Out-of-state investment companies buying up Tampa Bay homes - WFLA News Channel 8

Out-of-state investment companies buying up Tampa Bay homes

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

In the past eight months, Beth Lawter has made offers on 40 homes. But every time she thinks she's found "the one," the seller chooses another buyer - someone willing to pay cash.

"There's a lot more cash out there than i had realized," Lawter said.

Sellers, she said, want to close fast, and the cash is too tempting. They always choose the cash buyer over someone like her, who needs financing.

And she's not the only buyer facing this uphill battle. Tampa bay's foreclosure crisis turned our area into a buyer's market.

But that is over.

Home buyers now outnumber homes for sale. And those looking for a house to live in, like Lawter, are outnumbered by companies, with loads of cash.

Brad Monroe, of Prudential Tropical Realty, says these buyers are purchasing scores of houses at a time. And not just talking fixer-uppers. Anything priced from $150,000 to $300,000 is going fast.

"These are hedge funds that are putting together huge amounts of money and saying, "We're going to buy 600 homes for $200,000 or $175,000 on average," Monroe said.

So who are these cash buyers? 8 On Your Side took a closer look at Bay area sales records and found several investment groups, many based in Delaware, are buying up Tampa Bay Homes.

During a six-day period earlier this month, a company called American Homes for Rent, bought 19 houses in Hillsborough County. T-H-R Florida bought 21, and Tropics Investment Group swooped up five homes.

These companies, and many others, have concentrated on the Bay area for the past six months. In fact, sales records show the majority of buyers on any given day are companies.

Experts say this is good and bad for the market.

"I think overall for our general economy it's good," Monroe said. "I think there are challenges because the people that want to buy something are being pushed a little bit out."

That's frustrating for buyers like Lawter.

"It does make it harder for the person looking for something to live in, and for 10 years from now," she said.

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