Investor demand, large and small, put a floor on home prices after the housing crash and ignited a recovery. While institutional investors made up a small percentage of those home buyers, they have garnered the most attention because of the bulk purchases they made and because they are a new entrant to the housing market. The concern now is what will happen if and when they decide to pull out?
Investor demand really started in Phoenix, Las Vegas and the hardest hit parts of California. Blackstone's Invitation Homes, American Homes 4 Rent, Colony Capital and American Residential Properties, to name a few, came in armed with billions of dollars in cash.
They bought thousands of distressed properties, and when the bargains began to dry up, they moved east to Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago. While there are no exact numbers available, institutional investors have purchased well over 100,000 homes, which is still a very small percentage of investor-owned homes in the United States.
Despite that share, economists and housing experts are concerned. In a survey of these experts, Zillow found that 79 percent believe that if investors pulled out of the housing market this year, then there would be a "significant" or "somewhat significant" impact on the markets where that demand had been highest.