Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Accounting Policies

v2.4.0.6
Accounting Policies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2011
Regulated Operations [Abstract]  
Accounting Policies
ACCOUNTING POLICIES

Principles of Consolidation and Basis of Presentation
The accompanying audited consolidated financial statements include the consolidated accounts of WRIT, its majority-owned subsidiaries and entities in which WRIT has a controlling interest, including where WRIT has been determined to be a primary beneficiary of a variable interest entity (“VIE”). See note 3 to the consolidated financial statements for additional information on the properties for which there is a noncontrolling interest. All intercompany balances and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation.
We have prepared the accompanying audited financial statements pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, in the opinion of management, all adjustments (consisting of normal recurring accruals) considered necessary for a fair presentation of the results for the periods presented have been included.
New Accounting Pronouncements
In May 2011, the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") issued Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") ASU No. 2011-04, Fair Value Measurement, which requires new disclosures about fair value measurements. Specifically, additional disclosures are required regarding significant unobservable inputs used for Level 3 fair value measurements, a company's valuation process, transfers between Levels 1 and 2, and hierarchy classifications for items whose fair value is not recorded on the balance sheet, but disclosed in the notes. For WRIT, the primary impact of this ASU is to require disclosure of the hierarchy classifications (Level 1, 2 or 3) for our disclosures of the fair values of financial instruments in our notes to the consolidated financial statements. This ASU is effective for fiscal years (including interim periods) beginning after December 15, 2011.
In June 2011, the FASB issued ASU 2011-05, Comprehensive Income, which requires the presentation of comprehensive income either in a single continuous statement of comprehensive income or in two separate but consecutive statements. This ASU eliminates the option of presenting the components of other comprehensive income as part of the statement of changes in shareholders' equity. This ASU is effective for fiscal years (including interim periods) beginning after December 15, 2011. For WRIT, the primary impact of this ASU is to require presentation of single continuous statement of comprehensive income or in two separate but consecutive statements.
Revenue Recognition
We lease multifamily properties under operating leases with terms of generally one year or less. We lease commercial properties (our office, medical office and retail segments) under operating leases with average terms of three to five years. We recognize rental income and rental abatements from our multifamily and commercial leases when earned on a straight-line basis over the lease term. Recognition of rental income commences when control of the facility has been given to the tenant. We record a provision for losses on accounts receivable equal to the estimated uncollectible amounts. We base this estimate on our historical experience and a review of the current status of our receivables. We recognize percentage rents, which represent additional rents based on gross tenant sales, when tenants’ sales exceed specified thresholds.
We recognize sales of real estate at closing only when sufficient down payments have been obtained, possession and other attributes of ownership have been transferred to the buyer and we have no significant continuing involvement.
We recognize cost reimbursement income from pass-through expenses on an accrual basis over the periods in which the expenses were incurred. Pass-through expenses are comprised of real estate taxes, operating expenses and common area maintenance costs which are reimbursed by tenants in accordance with specific allowable costs per tenant lease agreements.
Accounts Receivable and Allowance for Doubtful Accounts
Accounts receivable primarily represents amounts accrued and unpaid from tenants in accordance with the terms of the respective leases, subject to our revenue recognition policy. We review receivables monthly and establish reserves when, in the opinion of management, collection of the receivable is doubtful. We established reserves for doubtful accounts of $3.9 million, $3.4 million and $5.1 million during the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. Write-offs of accounts receivable totaled $2.4 million, $1.2 million and $3.8 million for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. We establish reserves for tenants whose rent payment history or financial condition casts doubt upon the tenants’ ability to perform under their lease obligations. When we deem the collection of a receivable to be doubtful in the same quarter that we established the receivable, then we recognize the allowance for that receivable as an offset to real estate revenues. When we deem a receivable that was initially established in a prior quarter to be doubtful, then we recognize the allowance as an operating expense. In addition to rents due currently, accounts receivable include amounts representing minimal rental income accrued on a straight-line basis to be paid by tenants over the remaining term of their respective leases.
We include the following notes receivable balances in our accounts receivable balances (in millions):
 
December 31, 2011
 
December 31, 2010
Notes receivable, net
$
7.3

 
$
8.1


Deferred Financing Costs
We capitalize and amortize external costs associated with the issuance or assumption of mortgages, notes payable and fees associated with the lines of credit using the effective interest rate method or the straight-line method which approximates the effective interest rate method over the term of the related debt. As of December 31, 2011 and 2010 deferred financing costs were included in prepaid expenses and other assets as follows (in millions):
 
December 31,
 
2011
 
2010
 
Gross Carrying
Value
 
Accumulated
Amortization
 
Net
 
Gross Carrying
Value
 
Accumulated
Amortization
 
Net
Deferred financing costs
$
16.1

 
7.6

 
$
8.5

 
$
13.8

 
6.7

 
$
7.1


We record the amortization of deferred financing costs as interest expense. Amortization of deferred financing costs for the three years ended December 31, 2011 was as follows (in millions):
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
Deferred financing costs amortization
$
2.3

 
$
2.4

 
$
3.1



Deferred Leasing Costs
We capitalize and amortize costs associated with the successful negotiation of leases, both external commissions and internal direct costs, on a straight-line basis over the terms of the respective leases. As of December 31, 2011 and 2010 deferred leasing costs were included in prepaid expenses and other assets as follows (in millions):
 
December 31,
 
2011
 
2010
 
Gross Carrying
Value
 
Accumulated
Amortization
 
Net
 
Gross Carrying
Value
 
Accumulated
Amortization
 
Net
Deferred leasing costs
$
33.4

 
12.7

 
$
20.7

 
$
31.6

 
12.1

 
$
19.5


We record the amortization of deferred leasing costs as amortization expense. If an applicable lease terminates prior to the expiration of its initial lease term, we write off the carrying amount of the costs to amortization expense. Amortization and writes-offs of deferred leasing costs for the three years ended December 31, 2011 were as follows (in millions):
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
Deferred leasing costs amortization
$
4.6

 
$
4.4

 
$
4.0


We capitalize and amortize against revenue leasing incentives associated with the successful negotiation of leases on a straight-line basis over the terms of the respective leases. As of December 31, 2011 and 2010 deferred leasing incentives were included in prepaid expenses and other assets as follows (in millions):
 
December 31,
 
2011
 
2010
 
Gross
Carrying
Value
 
Accumulated
Amortization
 
Net
 
Gross
Carrying
Value
 
Accumulated
Amortization
 
Net
Deferred leasing incentives
$
4.8

 
1.0

 
$
3.8

 
$
2.6

 
0.4

 
$
2.2


If an applicable lease terminates prior to the expiration of its initial lease term, we write off the carrying amount of the costs as a reduction of revenue. We record the amortization of deferred leasing incentives as a reduction of revenue. Amortization and write-offs of deferred leasing costs for the three years ended December 31, 2011 were as follows (in millions):
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
Deferred leasing incentives amortization
$
0.7

 
$
0.2

 
$
0.1


Real Estate and Depreciation
We depreciate buildings on a straight-line basis over estimated useful lives ranging from 28 to 50 years. We capitalize all capital improvement expenditures associated with replacements, improvements or major repairs to real property that extend its useful life and depreciate them using the straight-line method over their estimated useful lives ranging from 3 to 30 years. We also capitalize costs incurred in connection with our development projects, including capitalizing interest and other internal costs during periods in which qualifying expenditures have been made and activities necessary to get the development projects ready for their intended use are in progress. In addition, we capitalize tenant leasehold improvements when certain criteria are met, including when we supervise construction and will own the improvements. We depreciate all tenant improvements over the shorter of the useful life of the improvements or the term of the related tenant lease. Real estate depreciation expense from continuing operations for the three years ended December 31, 2011 was as follows (in millions):
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
Real estate depreciation
$
71.2

 
$
64.8

 
$
62.3


We charge maintenance and repair costs that do not extend an asset’s life to expense as incurred.

We capitalize interest costs incurred on borrowing obligations while qualifying assets are being readied for their intended use. Total interest expense capitalized to real estate assets related to development and major renovation activities for the three years ended December 31, 2010 was as follows (in millions):
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
Capitalized interest
$
0.7

 
$
0.9

 
$
1.4


We amortize capitalized interest over the useful life of the related underlying assets upon those assets being placed into service.
We recognize impairment losses on long-lived assets used in operations and held for sale, development assets or land held for future development, if indicators of impairment are present and the net undiscounted cash flows estimated to be generated by those assets are less than the assets' carrying amount and estimated undiscounted cash flows associated with future development expenditures. If such carrying amount is in excess of the estimated cash flows from the operation and disposal of the property, we would recognize an impairment loss equivalent to an amount required to adjust the carrying amount to the estimated fair value. The estimated fair value would be calculated in accordance with current GAAP fair value provisions. During 2011, we recognized in continuing operations an impairment charge of $14.5 million for the development project at Dulles Station, Phase II. In addition, we recognized in discontinued operations an impairment charge of $0.6 million at Dulles Station, Phase I, which was sold during 2011 (see note 3 to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion). During 2009 we expensed $0.1 million, included in general and administrative expenses, related to development projects no longer considered probable of completion. There were no impairments recognized during the year ended December 31, 2010.
We record real estate acquisitions as business combinations in accordance with GAAP. We record acquired or assumed assets, including physical assets and in-place leases, and liabilities, based on their fair values. We record goodwill when the purchase price exceeds the fair value of the assets and liabilities acquired. We determine the estimated fair values of the assets and liabilities in accordance with current GAAP fair value provisions. We determine the fair values of acquired buildings on an “as-if-vacant” basis considering a variety of factors, including the replacement cost of the property, estimated rental and absorption rates, estimated future cash flows and valuation assumptions consistent with current market conditions. We determine the fair value of land based on comparisons to similar properties that have been recently marketed for sale or sold.
The fair value of in-place leases consists of the following components – (a) the estimated cost to us to replace the leases, including foregone rents during the period of finding a new tenant and foregone recovery of tenant pass-throughs (referred to as “absorption cost”), (b) the estimated cost of tenant improvements, and other direct costs associated with obtaining a new tenant (referred to as “tenant origination cost”); (c) estimated leasing commissions associated with obtaining a new tenant (referred to as “leasing commissions”); (d) the above/at/below market cash flow of the leases, determined by comparing the projected cash flows of the leases in place to projected cash flows of comparable market-rate leases (referred to as “net lease intangible”); and (e) the value, if any, of customer relationships, determined based on our evaluation of the specific characteristics of each tenant’s lease and our overall relationship with the tenant (referred to as “customer relationship value”). We have attributed no value to customer relationship value as of December 31, 2011 and 2010.
We discount the amounts used to calculate net lease intangibles using an interest rate which reflects the risks associated with the leases acquired. We include tenant origination costs in income producing property on our balance sheet and amortize the tenant origination costs as depreciation expense on a straight-line basis over the remaining life of the underlying leases. We classify leasing commissions and absorption costs as other assets and amortize leasing commissions and absorption costs as amortization expense on a straight-line basis over the remaining life of the underlying leases. We classify net lease intangible assets as other assets and amortize them on a straight-line basis as a decrease to real estate rental revenue over the remaining term of the underlying leases. We classify net lease intangible liabilities as other liabilities and amortize them on a straight-line basis as an increase to real estate rental revenue over the remaining term of the underlying leases. Should a tenant terminate its lease, we accelerate the amortization of the unamortized portion of the tenant origination cost, leasing commissions, absorption costs and net lease intangible associated with that lease, over its new, shorter term.

Balances, net of accumulated depreciation or amortization, as appropriate, of the components of the fair value of in-place leases at December 31, 2011 and 2010 are as follows (in millions):
 
December 31,
 
2011
 
2010
 
Gross
Carrying
Value
 
Accumulated
Amortization
 
Net
 
Gross
Carrying
Value
 
Accumulated
Amortization
 
Net
Tenant origination costs
$
55.7

 
$
25.5

 
$
30.2

 
$
40.5

 
$
19.6

 
$
20.9

Leasing commissions/absorption costs
$
86.7

 
$
34.8

 
$
51.9

 
$
58.0

 
$
24.9

 
$
33.1

Net lease intangible assets
$
14.5

 
$
5.7

 
$
8.8

 
$
7.6

 
$
4.3

 
$
3.3

Net lease intangible liabilities
$
32.0

 
$
19.3

 
$
12.7

 
$
29.8

 
$
16.1

 
$
13.7

Below-market ground lease intangible asset
$
12.1

 
$
0.8

 
$
11.3

 
$
12.1

 
$
0.6

 
$
11.5


Amortization of these components combined was as follows (in millions):
 
2011
 
2010
 
2009
Amortization
$
15.4

 
$
7.7

 
$
7.3


Amortization of these components combined over the next five years is projected to be as follows (in millions):
 
 
Amortization
2012
$
19.4

2013
$
15.8

2014
$
13.7

2015
$
11.3

2016
$
8.2


Discontinued Operations
We classify properties as held for sale when they meet the necessary criteria, which include: (a) senior management commits to and actively embarks upon a plan to sell the assets, (b) the sale is expected to be completed within one year under terms usual and customary for such sales and (c) actions required to complete the plan indicate that it is unlikely that significant changes to the plan will be made or that the plan will be withdrawn. We generally consider that a property has met these criteria when a sale of the property has been approved by the Board of Trustees, or a committee with authorization from the Board, there are no known significant contingencies related to the sale and management believes it is probable that the sale will be completed within one year. Depreciation on these properties is discontinued, but operating revenues, operating expenses and interest expense continue to be recognized until the date of sale.
Revenues and expenses of properties that are either sold or classified as held for sale are presented as discontinued operations for all periods presented in the consolidated statements of income. Interest on debt that can be identified as specifically attributed to these properties is included in discontinued operations. We do not have significant continuing involvement in the operations of any of our disposed properties.
Cash and Cash Equivalents
Cash and cash equivalents include investments readily convertible to known amounts of cash with original maturities of 90 days or less.
Restricted Cash

Restricted cash at December 31, 2011 and December 31, 2010 consisted of $19.4 million and $20.5 million, respectively, in funds escrowed for tenant security deposits, real estate tax, insurance and mortgage escrows and escrow deposits required by lenders on certain of our properties to be used for future building renovations or tenant improvements.

Stock Based Compensation
We currently maintain equity based compensation plans for trustees, officers and employees and previously also maintained option plans for trustees, officers and employees.
We recognize compensation expense for service-based share awards ratably over the period from the service inception date through the vesting period based on the fair market value of the shares on the date of grant. We initially measure compensation expense for awards with performance conditions at fair value at the service inception date based on probability of payout, and we remeasure compensation expense at subsequent reporting dates until all of the award’s key terms and conditions are known and the grant date is established. We amortize awards with performance conditions over the performance period using the graded expense method. We measure compensation expense for awards with market conditions based on the grant date fair value, as determined using a Monte Carlo simulation, and we amortize the expense ratably over the requisite service period, regardless of whether the market conditions are achieved and the awards ultimately vest. Compensation expense for the trustee grants, which fully vest immediately, is fully recognized upon issuance based upon the fair market value of the shares on the date of grant.
Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes
We can recognize a tax benefit only if it is “more likely than not” that a particular tax position will be sustained upon examination or audit. To the extent that the “more likely than not” standard has been satisfied, the benefit associated with a tax position is measured as the largest amount that is greater than 50% likely of being recognized upon settlement.
We are subject to U.S. federal income tax as well as income tax of the states of Maryland and Virginia, and the District of Columbia. However, as a REIT, we generally are not subject to income tax on our net income distributed as dividends to our shareholders.
Tax returns filed for 2007 through 2011 tax years are subject to examination by taxing authorities. We classify interest and penalties related to uncertain tax positions, if any, in our financial statements as a component of general and administrative expense.
Use of Estimates in the Financial Statements
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make certain estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates.
Reclassifications
Certain prior year amounts have been reclassified from continuing operations to discontinued operations to conform to the current year presentation (see note 3 to the consolidated financial statements).
Other Comprehensive Income (Loss)
We had accumulated other comprehensive loss of $1.5 million as of December 31, 2010, to account for the changes in valuation of interest rate swaps. The last of our interest rate swaps expired in November 2011. Accordingly, we recorded other comprehensive income of $1.5 million in 2011, leaving no accumulated other comprehensive income or loss as of December 31, 2011.