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The Persistent Pulse of Investor Activity in the Real Estate Market


Despite enduring significant market challenges, the investor market share remains notably high. This is an intriguing trend that emerged from the recent realtor.com® investing report.


Market Overview


According to the report, the share of investor purchases maintained an impressive height of 8.5% or more from January through June 2022. It hit an unprecedented 8.9% in February 2022, before experiencing a gradual decline as the economic outlook grew uncertain and mortgage rates began to rise. However, the final quarter of 2022 saw this figure once again ascend, reaching up to 8.2% in December.


A Deeper Look Into Investor Behavior


An intriguing observation from 2022 was the subtle softening of all-cash investor purchases, which accounted for 68.9% of total investor activity. This marked a slight downturn from the previous year, which saw 72.3% of investors purchasing with cash. When examining investor size, a vast majority (about 85%) of large investors (those buying 50 or more homes) opted for cash purchases. In contrast, this method was used by just 67% of small investors (those buying 10 or less homes).


Size Matters: Large vs Small Investors


As the pandemic-induced boom took off, housing demand skyrocketed and rents surged. Consequently, large investors with access to more capital nudged smaller investors aside. These larger entities swelled their share of investment purchases from 16.7% in July 2020 to a substantial 31.8% in June 2022. However, the second half of 2022 marked a shift back towards small investors, who were more likely to use a mortgage. This transition suggests that the influence of large investors waned as the market cooled, allowing smaller investors to regain a competitive footing.


Buying and Selling Trends Among Investors


Investor-buyer activity outpaced investor-sale activity consistently since September 2020. However, this trend peaked in June 2022. Thereafter, the gap between the number of homes bought and sold by investors gradually narrowed. As rent growth began to cool, investors leaned more towards selling than renting homes. This resulted in a considerably smaller gap by the end of 2022, with just about 2,800 more homes bought than sold - a marked decrease from its June 2022 peak of 13,000 homes.


Regional Focus


The report found that investor activity was predominantly concentrated in the Southern metros in 2022, followed by the Midwest. The city leading the surge was Memphis, Tennessee, where almost a quarter of all homes sold were bought by investors. St. Louis, Missouri (21.1%); Indianapolis, Indiana (19.2%); Birmingham, Alabama (17.7%); and Kansas City, Missouri (17.0%) made up the rest of the top five metros in investor activity.


Major Takeaway


In the words of realtor.com® Research Data Analyst Hannah Jones, "With mortgage rates rising and rent growth slowing, many investors, especially larger ones, pulled back last year from the feverish rate in which they bought and sold homes during the early pandemic boom years, enabling smaller investors and buyers to better compete.” Despite the pullback, investor activity was still robust in 2022, particularly in the more affordable markets in the South and Midwest.


This continuous investor interest in the real estate market, despite the mounting challenges, signifies the enduring appeal and stability of property investment. Regardless of market fluctuations, it seems investors - both large and small - continue to consider real estate a valuable asset class, one that can withstand the test of changing economic circumstance

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