How Wall Street bought single-family homes and put them up for rent

How Wall Street bought single-family homes and put them up for rent

Institutional investors may control 40% of U.S. single-family rental homes by 2030, according to MetLife Investment Management. And a group of Washington, D.C., lawmakers say Wall Street needs to back away from the market.

“What we’re saying is don’t have private equity buying up single-family homes,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat representing California’s 17th Congressional District. Khanna is the lead author of the Stop Wall Street Landlords Act of 2022. “What’s outrageous is your tax dollars are helping Wall Street buy up single-family homes,” he said in an interview with CNBC.

The single-family rental industry got its start with government backing in the fallout after the 2008 financial crisis. “It was that rare opportunity that attracted the institutions to build a portfolio out of these foreclosed properties,” said Steven Xiao, an assistant professor of finance and managerial economics at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Since the early 2010s, Tricon Residential, Progress Residential, American Homes 4 Rent and Invitation Homes have each bought thousands of homes. They’ve also added to the housing supply in some cases with built-for-rent communities.

Some of these companies are financed by private equity firms such as Blackstone and investment managers such as Pretium Partners.

“It’s almost a captive market,” said Jordan Ash, director of labor-jobs and housing at the Private Equity Stakeholder Project. “They’ve been very explicit about how people are shut out of the homebuying market and are going to be perpetual renters.”

These calls come after fierce housing inflation hit many Sun Belt states, including Texas, Florida and Georgia, according to the National Association of Realtors

The prices in some Sun Belt markets have outpaced national figures for rent inflation, according to research compiled by Zumper for CNBC. Between January 2020 and January 2023, rents for a two-bed detached home increased about 44% in Tampa, Florida, 43% in Phoenix, and 35% near Atlanta. That’s compared with a 24% increase nationwide.

Industry advocates argue that they do not control enough market share to dictate prices in any market. Large institutions owned roughly 5% of the 14 million single-family rentals nationally in early 2022, according to analysts.

By 2030, the institutions may hold some 7.6 million homes, or more than 40% of all single-family rentals on the market, according to the 2022 forecast by MetLife Investment Management.

In the short term, however, some companies may retreat from the real estate market as correction concerns mount. “You will see some selling by us,” said Jon Gray, Blackstone’s chief operating officer, in a December 2022 interview with CNBC.

Watch the video above to learn about the rise and future of corporate landlords in the United States.