REO to Rental: The Transformation of the American Single-Family Landscape

ABSTRACT: REO TO RENTAL

The prodigious US single-family housing market consists of roughly 80 million existing homes and of those, more than 14 million are currently being rented. This trillion-dollar rental market has traditionally been operated exclusively by mom and pop organizations, until now. Since the housing collapse began five years ago institutional investors began taking note of falling home prices and rising inventories of bank owned properties. Private equity giants like Blackstone and Colony Capital saw a once-in-ageneration opportunity to invest at pennies on the dollar in a sector long regarded but never before accessible to large institutions.

Reminiscent of California in the late 1840’s, there was a massive rush West and South by firms looking to deploy billions of dollars of investment capital through the purchase of thousands of single-family homes. By the middle of 2013 nearly $20 billion had been raised or spent and more than 150,000 homes were in the hands of institutional investors. A new market was born and fast maturing. In the early days skeptics permeated the space while investors looked to further formalize the hundreds of millions already invested.

By the end of 2013 three Real Estate Investment Trusts existed with a market capitalization exceeding $4 billion and the Blackstone Group finalized the formation of the world’s first bond backed by single-family rental streams.

Today analysts and investors disagree on what stage of maturity the single-family rental (SFR) exists. Specifically, there are those who see SFR as a new asset class advancing toward a double or triple digit billion market capitalization. On the other hand there are those who see these investments as nothing more than a short-term trade, destined to fade within the next few years.

This contemporary thesis topic aims to shed light on the buy-to-rent strategy surrounding single-family home investors including tactics being adopted to garner the greatest rewards. Furthermore, the thesis will assess the recent investment methods being made by the burgeoning industry’s largest players including filing for REIT classification and securitizing single-family rental incomes. Finally, the thesis will answer the question of whether this new national investment will endure as a business model and forever change the single-family landscape or simply remain and opportunistic ‘trade’ at a time when so many Americans lost their home.

Full paper here…