Wall Street Landlords Buy Bad Loans for Cheaper Homes

Heather Perlberg and John Gittelsohn | Bloomberg News | Feb 21, 2014 | link
Wall Street-backed landlords are showing a greater appetite for bad mortgages as a source for cheap property as the supply of foreclosed homes declines while housing prices continue to climb.
The companies have dominated U.S. foreclosure auctions in the last two years by buying as many as 200,000 single-family homes. Now American Homes 4 Rent, the second-biggest single-family landlord, Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust and Altisource Residential Corp. (RESI) are leading acquisitions of non-performing loans, or NPLs, to expand their holdings of rental properties. The shift to loans comes after foreclosure starts dropped to the lowest level since 2006 and house prices jumped in Atlanta, Phoenix and other markets where investors have made the most purchases. The development is raising concern among housing advocates that private equity firms and hedge funds will be more likely to take possession of the properties rather than offer loan modifications. Residents may be displaced or transformed into renters of their former houses. Doug Brien, co-chief executive officer of Starwood Waypoint (SWAY), said his firm plans to give delinquent residents a chance to stay put as owners or renters.
Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
“Our intent is to approach some of these folks where it just doesn’t look like they’re going to get caught up on their loans,” Brien said. The firm can “offer them the opportunities to stay in their homes and keep their kids in the same school.” Read more…

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