Investor-owned rentals make strange neighbors

Apr.April 30, 2013 11:00 AM

Greenacres, Palm Beach County

The fabric and feel of neighborhoods is changing as investors buy swaths of distressed single-family homes to rent, the Palm Beach Post reported.

“There are a lot of nice people here, I will say that, but I don’t know them,” Bryan Melzard, 34, a resident of the 100-home Greenacres development, told the Post. “It very much seems to me like an apartment-type of complex now,” he said.

Wall Street hedge funds and other large institutional investors started buying up single-family homes in foreclosure in Palm Beach County about a year ago, according to the Post.

“Already, hundreds of Palm Beach County homes are owned by firms such as the Connecticut-based Starwood Property Trust, the Blackstone Group in New York and Canada’s Tricon Capital. The idea is to buy and rent until prices increase enough to make selling profitable,” the report said.

Homeownership rates have plunged nationwide and even more dramatically in South Florida, where the homeownership rate of 71 percent in 2005 slid to 58.7 percent in December, according to the Post.

Statewide, the homeownership rate of families with children fell from 67 percent in 2000 to 60 percent in 2011, the newspaper said, citing Anne Ray, a manager at the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies at the University of Florida.

“In the early 2000s, there were a lot of homes selling that would be affordable for low income households, and most were purchased by homeowners,” Ray told the Post. “By 2009 and 2010, there is the same level of sales of affordable homes, but more than half are being bought by investors.” [Palm Beach Post]Emily Schmall

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