Betting home prices will rise, Big investment firm buys hundreds of houses in Sacramento area
An investment firm that owns the Waldorf Astoria hotel and the Weather Channel has bought more than 500 houses in Sacramento in the past few months, betting upward of $60 million that home prices will rise.
Blackstone, a New York-based group with billions of dollars in investments and offices from London to Tokyo, has been snapping up low-priced homes across the region, from Elk Grove to Citrus Heights, at a rate of about 40 a week.
It marks the first time a major investment firm has bought in Sacramento on such a scale – a direct result of the thousands of houses left vacant by foreclosures in recent years and offered at fire-sale prices.
"Prior to the current housing cycle, it was essentially unheard of" for major investment funds to buy single-family homes, said Stuart Gabriel, director of the Ziman Center for Real Estate at UCLA. "The exodus from home ownership and the dislocation of homeowners has been unprecedented."
Experts said the bulk purchase of single-family homes by Blackstone and other big investment firms could have a significant effect on Sacramento neighborhoods, pro and con.
The purchases may boost prices in the short term by clearing out distressed properties and create needed rental housing. But they could also alter neighborhoods once populated by owners rather than renters, and make it more difficult for first-time buyers to compete in today's market.
Whether the entry of such large players is positive or negative depends in large part on how well Blackstone treats its tenants and maintains its piece of suburbia.
"The jury is out in this particular respect," Gabriel said. "There's a lot of asset management involved here. It could be more challenging than they expect."
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