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Investors are rushing to buy up more rental homes

By Mike Wheatley | October 22, 2021

As demand for single-family rental homes soars amid a growing preference for bigger, more spacious homes, data published this week shows investors are flocking to the market to buy up more stock.

A report from CoreLogic this week shows that rents across the U.S. rose by an average of 9.3% in August compared to the same month one year ago, compared to a 2.2% increase that year.

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic emerged last year, every single major metropolitan housing market in the U.S. saw positive rent growth. The biggest gain was seen in Miami, where rents increased by 21% on average, followed by Phoenix at 19%. Las Vegas was third, with rents there growing by 15%.

CoreLogic economist Molly Boesel noted how converging economic trends are responsible for this upsurge in single-family rent prices, with rising consumer confidence leading to increased demand for homes from both renters and buyers.

“The ongoing preference toward more living space, and the slim for-sale inventory, is forcing would-be buyers back into renting and putting significant strain on the single-family rental market,” she said.

With rents rising rapidly there’s a lot of prosperity to be had by landlords, and that has caused investors to rush into the market and buy more rental homes. A second report this week, from John Burns Real Estate Consulting, revealed there have been roughly 43 announcements totaling more than $30 billion in capital targeting U.S. rental homes.

John Burns’ senior manager and researcher Danielle Nguyen said it was difficult to put a finger on the true amount invested into rental homes this year, as some of that money is only equity investment and excludes debt. There have also been many more investments in the space that haven’t been made public, she said.

Nguyen said a number of factors have converged to spark investor demand, noting that worldwide bond yields are at historic lows and that investors need bigger yields. Inflation is rising too, she said, and investors traditionally see real estate as a hedge against that. Furthermore, the rapid rent growth is supported by high occupancy rates, which means rents are unlikely to decline any time soon.

She added that “renters have demonstrated they are willing to pay a premium to rent in a new home neighborhood managed by a professional landlord.”

“Many renters are clearly enjoying a better rental experience living with renter neighbors (instead of homeowners) and having no fear that their landlord might decided to sell the home sometime soon,” Nguyen wrote.

That last claim is supported by data that demonstrates strong rent growth in higher-priced homes. CoreLogic’s report revealed that lower price rentals, which are those that cost 75% less than the regional median, saw rent prices jump 7.1% in August from a year ago. But higher priced rentals, which cost 125% or more than the regional median, increased by an average of 10.5% over the same period.

Additional data from the National Association of Realtors recently showed that, even as overall home sales in August fell back slightly, investors made up a larger proportion of buyers that month. In contrast, first-time homebuyers who traditionally account for around 40% of all home sales saw their share fall to jut 29%, the lowest level in more than a decade.

The NAR said this is being driven by weakening affordability as home prices rise, consequently leading to greater demand in the rental market.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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