Posted on Calculated Risk:
The evidence suggests there has been a surge in rental units in the U.S. - far exceeding the number of new rental units being built (see: The Residential Rental Market Update). I've argued that the key factors in this surge in supply are "REO sales to cash flow investors, and frustrated sellers putting their homes up for lease".
Here is some evidence of investors buying REOs to rent.
From Jim Wasserman at the Sacramento Bee: Novice investors turn repos into rentals
... Preliminary estimates from researcher MDA DataQuick indicate that 28.4 percent of February buyers in Sacramento County were investors aiming to buy, repair and rent out their new acquisitions.In 2004 the "investors" (really speculators) were betting on appreciation. The current breed of investor is buying for cash flow.
The numbers confirm a huge shift in the Sacramento housing market in recent months, one that has consumed thousands of foreclosure properties and helped prevent a once-feared pileup of for-sale signs.
Alongside an army of first-time buyers, these investors – many doing cash deals with banks – have fueled growth in home sales for nearly a year. ...
Investor market share in Sacramento County last hit 25 percent in mid-2004, the most frenzied sales year of the region's housing boom. Then it declined by half as the housing market cooled in 2006 and 2007, according to DataQuick.
Sacramento County couple Oscar Vargas and Gladys Flores ... bought five houses last year priced between $50,000 and $100,000.
"We buy the repos, and the prices are about what it was 15 years ago," Flores said. "We fix what's wrong with them. We spend a little money and put in new carpets and remodel. We do it ourselves and rent them."
The plan is to hold them for several years to see gains, she said. Flores said it's the same drill as the 1990s downturn. Then, the pair bought houses low and sold them high during the boom that followed. They now own and manage 15 rental homes, she said.