Bill McBride at calculatedriskblog.com (a must read in the economics blogosphere) has been doing some fantastic posts on the abrupt pull-back by investors in the U.S. housing market. They were very aggressively buying homes in depressed markets from 2010 to 2012 thanks to their relative wealth and ability to achieve good credit, but the excitement is now cooling. This is closely related to a previous post where we showed that house price growth has been stronger in cities where investors were extremely active.
We argued in our previous post that the 2010-2013 housing rebound was “strange” because it was driven mostly by investors buying up foreclosed properties that were sold at prices below fundamental value (a “fire sale”, in the language of Shleifer and Vishny).
What happens now that these investors no longer see bargains? Who steps in to buy? Is the 2010-2013 pace of house price growth sustainable? Difficult questions. We plan on looking deeper at this issue as more data become available.