America's biggest manager of single-family rental homes hopes to become the biggest one-stop shop for landlords big and small.
Eden Prairie-based Renters Warehouse, which manages more than 22,000 homes in more than 40 U.S. metro areas, said it will acquire OwnAmerica Real Estate to create what it is calling the nation's first full-service, online real estate investment company.
The deal is expected to close Jan. 1. Terms were not disclosed.
Renters Warehouse President and CEO Kevin Ortner said the deal will enable the company's customers, which have hired Renters Warehouse to provide day-to-day operations of their rentals, to buy more real estate online.
It'll also help the company serve bigger customers, which it refers to as investors, who want to own single-family houses without the hassles of managing them. The acquisition enables Renters Warehouse to provide detailed investment data, including stock-like analysis of their investment, and local market data that includes unemployment trends and income analysis.
"We've been seeing a lot more interest from institutional money coming in and saying the single-family rental space is exciting, but we want to be hands off," Ortner said.
With the market tools already in place, OwnAmerica enables clients to buy and sell properties to one another in a much more streamlined way.
"One of the issues we face in SFR [single-family residence] space is the liquidity of the asset," Ortner said. "There is some friction involved."
For example, Renters Warehouse enables owners to sell their rental with a tenant in place, and it offers a reduced commission, generally 3 to 4 percent compared with the more standard 6 to 7 percent.
"You can buy knowing some tenant history and that it's leased from day one," he said.
Zachary Robins, an attorney with Messerli Kramer in Minneapolis who specializes in real estate investment, said the deal offers mainstream investors an alternative to real estate investment trusts (REITs).
He said Renters Warehouse and other tech-based, online real estate investment companies, including Patch of Land and RealtyMogul, offer alternative ways to invest, including the ability to pick and choose which properties to invest in, while outsourcing management.
"This allows investors to diversify from public equities and bonds and, in doing so, have more say in the investment decision than one would in a REIT," Robins said.
Renters Warehouse was founded by Brenton Hayden in 2007. Ortner, a former commercial pilot, was hired to open the company's first franchise in Phoenix. He became president in 2013 and CEO in 2015 after Twin Cities-based Northern Pacific Group bought the company, providing capital to grow the company, buy back franchises that had been established early in the company's history and return to a corporate-owned model.
About 97 percent of the properties being managed by Renters Warehouse are single-family houses and condos.
Renters Warehouse isn't alone in this market. HomeRiver Group and Property Frameworks, which is owned by NRT, also provide SFR management.
Invitation Homes and other institutional investors, on the other hand, self-manage much larger pools of single-family houses, most of them bought during the Great Recession.
Ortner said Renters Warehouse aims to manage 50,000 homes by 2021.