In 2010 it was viewed as a quick way to make a buck, but Wall Street’s investment in single-family rental housing soon became a distinct asset class and the pandemic has encouraged its expansion. While the inventory of available homes for sale has shrunk to historic lows, institutional investors are not only gobbling up existing homes, they are beginning to buy new homes and build to rent. The newest wrinkle is the entry of major new home builders into the market.
The Great Recession purchases of distressed homes by hedge funds (Blackstone was probably the first) was welcome at the time. They relieved lenders of the burden of many foreclosed properries (as well as bad loans on which they later foreclosed) and were credited with putting a floor under plunging home prices. It was also feared, however, that they would tire of managing scattered site rentals and create another crisis when prices rose and they dumped their investments.