Real estate industry watchers tend to view the housing market as an either-or proposition, either a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, but the Great Recession has created a third reality. “There has been a tremendous increase in people renting,” says Chris Herbert, research director for the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. “Part of the surge in rental demand,” he notes, “is caused by finances damaged by the Great Recession and those unable to obtain financing.”
This renting revival is also fueled by investors who have bought foreclosed properties in bulk, often in all-cash deals—30 percent of listed homes in some markets—and converted them to rentals. The trend is driving a property management revival as well, spawning both opportunities and obstacles for property managers who have never before had to contend with single-family homes and their specific maintenance issues en masse. In some cases, it’s proving to be more cost-effective to have policies encouraging tenants to take care of repairs rather than send over plumbers and electricians for every small job. Managers are facing new technology issues, too, since software programs have never been commercially available to track SFH rentals at this level.