In the depths of the last housing crisis, self-storage billionaire B. Wayne Hughes flew to Las Vegas and Phoenix to lay the groundwork for a new bet. His plan: Buy foreclosed homes, spruce them up and rent them out. He tested his ideas on three houses in each market and then dispatched deputies to buy tens of thousands more across the U.S.
Nine years later the land grab is paying off as an economic downturn, the rising unaffordability of homeownership and a global pandemic push a new generation to suburban home rentals. Home offices, yards and space between neighbors are becoming must haves. Investors who spent the last decade gobbling up these types of houses are emerging as beneficiaries of the Covid-19 era.
Few firms are better situated to benefit from this shift than Mr. Hughes’s American Homes 4 Rent, which has about 53,000 suburban houses in 22 states