joint endeavor with real estate investment trust Vornado to vie for one of New York’s casino licenses, with sights set on the area around Penn Station.
John A. Sobrato and family
Net worth: $5.9 billion
Residence: Atherton, California
Sobrato got into real estate investing as a young student at Santa Clara University, then transitioned to developing industrial properties with his mother, ultimately founding the Sobrato Organization in 1979. Sobrato’s son, John Michael, took up leadership of the company in 1998, then passed his title on to former chief investment officer Matthew Sonsini in 2018. The Sobrato Foundation purchased a 68-unit building in Santa Clara as a pilot project to help with Silicon Valley’s affordable housing crisis.
Net worth: $5.8 billion
Residence: Charleston, South Carolina
Faith founded and is the majority owner of real estate investment and development giant Greystar. The company is the largest manager of apartments and multifamily developers in the country with over $240 billion of real estate assets across five different continents. The company’s investment management platform oversees more than $75 billion in assets. Greystar acquired Student Roost, the third-largest student housing provider in the U.K., in December for an undisclosed amount alongside Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC.