Essex Property Trust is vying to acquire BRE Properties for about $5 billion, according to sources. Both companies have a strong and exclusive footprint on the West Coast, which is one reason the transaction is being pursued. "You’ve got two companies with basically the same properties, yet the public costs are elevated because you have two sets of management teams and you have two sets of property operations," says Alexander Goldfarb, a REIT analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners.

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