California investors turning repossessed homes into rentals

Free-falling home prices and thousands of bank repos have pulled investors back into the Sacramento housing market at levels not seen since the headiest days of the housing boom, new statistics show.

Preliminary estimates from researcher MDA DataQuick indicate that 28.4 percent of February buyers in Sacramento County were investors aiming to buy, repair and rent out their new acquisitions.

The numbers confirm a huge shift in the Sacramento housing market in recent months, one that has consumed thousands of foreclosure properties and helped prevent a once-feared pileup of for-sale signs.

Alongside an army of first-time buyers, these investors – many doing cash deals with banks – have fueled growth in home sales for nearly a year. Even as some savvy investors say they're pulling back as prices keep falling, others have moved in to take deals not available in a decade.

"I'm pretty sure in their mind the floor has been set," said Carlos Kozlowski, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent and big player in the region's bank-owned market sector. Fellow repo specialist Ian Maker of ReMax said investor opinion of bottom for the market's low end is, "We're either right before it or right at it."

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