Real estate's September report card

Perspective: Investors back in full force

Investor buyers are back and help explain some of the resurgence in sales we have seen in many markets. Investor sales now constitute nearly 26 percent of total sales in the 53 markets where we track this statistic, which is higher than the peak of 24 percent in 2005-2006 and a considerable rise from just 21 percent in Q3 2008. Our data source misses a certain category of investor activity, so the actual percentage is higher than shown throughout the entire period, but we believe the recent trends are valid.

Our conversations with investors reveal that many are looking to rent the properties they buy, as opposed to flipping them as was common in the up-cycle, although there are flippers this time around as well. With the cost of homeownership falling to or even below rental parity in many markets, investors are increasingly able to make these investments cash flow positive by making a large downpayment.