When It’s Easy to Be a Landlord, No One Wants to Sell

The offers came in and she agreed to sell it for $240,000, but when the negotiations dragged on she decided to walk away. And why not? Within weeks she had a tenant paying $1,900, more than enough to cover her expenses, and she plans to relist when prices are higher. In the meantime, she’s collecting rent checks.

“I’m not going to take a concession when there’s an even greater return to renting it,” she said.

Decisions like Ms. Allam’s have become so common that Redfin recently began rolling out a new service for owners to list their homes for rent instead of — or in addition to — for sale. Historically, Mr. Kelman said, real estate agents haven’t had much interest in rentals, which fetch much smaller commissions than sales. But so many would-be sellers are choosing to rent out their homes right now that agents worry they will lose their clients if they aren’t able to help them.

“Now they’re clamoring for it,” Mr. Kelman said. “We have some of our most experienced agents saying, ‘I need to do this now.’”

Investors are making similar calculations, on a much larger scale.

Doug Brien was part of the wave of new buyers who in the years after the housing bust built rental empires by scooping up tens of thousands of homes when prices were still depressed. His company, Waypoint Homes, is one of several large investors like Invitation Homes and American Homes 4 Rent that have consolidated the single-family rental business, which until the Great Recession was for the most part limited to investors with a handful of properties.

Mr. Brien, who is a retired N.F.L. kicker, left Waypoint in 2016 and is now the chief executive of Mynd, an investment management company that pitches itself as a way for investors to buy and operate rental properties without having to deal with finding tenants or handling repairs.

“We’re unlocking this asset class for others,” Mr. Brien said.

Carly Lovrien, a self-employed accountant who lives in Melissa, Texas, is one. Ms. Lovrien and her husband have two rental homes they manage through Mynd — investments that she said they would never had bought if they’d had to run the business themselves.

“We loved the idea of investing in real estate,” she said. “But when it came to how to find renters, how to manage renters, advertising and, God forbid, if we had to have any kind of eviction or anything like that — that was out of our realm of expertise.”

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