Wall Street won big buying up homes during the foreclosure crisis and renting them out. Now, it's headed back to the suburbs in hopes of scoring again.
With the pandemic driving demand for larger living spaces, institutional investors are pouring money into single-family rentals. In addition to buying houses on the open market, they're bankrolling subdivisions — inventing a new kind of suburban living that's easier to afford, but where the financial benefits of homeownership go to Wall Street firms.
Blackstone Group Inc., Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s asset management arm all have made fresh bets on the industry since COVID-19 cases started surging, targeting a type of property big investors ignored until 10 years ago.
The investments come as publicly traded single-family landlords outperformed apartment owners, and social distancing efforts make traditional commercial real estate, including hotels and retail properties, less appealing.
"It's been a combination of the sector coming of age as well as the performance during the pandemic," said Dana Hamilton, head of real estate at Pretium, whose Progress Residential manages roughly 40,000 rental homes. "Single-family rentals have been an island of strength during the storm."