In 2017, 37,000 homes were built as rentals, according to the National Association of Home Builders. That grew to 43,000 last year, or just under 5% of total single-family housing starts. But that is just homes built and held by builders for rent and doesn't include those sold directly to investors, so the numbers are likely larger and growing more quickly.

Foreclosures, however, are now few and far between. Distressed properties — foreclosures and short sales ) — make up just 2% of home sales today, down from a high of 49% in March 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors. The regular existing home market is very pricey, so investors are now turning to a new strategy: Buy new. And suddenly, the so-called build-to-rent market is exploding.
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