In Supply-Starved Home Market, Can Wall Street Landlords Help?

(Bloomberg) -- Wall Street landlords own thousands of single-family homes in the U.S. Buyers are struggling to find houses they can afford in inventory-starved markets. Can they make a match?

That’s the hope of National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, who sees slowing rent growth as a potential catalyst for large-scale sales that could help ease the supply crunch.

“As new multifamily supply catches up with demand and slows rents, some large investors may begin putting their holdings of affordable single-family homes up for sale, which would be great news, particularly for first-time buyers,” Yun said.

In Supply-Starved Home Market, Can Wall Street Landlords Help?

The Realtors group on Wednesday said contracts to buy previously owned homes fell to their lowest level in more than three years in January, and low inventory was largely to blame. The number of homes listed for sale tumbled 9.5 percent from a year earlier to the fewest for any January on record.

Expecting single-family landlords to help solve the supply crisis requires some optimistic thinking. While a jump in apartment construction has slowed rent growth for multifamily buildings, costs to lease houses are climbing at a faster pace.

Invitation Homes Inc., the country’s largest single-family landlord, with more than 80,000 properties, forecasts same-store revenue growth of 4 percent to 5 percent in 2018. That far outpaces rent-growth projections for apartments, according to note last week from Green Street Advisors LLC.

“Single-family rental top-line growth should continue to fare much better than that of apartments due to steady demand and limited impact from competitive new supply,” the research firm said in the note.

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