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Blackstone Group Inc., has officially pulled out of the single-family rental game. The investment company created subsidiary Invitation Homes Inc. shortly after the great recession, teaming up with real estate investors to purchase foreclosed homes that it could flip and rent to families who could no longer afford a mortgage. It just sold the last of its Invitation Homes Inc. stake, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Multiple large real estate investors, including Blackstone, jumped on the market during the downturn, taking advantage of low home prices and the significant rise in foreclosure homes. According to Business Insider, nearly 10 million homeowners foreclosed on their homes between 2006 and 2014.

“We are proud that our investment provided a high-quality rental housing option, helped stabilize local housing markets, spurred economic growth, and built a $25 billion company, while delivering value to our investors, which include retirement systems for millions of teachers, firefighters and other pensioners,” said Ken Caplan, global co-head of Blackstone Real Estate, in a statement.

Since March, Blackstone has been slowly shedding its Invitation Homes shares, cashing in about $7 billion in total since going public, according to the WSJ—over twice what the company initially invested. Before Blackstone started selling, it controlled over 40 percent of Invitation Homes.

Industry analysts and investors are questioning whether the single-family rental flip model is sustainable long-term, especially considering locations with weak wage growth, said the WSJ.

But technology has certainly made things easier, allowing institutional investors to pinpoint properties using big data. And with the emergence of iBuyers, investors could have more opportunities.

According to Starwood Waypoint’s June statistics, institutional investors now own about 200,000 of 15.3 million rental homes in the U.S., leaving quite a bit of wiggle room to expand. Earlier reporting from RISMedia, however, shows that mom-and-pop investors collectively make up more housing inventory than larger institutional investors.

Sustainability highly depends on several factors—a rebound in homeownership levels could signal change, and investors still have to deal with significant operating costs, especially when it comes to sustaining an expansive portfolio of properties that are in need of constant repairs and maintenance.

But big-name investors of single-family rental homes are optimistic, already making moves and betting on a continuation of rising prices that stifle homeownership rates.

Rival American Homes 4 Rent, its shares up 31 percent, owns an estimated 53,000 homes compared to Invitations 82,000, according to the WSJ. Both companies target a similar tenant profile: renters around the 40-age mark with a child or two, and a household income of around $100,000.

And a Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust and Colony American Homes Inc. merger is imminent, reports the WSJ. If closed as expected in Q1 2020, Colony shareholders would receive 65 million Starwood Waypoint shares.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

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