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After buying up lots of cheap homes to rent, Blackstone eyes an IPO

Published Sep. 4, 2015

The giant investment firm Blackstone Group stormed into Tampa Bay and dozens of other markets during the housing collapse several years ago to buy up what is now close to 50,000 cheap homes in order to rent them and, once real estate prices rebounded, sell them at substantial profits.

The firm even created a company called Invitation Homes to serve as an umbrella corporation to operate as a national landlord for house-rental business.

Now, Blackstone is considering taking Invitation Homes public as early as next year. According to Friday's New York Times, Blackstone says it would like to pursue a 2016 initial public offering — though that could change if markets continue to decline.

This area's inventory of Invitation Homes for rent is vast. To the north, it ranges from a three-bedroom, two-bath Hudson property renting for $1,395 a month to a four-bedroom, four-bath Lutz home at $1,945 and even a four-bedroom, three-bath Lakewood Ranch home renting for $2,695. The offerings stretch as far east as Lake Wales and as far south as Fort Myers.

Blackstone indicated to Bloomberg News last month that it will be patient before committing to an IPO. The shares of several already public major real estate businesses that scooped up underpriced homes to rent — American Homes 4 Rent, American Residential Properties Inc., Silver Bay Realty Trust Corp. and Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust — are trading below the value of the underlying assets.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com.