Corporations scoop up rental homes

Published: Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM.

Apartment living brought Bill and Jennifer Schumacher together, with the two neighbors meeting while living at the same apartment complex in the Philadelphia area.

When Jennifer received a job offer in the Rochester , N.Y. , area, the couple was fine with moving, but they didn’t have much time, and they knew they didn’t want to live in another apartment.

“We said, ‘There’s no way we’re going into another apartment’ — we need bigger space; we wanted some ground outside,” Jennifer said while in the living room of the 1,900-square-foot Pittsford, N.Y., house they now rent. “This is a perfect opportunity.”

Real estate company Broadstone Real Estate, based in Rochester, traditionally has focused on commercial properties, ranging from medical offices to retail space but is increasingly diving into the single-family home market, including through the Broadtree Homes line.

Earlier this month, it announced under its Broadtree Homes shingle that it had purchased 127 single-family homes in the Atlanta area for roughly $10 million. That purchase more than doubled the portfolio of single-family homes it began amassing in late 2012 around Minneapolis , Palm Beach County , Fla. , and the Rochester area.

Big money has in the past been relatively rare in the rental house market. According to an analysis earlier this year on the single-family rental market by New York investment banking firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, about half of the nation’s 14 million rental homes are owned by individuals who own just one rental property. Only about 2 million are owned by investors with 10 or more properties.

Renting single-family homes “has always been a mom-and-pop business,” said Broadstone CEO Amy Tait.

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