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Posted: 5:04 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, 2013

Big investors continue hold on to metro Atlanta properties 

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Between January 2011 and September 2013, investors purchased 37,329 properties in Georgia but sold only about 17 percent, or 6,527, RealtyTrac reported. (JOHNNY CRAWFORD/JCRAWFORD@AJC.COM)

By Christopher Seward

By now it’s no secret that there is a shortage of homes for sale in metro Atlanta, especially foreclosures, many of which have ended up in the hands of a few top investors.

A new report from real estate researchers at RealtyTrac shows major investors continue to hold on to the distressed properties they purchased at rock-bottom prices in the last few years, a buy-and-hold strategy that is contributing to a tight supply of homes.

Between January 2011 and September 2013, investors purchased 37,329 properties in Georgia but sold only about 17 percent, or 6,527, RealtyTrac reported.

Nationally, 22 percent of investor-purchased homes were resold, and resells were even higher among some of Georgia’s Southern neighbors. Twenty-seven percent of homes were resold in Tennessee and 24 percent in Florida.

Barry Bramlett, president and chief executive officer of Atlanta-based Equity Depot, which tracks foreclosures, said the buy-and-hold strategy, along with homeowners who want to sell but can’t because values have not risen high enough to make it worth their while, has left the Atlanta market languishing.

“It looks like a dead market right now,” Bramlett said. “You drive around in many neighborhoods and whereas a few years ago you saw way too many for-sale signs and foreclosures, now there’s nothing. “

Investors like IH2 Property Georgia LP, THR Property Group and FREO Georgia LLC, the top 3 investors in Georgia, are renting houses for the time being to maximize their eventual profit on a sale. In some cases, companies are going public, making money by selling shares in their business.

RealtyTrac said the top 3 investors, who collectively purchased more than 4,000 homes between January 2011 and Sept. 2013, sold only 23 properties during the period, less than 0.6 percent. IH2 Property, which purchased 2,393 homes, sold only 18; THR purchased 1,099 but sold only four properties; and FREO purchased 681 but sold only one.

Metrostudy, which researches local housing trends, recently reported metro Atlanta continues to carry only a four-month supply of available homes for sale. A six- to seven-month supply is considered normal.

The tight market, however, continues to help push home values higher. The value of IH2 Property’s portfolio, for example, rose 24 percent between January 2011 and this past September, while THR’s portfolio value rose 20 percent and FREO’s rose 18 percent.

About Christopher Seward

Christopher Seward is a South Carolina native and Atlanta journalist who has worked at the AJC since 1989.

Connect with Christopher Seward on:Twitter

Send Christopher Seward an email.

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