February 23, 2024

Housing supply is the villain, not ‘corporate investors’

A recent article from the Tampa Bay Times titled “How corporate investors are taking over Tampa Bay’s neighborhoods” ignores the role of housing supply and its impact on homeownership, makes the startling claim that more investment in housing is somehow not a positive, and presents a view of homeownership that is almost completely at odds with the reality of today’s housing market.

David Howard is the CEO of the National Rental Home Council
David Howard is the CEO of the National Rental Home Council [ National Rental Home Council ]

The article repeatedly cites the role of “corporate landlords” and “institutional investors” as a factor negatively impacting homeownership in Tampa Bay, yet provides little factual context to support these claims. First and foremost, the article neglects to point out that homeownership rates in Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County and the state of Florida are all higher today than they were five years ago. And according to Zillow’s ranking of “hottest housing markets” in 2024, Tampa ranks number 10 of all cities in the country, based in part on the expected increase in owner-occupied households.

The article fails to include several other significant points that call the headline into question. For starters, large providers of single-family rental homes own just 0.4% of the housing in America. Of all the rental housing in the U.S., large providers own just 1 percent. In the Tampa Bay metro area, the percentage of the housing market owned by large providers is slightly higher than the national average but, at just under 1.5%, is a far cry from the article’s exaggerated claims about the outsize role of large single-family rental home providers.

Finally, in portraying housing “investors” as some kind of ever-present force in the housing market, the article downplays the widely reported fact that investor purchases have fallen by unprecedented amounts over the past year. A recent article published by the Florida Realtors Association reported investor purchases were down nearly 30% in 2023 in the Sunshine State. And according to data from the National Rental Home Council, the share of the Tampa housing market accounted for by single-family rentals is less today than it has been since 2014.

In Florida, and many other states across the country, the primary challenge facing the housing market is simple: supply. The supply of housing in the U.S. has not kept pace with demand — for years. As a result, America faces a housing deficit of between 4 and 6 million homes.

A recent study of housing supply conditions by the Bipartisan Policy Center reveals the extent of the problem in Florida, where the statewide population has increased by nearly 2.9 million residents over the past decade, while the housing stock has grown by only about 820,000 homes.

The simple fact is, cities across America need more housing of all kinds to support families, whether they choose to buy or rent a home. Every person, no matter their income, background or profession, deserves access to quality neighborhoods, and single-family rental homes provide access to the kinds of housing many Americans need. Housing, put simply, should not be viewed as zero sum. We need more supply, of all types, to help ensure we meet the needs of today — and tomorrow. And single-family rental homes are an important component for working families in any housing market.

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David Howard is the CEO of the National Rental Home Council, the Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing owners, operators and builders of single-family rental homes and single-family rental home communities. For more information visit rentalhomecouncil.org.

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