The "Institutional Investor" Housing Bubble Just Burst

Tyler Durden's picture

It is by now well understood that the US housing market over the past year has not benefited from broad consumer participation, exhibited best by the unprecedented, 13 year low collapse in mortgage applications. And since bond yields which recently "soared" to 3.00% only to drop right back have not resulted in a spike in applicants for home mortgages, it is clear that the problem is far more broad and systemic and has to do more with affordability than any other aspect of the market. And yet one thing that did support the elevated, or as some call them, bubble prices, of US houses, was the bid from institutional investors: those "house flippers" who buy a home with the intent of either renting it out or selling it to a greater fool.

Alas, just like the rental bubble whose bursting we chronicled here just last week, so the institutional bubble has just popped, which we know courtesy of RealtyTrac data reporting that institutional investors — defined as entities purchasing at least 10 properties in a calendar year — accounted for 5.2 percent of all U.S. residential property sales in January, down from 7.9 percent in December and down from 8.2 percent in January 2013. This was the biggest one month plunge in history. It gets worse: the January share of institutional investor purchases represented the lowest monthly level since March 2012 — a 22-month low.


Some other RealtyTrac findings:

Metro areas with big drops in institutional investor share from a year ago included Cape Coral-Fort Myers Fla. (down 70 percent), Memphis, Tenn., (down 64 percent), Tucson, Ariz., (down 59 percent), Tampa, Fla., (down 48 percent), and Jacksonville, Fla., (down 21 percent).

Yet, unwilling to give up on this latest bubble craze, institutional investors are still hoping there is some last minute cash to be made in some remaining markets.

Counter to the national trend, 23 of the 101 metros analyzed in the report posted year-over-year gains in institutional investor share, including Atlanta (up 9 percent), Austin, Texas, (up 162 percent), Denver (up 21 percent), Cincinnati (up 83 percent), Dallas (up 30 percent), and Raleigh, N.C. (up 15 percent).

The rotation from one set of markets to another is shown on the chart below:


The following quote summarizes the situation best, and it also refutes the entire "harsh weather" excuse that has become so popular in recent months:

“Many have anticipated that the large institutional investors backed by private equity would start winding down their purchases of homes to rent, and the January sales numbers provide early evidence this is happening,” said Daren Blomquist. “It’s unlikely that this pullback in purchasing is weather-related given that there were increases in the institutional investor share of purchases in colder-weather markets such as Denver and Cincinnati, even while many warmer-weather markets in Florida and Arizona saw substantial decreases in the share of institutional investors from a year ago.”

So with retail buyers long out, and cash buyers and institutional investors - which as readers know amount to about 60% of all purchases - on their way out, just what will be the next myth be that will be disseminated to percent the general public from realizing that the artificial housing market "recovery", which was entirely driven by hot money, speculation, and hope of a quick profit? Because with QE also fading, and with it the MBS bid, not to mention the surge in foreclosure exits and the flood of foreclosed properties about to hit the market as we wrote yesterday, things for the US housing market are about to get very messy.

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NotApplicable's picture

Silly Tyler!

Smaller Institutional Investor Percentage = Larger Individual Home Buyer Percentage.

Bullish Indeed!!!!!


FinalCollapse's picture

It's time to apply the seasonal adjustment, Bitchez!

StacksOnStacks's picture

I have a friend that is an Art graduate that used to live in Section 8.  He is ghetto but white and doesn't really have anything which was fine for him.  Recently his big step was getting an iPhone...  He sent out a message on Facebook today that he is now working for a "wholesale real estate investment firm".  WTF???

maskone909's picture

so he works at ACORN?  get some new friends

max2205's picture

SPY next stop 1900... Wow

NoDebt's picture

I just accepted an offer on my Mom's old house this evening.  $40 grand under already-reasonable ask, but after 8 months of nothing, nothing, nothing... It's finally done.  I just tanked all the neighbors' real estate appraisals (the PAPER value of their homes), but I don't care.  No way I'm spending another 6 months trying to get an extra $10K for the place just to end up in the same spot anyway as the overall market goes pear-shaped again.

Out of the HUNDREDS of units in the complex, a handfull of which are for sale at any given time, NONE have changed hands since last July.  ZERO.  This will be the first sale since last July.

100% of the potential buyers throughout this 8 month ordeal were "investors".  Not a single person expressed an interest in the place who planned to live there themselves.  However, none were "big" institutional investors, like those in the article.  Just dink-and-dunk little "sheep" investors, who I think follow the herd.

If the investor-buyers are pulling back, you can be assured this WILL affect the price of homes.  Maybe not big mansions which are viewed as another "investment asset class" for the well-off, but definitely at the "regular guy" house level.

ChargingHandle's picture

That would be true if individual apps were not down to 1995 levels.  I fund 100M in residential Loans per year and this article is spot on. Individuals cannot afford the home now that the value is artificially high, rates are higher... meanwhile salaries are flat. 

Rainman's picture

Exactly...household incomes must go up fast or the NINJA-type loans must return with a vengence. Pretty simple scenario.


grid-b-gone's picture

RE investment funds must have discovered you can't raise rents when wages are stagnant.

I wonder if the origanal rental revenue increase projections match today's reality.  

aVileRat's picture

Excuse me sir, you seem to have misplaced my Grey Poupon.

No seriously: Everyone from Zell to Fink have said the home trade of rebuindling default homes to make retail home REITS is done. Show's over, go home. REITS are going to get monkey hammered by both rates rising, purchasing power falling and staggering retail/entry-level job adds for the all important summer student & seasonal job hires.

Not a trade, just an observation. Tyler_1 is correct in pointing this out.

Bunga Bunga's picture

Yeah, all the deep-in-debt college grads creeping out from the parents' basements.

Jadr's picture

Here's an amalgation post of two posts I made on one of the contributor's blogs nearly identical posts.

On why there is less institutional investor activity: In many markets there are vast cost differences in renting or owning a house (i.e it is cheaper to own then to rent).  While these periods don't last forever, i.e the real reason institutional investment is slowing down is not because they don't want to own RE but rather that there has been huge cap rate compression over the past year.  Most companies won't accept properties with net yields below 4%, which is in my opinion even cutting much too low.  Last year in Atlanta you could buy relatively new properties with net cap rates in the 8% to 10% range in the not so great but ok areas and 5-6% for properties in nice areas.  The price appreciation experienced in these markets have made it so that it is much harder to find quality product that generates good yield.  Plus, most market players knew that last year was going to be the last really large gain.  Prices will probably appreciate a bit in most markets this year but by next year it will likely taper off significantly.

Without the expected upside in addition to the rental yields, the returns on properties are not that attractive for the big guys.


On the insane Blackstone Securitization:

The part that I find absolutely shocking about the Blackstone Securitization is how retardedly low of an interest rate they managed to get investors to accept for the paper.  I recall reading that the highest rated tranche was 1.8% and the lowest rated tranche was like 3.8%.  Seeing as though for mid level/starter homes which most investment groups have flocked to (other than the super large players which can get funding so cheaply that cap rates are almost meaningless) have net yields of 5% to 10% (obviously very market and sub market dependent) Blackstone is getting ridiculously low funding costs without putting their true collaterall at risk and making a spread as well.  The underlying homes are probably leveraged at ridiculously low rates which companies like Blackstone can get which in essence this securitization is allowing them leverage these properties twice at low interest rates.


Blackstone got in very early so they acquired many properties with very strong cap rates (although from what I have seen they have also massively over paid for some homes, but knew that it didn't matter because their funding costs and other factors of scale made overpaying less important than deploying the capital).  Say in the Atlanta area in B and C type areas they are getting Net returns of 7% to 10%, I don't have knowledge of their cost of capital but I would assume it's something stupid low, like probably sub 2-3% which they leverage the homes up to at least 60% and potentially up to 80% ltv.  They then get this second round of funding backed only by the cashflows from the properties at super low rates of 1.8% to 3.8%.  They obviously use the leverage to acquire more properties providing more cash flow.  And they repeat the game and increase cashflows further. 


Here's an example laid out of how ridiculously profitable this can be for Blackstone.  So they start with a house lets pretend its $100,000 with a net annual return of 10%.  They get $60,000 at lets say 3% which is a high interest rate low LTV example.  They then do this securitization and say they get 40% of the homes value paying 3.8% (I didn't do the math on what the value of the underlying homes was vs the capital raised so this number could be off).  They have acquired a home for $100,000 providing them $10,000 in profit per year which they must pay 6800 of for debt service (assuming absolute maximum interest rates they could be paying) and have another $100,000 to invest.  Let's say that because of the time involved in the leveraging etc, cap rates have compressed, their $100,000 used to buy a new house only returns $9000 in net profit.  Well they used $100,000 in capital and now have $200,000 worth of collateral and have a net income of $12,200 off the original.  Assuming RE prices stay flat or increase they do amazing, and the cap rate itself can be great given the currently repressed interest rate levels.  The thing is though, they repeat the leveraging process with each new home acquired so they are getting more and more assets and gaining more of a spread on their debt service expenses and cash flow from the properties.


My company wishes it could get  financing using our properties as collateral that blackstone is getting merely securitizing their income.  Its crazy.

TruthInSunshine's picture

I better unload while I can.

Tom Vu and his babes will not be happy to hear this.
jbvtme's picture

Tom Vu...I can't believe how much I learn on the Hedge

TeamDepends's picture

"Tom Vu wife no care Tom Vu surrounded by grade-A jugs all day, 'cause she gold digger too."

TruthInSunshine's picture

Now I ain't sayin' she's a gold digger

But she ain't messin' with no broke Asian pimp flipper

roadhazard's picture

Is that the same guy that sez, "Can you feel yourself getting rich already !"

_SILENCER's picture

Tom Vu.

God I haven't heard this guy's name in aeons.

"If you don't come to my deserve to be broke! Here's the location!"


Then there's Don LaPre, who eneded up dead in jail after everything for him went utterly shithouse when the bubble burst on placing "tiny classified ads".

InflammatoryResponse's picture

He clearly used the same production crew that McCorkle<sp> did.


he was a former male stripper who created some "plan" he spent time on boats with bikini babes too.


now he's somebody's bitch in prison for fraud.


camaro68ss's picture

And stocks railly on.

fuck this bullshit.

I want to see more bankers testing newtons theory

TruthInSunshine's picture

It's the Yellen initiation bounce. I expected a larger one as this was the one day this week I was truly fearing.

Based on her lack of true market skyrocketing JawBone skills, color me unimpressed. She even had a massive assist from Chuck "Get To Work Undoing The Taper" Schumer and couldn't really convert.

No sweat. It's out of breath & breadth.


THIS DOES worry me, though - JIVE SOFTWARE & TWATTER working on SECRET PLANS! (/sarc):

02-27 15:42: Market talk Jive Software (JIVE) and Twitter (TWTR) could be secretly...

News Headline Summary Market talk Jive Software (JIVE) and Twitter (TWTR) could be secretly developing integrated business solution - Unconfirmed
Bunga Bunga's picture

Total fails in physics become bankers - that would explain many things.

TeamDepends's picture

Soon many investors will need to be institutionalized.  What's that?  All the psych wards were shuttered during the sequester?  Uh-oh...

GOSPLAN HERO's picture

Off topic - I believe the "Saddle Ridge Hoard" was hidden to avoid FDR's gold coin theft (executive order).

Nice gold coins ... nice boating accident!


NotApplicable's picture

Interesting thought, but since there newest coins are from 1894, and they were stacked in near chronological order, I'd say it was merely a private bank for a successful entrepreneur.

Maybe this one?

Mercuryquicksilver's picture

Lesson learned, if you find buried gold coins then STFU about it.

TheRideNeverEnds's picture

They figured out that there is more money in just buying every down-tick of the ES. 

buzzsaw99's picture

an entire generation of people lived their entire adult lives with the notion that houses and stocks always go up in the long run. that idea will die along with their portfolios in the end.

centerline's picture

Most boomers until 2000 lived it for real.  And enough so that many made out like bandits.  The tail end of the boomers got caught with thier pants down.  Gen X and everyone after is living in a different world.

autofixer's picture

Most Boomers lived leveraged to the max and didn't and don't have a pot to piss in.  They sure looked good, for a while.   

centerline's picture

Depends on timing.  I know quite a few early boomers that cashed out before or around 2000.  They really benefitted.  Especially those who really rode the markets hard.

My dad, on the other hand, was leveraged.  Had the economy complied, he would have managed to ride the wave right off into the sunset like a champ.  Instead, he has had to downsize and radically alter his retirement plans.  Missed the optimum timing window by about 10 years.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Yes, that sums it up nicely where I am. Unfortunately for us we did not go on a spending binge or go into debt and are still screwed none the less. No way we could have known what was going to happen and are just trying to survive this at this point.


centerline's picture

I used to really want to kick myself for not following my gut instincts over the last 20 years.  Now that I know more about what has really transpired I have been able to lighten up on myself.  Instead, I can now look outward - pissed off (but not surprised) about what is really going on!

Shad_ow's picture

Boomers here, born in '56.  We worked 60 hour weeks building homes and employed dozens over the years.  We paid off our house, college for the kids, and owe nothing.  We saved for retirement and planned to work until 62 and live on it.  Thanks to the thieves in banking and government the possibility to continue our business was ruined.  Now we supplement retirement with menial jobs, living off it and hope to have enough.  Never took a dime from anyone, especially not government, paid in plenty in taxes and the ponzi.  Didn't count on SS but will need it now. 

All we wanted was to work hard to live out retirement in security.  Screw all the corrupt officials.  May they know the same uncerainty we do.

forwardho's picture

'62 for me and brother I could be wearing your shoes.


grid-b-gone's picture

Re: corrupt officials - Unless hell or karma are real, they almost all got away with it.

centerline's picture

Not trying to be mean.  You did all the right things.  Just asking for perspective.  Those behind you have progressively been screwed more.

56' - yeah, you missed the boat.  But, you had a good run up.  A chance to pay off a house.  To put kids through college.  And be debt free.

I have done all the right things too (by similar definition).  I still have a mortgage with a handful of years to go.  My kids are not yet in college - and the prices have gone nuts of course.  My prospect of any sort of retirement is nil it seems.  AND, I am likely in the 15% or better in the US.  lol.  What does that say?

Sharing your sentiments here about the officials!  

NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  houses and stocks always go up in the long run.

as measured in dollars.

As long as people use dollars and the Fed keeps making more and more of them, housing and stock prices must go up.   

Pareto's picture

yeah.  Otherwise known as diluting available collateral.  The FED can change what things look like..........but.....y'all know the rest.

buzzsaw99's picture

have to disagree. when rates were falling and wages rising this held true. if wages and rates hold flat housing cannot climb for long and if wages, stocks, and bonds all fall then housing will go with it. Look at Japan. Real estate fell for decades even with the yen getting weaker and rates at zero.

Shad_ow's picture

As long as the government and Fed prop up the banks they can leave defaults on the books and prices hold.  Not much being built in most areas, just in certain pockets.

buzzsaw99's picture

this is an interesting discussion. A how far CAN the fedres and fedgub go down the path v. how far WILL they go. I believe that the fedres will eventually buy the entire t-bond market, the bonds that failed that are held by agencies and banks, perhaps even the stock market. will they go all the way and buy the entire housing market and turn the country into serf city usa with homeless, poverty, 99% rentier status and all the rest? In the latter case they actually could fix real estate prices wherever they want and give the best bits to their friends the billionaires. Will they? Twenty years ago I would have said no way in hell, now, i'm not so sure anymore. Thank god for local property taxes or they would have done it long ago.

Shad_ow's picture

I had this discussion just last week with an old friend in Las Vegas who stated the desire to sell eerything and just move around as the mood struck.  I insisted that wouldn't be wise because I believe rents will rise as we work our way through this.  In other words I think what you fear will happen.

Make_Mine_A_Double's picture

But the market's are all green and there's a front page article in the WSJ about how wunderbar the new housing starts and a 'robust' sign of forward demand.

And if I troll around the various finac/agit prop website I could round a dozen stories today about how the housing market is stabilized and growing again.

To think your house - the one your lived in (before the divorce) - was once your primary asset and protection.