Sam Zell's Equity Residential, the country's largest apartment landlord, is the new owner of the Moda apartments in Seattle's Belltown.

Sam Zell’s Equity Residential, the country’s largest apartment landlord, is the new owner of the Moda apartments in Seattle’s Belltown.

Equity bought the 251-unit complex this month from its developer, HMI Real Estate of Mercer Island, for $49.5 million, according to public records.

Moda, on Third Avenue between Bell and Battery streets, was built as a condominium, but switched to rentals shortly before it opened in 2008 after the real-estate market tanked.

Moda is the second Seattle purchase this year for Equity, which owns or has an interest in about 30 apartment complexes in the area. In March it bought a six-story office building near the Alaskan Way Viaduct with plans to redevelop it someday.