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We’re Not Done Buying Real Estate, Blackstone Says

Tuesday, 9 Jul 2013 | 12:08 PM ET
Blackstone's Real Estate Strategy
Tuesday, 9 Jul 2013 | 10:32 AM ET
Jonathan Gray of the Blackstone Group discusses how his group is profiting from global real estate investments and how to play the housing sector now.

A lack of supply of new homes in the United States, combined with better fundamentals, has created an opportunistic environment for real estate investors, said Jonathan Gray, Blackstone's global head of real estate.

When asked if Blackstone, the largest owner of single-family homes in the U.S., is done buying them, Gray answered, "Not yet.

"In places like California it has gotten more difficult, but as you move East ... Atlanta, Chicago, Northern Florida—we still see good value," he told "Squawk on the Street" on Tuesday.

According to the company, Blackstone Real Estate has $60 billion in total assets under management and $10 billion in capital available for investments. A portion of these assets, valued at over $5 billion, is made up of 31,000 homes in 13 U.S. markets.

(Read More: No Bubble-Like Housing Boom Now: Former Pulte CEO)

Though many are focused on the recent rise in home prices, prices are dramatically below 2006 levels in a number of markets, Gray said. "We think they still represent good value, and the supply-demand picture there looks pretty good. We've only been building at about half the rate of obsolescence and population growth in terms of new starts, and that is supporting the value."

(Read More: Rising Mortgage Rates Won't Kill Housing: Hovnanian)

The firm is in the later stages of the investment cycle, Gray said, adding that the single-family housing market should remain bullish for two to four years.

Blackstone's strategy is to isolate key markets for growth, renovate properties (investing about 10 percent of the purchase price on upgrades) and lease them. The houses have a 94 percent occupancy rate. "We're trying to build a long-term business here," he said.

Blackstone Real Estate also invests in commercial properties, which Gray also expects to benefit from lack of product and a stronger economy.

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"New supply has gone from 200 million square feet back in 2006 to less than 10 million square feet in 2012," Gray told CNBC. "And that's why shopping centers are doing well."

(Read More: Rising Mortgage Rates Swing Housing Sentiment)

"Out there on the ground, yes, rates are moving up—but that's because of better economic performance," he said. "But in our sector in particular, the lack of new supply is making it stronger than the economy at large."

— By CNBC's Paul Toscano. Follow him on Twitter and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street" @ToscanoPaul

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