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AvalonBay Profits From Nation of Renters: CEO

Wednesday, 8 Jun 2011 | 11:13 AM ET

Every 1 percent change in the home-ownership rate means a million additional renters, AvalonBay Chief Executive Bryce Blair told CNBC Wednesday.

Couple looking at properties in window of real estate agency.
Eric Audras | Photoalto | Getty Images
Couple looking at properties in window of real estate agency.

The move from a nation of home owners to renters is "a long-term change. It was a long time in watching home ownership run up to almost 70 percent and we’re obviously watching it decline. So the weak for-sale rate obviously helps the rental market," Blair said.

Those fueling the apartment boom are younger workers who want to rent rather than buy a single-family home, he added.

Blair said that change benefits his company, a real estate investment trust specializing in apartments.

AvalonBay will start almost a billion dollars of development this year, Blair explained. The company has "cash on our balance sheet and nothing on our line of credit and enjoy leverage below 30 percent. So we’re very well positioned not only to have the opportunities but to be able to finance them in a fiscally prudent way."

REITS, in general, have outperformed the broader Standard & Poor's 500 since 2009.

"As we look forward, asset values are still below their peak, capital is attractively priced and available and we do have an improving economy. Those are important ingredients to fuel growth in the REIT sector," he concluded.

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