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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Accidental Landlords and the Shadow Inventory

by Calculated Risk on 3/06/2010 10:32:00 AM

From Hilary Stout at the NY Times: The Renter Roadblock (ht Brian)

Over the past year or two, many owners who couldn’t sell — or didn’t dare try — made a ... calculation [to rent]. Rather than accept an impossibly low offer (if they even had an offer), they decided to rent out their properties. The idea was to cover expenses while waiting for the market to right itself.

But in recent months, a number of these accidental landlords have been surprised to find renewed buyer interest in their properties. The problem is, the renters are happily in place.
These accidental landlords are part of the "shadow inventory".

My definition of "shadow inventory" are units that aren't currently listed on the market, but will probably be listed soon. This includes REOs (bank Real Estate Owned) that are not currently listed, foreclosures in process and seriously delinquent loans (although some of these may be cured, and some may already be listed as short sales), unlisted new high rise condos (these properties are not included in the new home inventory report) and homeowners waiting for a better market.

That last category includes all the accidental landlords that we've been discussing for years. As the NY Times article suggests, some of these accidental landlords might test the market this year. And there are probably quite a few of them - in a recent interview with Jon Lansner of the O.C. Register, Scott Monroe of South Coast Apartment Association said
"... our members are saying that they are competing quite a bit with what historically has not been a competitor for us - that's the gray market or the shadow market - which are condominium rentals and single family home rentals and things of that nature. There is just a lot of product on the market."
My estimate is about 3.6 million units were converted from owner occupied (or 2nd home) to rental over the last 5 years.

This included investors buying REOs for cash flow, condo "reconversions", builders changing the intent of new construction (started as condos but became rentals), and homeowners renting their previous homes instead of selling. But whatever the reason, many of these properties will probably be offered for sale again - especially the properties owned by the accidental landlords.