The second article is from Bloomberg and reports that rising home prices are allowing US home owners to re-build equity. The number of homes with negative equity - home value less than current mortgage balance - in the third quarter dropped to 21%, down from 23.8% in the second quarter. This is a big drop in under water homes and the picture should improve if home prices continue to rise. There is a ripple effect across the entire economy when people have home equity. They can now sell their homes or refinance their mortgages. Buried deep in the article was this passage:
The shortage of homes for sale has been worsened by investors buying properties to rent, said Lawler, the real estate consultant. Institutional investors including Blackstone Group LP have depleted inventory as they built portfolios of single-family houses to turn into rentals, he said. Blackstone has spent about $7.5 billion acquiring 40,000 homes in the U.S.This inventory situation is more acute in areas like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and in much of Florida, which were hardest hit by the housing crisis.
While that added to the record pace of price growth, the lower inventory has limited options for private buyers, he said.