HomeUnion says it’s now providing investors with tools to buy and manage single-family homes in 10 cities with the addition of Birmingham, Alabama, to its list of “active” investment markets.

Launched last May in 15 markets, HomeUnion says it can help smaller investors compete with institutional giants by looking beyond their own backyards to buy and manage bargain-priced rental properties from afar. The company acts as a broker in each of its markets, employing salaried real estate agents to find and bid on properties on behalf of clients.

James Thornton

James Thornton

In Birmingham, James Thornton — a former Exit Realty broker-owner who most recently was chief operating officer for Avast Realty — will serve as HomeUnion’s investment location manager, overseeing a network of property managers.

HomeUnion says it chooses markets based on models that factor in home prices, vacancies, historical income trends, employment, local economy and population growth.

The company said Birmingham — the biggest city in Alabama — offers favorable cap rates and a positive economic environment and outlook.

While HomeUnion’s website lists 18 “investment locations,” the company said today that only 10 of those are “active” markets:

  • Austin
  • Birmingham
  • Chicago
  • Cleveland
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Minneapolis
  • Nashville
  • San Antonio

Investment conditions change, a spokesman for the company said. So while there are HomeUnion investors who own properties in inactive markets, the company is no longer facilitating new investments in those locations. Additional markets are currently being studied, the spokesman said.

The eight cities listed on the HomeUnion website as investment locations but not on the list of active markets released by the company today are: Atlanta; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Knoxville, Tennessee; Memphis, Tennessee; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Across all of its markets, HomeUnion says the properties it recommends generally range in value from $65,000 to $225,000, with projected annual returns ranging from 6.5 to 14 percent depending on how much of the purchase is financed.

To help users make decisions about individual properties, HomeUnion recently added neighborhood-specific information, including the affordability of rents based on income, the breakdown between homeowners and renters, age distributions and education levels, school metrics and average commute times.

Email Matt Carter.

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