Recent headlines in 2023 have highlighted major global investment firms like BlackRock and others buying up single-family homes across Florida. This has raised concerns among some policymakers and housing advocates about the potential impacts on the affordability and availability of homes, especially for first-time buyers. However, the full picture is more complex. This article will examine the key investors and REITs involved in Florida’s real estate market, questioning the future of Orlando homes for sale, what’s driving the trend, where purchases are happening, how it will impact listings on the MLS, and views on both the potential benefits and risks.
Who are the major institutional investors?
Several large asset management companies have become actively involved in acquiring rental homes, either directly or through affiliated real estate investment trusts (REITs). Key institutional investors include:
Invitation Homes – Owned by Blackstone Group, this REIT has spent over $5 billion on single-family rentals, with a significant Florida presence.
American Homes 4 Rent – One of the largest single-family rental REITs, with over 52,000 properties nationwide who is expanding significantly across Florida.
Progress Residential– Manages over 40,000 rental homes for various investment funds and is an active buyer in Florida markets.
Tricon Residential – Toronto-based firm that owns and operates over 30,000 U.S. single-family rentals with growing Florida holdings.
Pretium Partners – Hedge fund that owns thousands of rentals across the U.S. through funds like Progress Residential and other vehicles.
While exact data is limited, some estimates suggest institutional investors account for 5-10% of Florida’s single-family housing transactions in recent years – a noticeable but not dominant market share.
What’s attracting institutional investment to Florida? Florida possesses many qualities that make it attractive for major real estate investors:
Strong population growth and inward migration, fueling housing demand.
A popular destination for retirees and buyers of vacation/second homes.
Lower property taxes and no state income tax.
A warm climate and coastal amenities are appealing.
Strong job growth and economic prospects going forward.
High rates of single-family detached housing.
With low mortgage rates also helping drive demand for yield, these factors have led investment funds to expand their presence.
Looking at a home in Orlando? Where are investors buying up properties? Institutional investors have been active across many Florida metro areas, but some key markets stand out:
Tampa – One of the hottest rental markets, with key purchases in suburbs like Tarpon Springs.
Jacksonville – Recent upswing in institutional activity with major REITs like Invitation Homes moving in.
Miami – Strong demand and tight supply have led investors to acquire rentals across Miami-Dade.
Orlando – A major destination for new residents and tourists, attracting buyers.
Cape Coral / Fort Myers – Popular with retirees, drawing investors seeking rental returns.
Port St. Lucie – Fast-growing region of central Florida, is seeing its share of institutional investment.
While not yet driving overall sales, increased activity by investment firms has added competition in several mid-to-large-sized Florida cities.
What are the potential benefits? How will this impact Orlando Real Estate? Proponents argue institutional investment can support housing markets in several ways:
Increase rental supply – More owned-and-operated single-family rentals can provide tenants with more options.
Reduce vacancies – Institutional owners have the resources to renovate and maintain properties that may otherwise be neglected.
Provide movable rental stock – Units operated by large investors can offer renters flexible medium-term housing, especially in growing regions.
Contribute tax revenue – These companies typically pay property taxes that help fund local communities.
Support prices during downturns – Institutional buyers helped stabilize home values in the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis.
Critics, however, dispute the scale of these benefits and note potential downsides.
What are the risks and concerns? While recognizing the above factors, critics raise several concerns about growing institutional investment in single-family housing and home prices in general:
Fewer homes available for first-time buyers – Investor purchases can reduce the inventory of entry-level owned homes.
Risk of overpayment – Institutional buyers may pay above-market rates, inflating prices.
Neighborhood homogenization – Concentration of owned rentals can degrade community feel and lower prices.
Limits on future appreciation – Rental REITs may be less likely than owner-occupants to renovate properties over time.
Loss of opportunity for residents to build equity through ownership.
Possible upward pressure on rental rates from oligopolistic ownership.
More research is needed to weigh the potential tradeoffs of increased institutional investment activity.
What are experts and advocates saying? Housing analysts hold a range of views on the rise of large investment funds in the single-family market:
Supportive: Industry groups argue that increased rental supply benefits renters. Analysts cite positives like occupancy rates and renovation spending.
Cautious: Some experts note benefits but want more data on impacts on ownership rates and housing costs. They emphasize the need to boost the overall housing supply through new construction.
Critical: Affordable housing advocates express concern about the effects on availability and affordability, especially for lower-income families hoping to buy their first home. They call for homeowners to be prioritized over investors.
Perspectives often depend on the perceived impact on one’s own interests – renters, buyers, communities, or investors. Speak with an expert?
Can regulators influence institutional investment? State and local authorities have a few potential levers they could employ, if desired, to shape investment activity:
Zoning reform – Allowing greater density and more diverse housing types could improve overall supply and absorb investment demand.
Taxes on vacant properties – Levying added taxes on unoccupied investor-owned homes could deter bulk purchases.
First-time buyer incentives – Subsidies, down payment assistance, and related programs could counterbalance investor advantages.
Limiting non-primary residences – Measures restricting the purchase of second homes could reduce outside investment.
So far, most jurisdictions have yet to directly target institutional buyers. But the policy debate continues.
The growth of large private equity firms and real estate investment trusts (REITs) in Florida’s housing sector raises complex questions. While these institutional investors still represent a fairly small share of the overall market, their increasing activity has generated concerns about potential effects on home availability and ownership rates. However, they also provide valid benefits, like expanding rental stock. There are reasonable arguments on both sides of this issue – more objective analysis and data is required to fully understand the tradeoffs involved.
The state’s continued population growth means demand will likely remain strong across rental and owned properties. But regulators may eventually need to examine policy options if access to affordable housing meaningfully tightens.
If you’re in need of support with purchasing your next home, or simply looking to sell, we are here to help. Simply visit www.oldetownbrokers.com