Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Own to Rent

Said a real estate vulture from Texas,
Buying properties out of his Lexus:
"Though it hardly may seem
The American Dream,
It's a help in reducing the excess."

Over at The Wall Street Journal, Dawn Wotapka and her colleagues on the real estate beat had a busy Wednesday, as they dug into the implications of strong increases in both new- and existing-home sales in the USA. New homes are now selling at an annualized rate of 343,000, 9.9% higher than a year ago. It's "another sign that the long-beleaguered housing market is in recovery mode," and suggests that "the industry's improvements are widespread." Existing home sales increased 3.4% in April, to an annual rate of 4.62 million, and the median home price has risen 10.1% in the last year, to $177,000. It almost goes without saying that sales volumes and prices are far lower than in the pre-crisis times.

Meanwhile, the Journal's Real Time Economics blog shows the cloud behind the silver lining: "Investors have accounted for about 20% of existing-home sales over the past few years. Speculators are taking advantage of falling home prices and low borrowing rates, as well as the shift from owning to renting. With demand for rental properties rising, landlord incomes increased 15% in the year ended in the first quarter." If losing your home and renting a new one is The New American Dream (as Dr. Goose put it), then investors have been quick to turn the dream into a reality.

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