Housing Permits Print At Highest Since June 2008 Entirely On Surge In Rental Units

Call it the last hurrah for Private Equity and hedge funds as they scramble to "telegraph" that there is still some interest in rental property conversions. Despite ever louder cries that the REO-to-Rent and the general surge into rental properties is over (see our report on RealtyTrac's latest data due out shortly), as many PE firms seek to cash out and to flip their existing exposure, today's Housing Permits number for October showed just the opposite.  Because while permits for single-family housing units was virtually unchanged month over month, barely rising from 615K to 620K on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, it was the structures with 5 units or more, aka rentals, that exploded by the most in the past two months going back all the way to 2008.

Whether this is merely an attempt to game the system and buy virtually zero-cost permits by the boatload, thus engineering a last-minute momentum push in the rental market, offloading existing properties to the last and dumbest money around, remains to be seen. However, one thing is clear: the rebound in the conventional, single-family housing market is over, and the only variable remains rental. The variable will become a constant once it becomes clear that increasingly fewer Americans can afford all time record high rent payments.