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Wall Street Unlocks Profits From Distress With Rental Revolution


Blackstone is at the vanguard of a historic move to centralize the business of renting single-family houses in the U.S. after the real-estate crash, which left in its wake more than 7 million foreclosed homes and families lacking the credit to buy again.

Wall Street Unlocks Profits From Distress With Rental Revolution

by Heather Perlberg and John Gittelsohn
Dec 19, 2013

On a rainy night in November, Mark Futral, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, approached a white ranch house in Flowery Branch, a northeastern suburb of Atlanta, crowbar in hand.

He adjusted a headlamp and slid his fingers under a front window to lift it open. His dog Bella, a 40-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, barreled through and Futral followed, squeezing into an empty room with tan carpet peeling from the floor. It was the sixth home he’d broken into that day.

Though he’s occasionally mistaken for a thief, Futral, 37, is working for Blackstone Group LP (BX), one of the world’s most sophisticated investors. For the past 18 months, he’s picked locks, shimmied under garage doors and crawled through windows to get into foreclosed homes the company has bought.

The locksmith is a cog in a machine assembled by Blackstone to build a rental-home empire across the U.S. In less than two years, the New York-based firm has bought 41,000 properties, most out of foreclosure, in 14 metro areas to become the largest landlord of single-family residences in the country. It’s hired more than 10,000 plumbers, leasing agents and lawyers to transform a mom-and-pop business into one of Wall Street’s hottest investments.

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