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2019-07-08 — cnbc.com

During the foreclosure crisis nearly a decade ago, investors plowed into the housing market, buying millions of distressed homes and turning some of them into lucrative rentals.

They transformed the once mom-and-pop market of single-family rentals into a large-scale, formally managed asset class -- and it is still growing, in fact faster than ever.

Foreclosures, however, are now few and far between. Distressed properties -- foreclosures and short sales ) -- make up just 2% of home sales today, down from a high of 49% in March 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors. The regular existing home market is very pricey, so investors are now turning to a new strategy: Buy new. And suddenly, the so-called build-to-rent market is exploding.

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"We've got clients, multiple, well over a couple billion dollars worth of capital looking to place in this space," said Michael Finch, executive vice president at SVN/SFRhub Advisors, a new Phoenix-based commercial brokerage firm focused on single family rental and build-to-rent investment portfolios. "They are looking to acquire 5-6,000 homes in the next two years."

Demand is growing, according to Finch, because while the huge millennial generation is aging into marriage and parenthood, not all of them want nor can they afford to buy a home.

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