The estate of bankrupt Lehman Brothers has sold its apartment owner Archstone Inc. to Equity Residential (NYSE:EQR), the nation's largest publicly traded landlord, and AvalonBay Communities Inc. (NYSE:AVB) for $6.5 billion in cash and stock.

The deal, which also includes about $9.5 billion in debt, gives Chicago-based Equity 60 percent of the assets, with Arlington, Va.-based AvalonBay getting the rest. It also underscores how robust renter demand has become in the U.S.

“Archstone's assets will fit perfectly into the Equity Residential portfolio, further improve the overall quality of our assets and add scale to our operating platform in our core markets,” David Neithercut, Equity Residential’s CEO, said in a statement.