Some experts say the company’s plan to create a subbrand of luxury coffee shops aimed at the affluent is a good strategic move, given consumers’ growing interest in better-quality coffee. They also point to a shrinking middle class with less discretionary spending power, which threatens demand for traditional Starbucks coffees.
Jonathan Gray of Blackstone Group LP went on the biggest homebuying spree in history after the U.S. foreclosure crisis, purchasing repossessed properties from the courthouse steps and through online auctions.
Four years, $10 billion and roughly 50,000 homes later, he will find out if his gambit will pay off. Invitation Homes LP, the Dallas-based company Blackstone formed to maintain and rent those homes, has filed confidentially for an initial public offering that could come as soon as January.
Though Blackstone is unlikely to sell much or even any of its stake in an IPO, the stock market debut will test investors’ interest in the idea that the rental-home business can be institutionalized as apartments, shopping centers and office towers were before.
Blackstone and others investors believed that the housing collapse presented a rare opportunity to acquire homes for less than it cost to build them. Millions of foreclosures created a market large enough to justify investing in large systems to manage and maintain sprawling portfolios of rental homes.
Now, these new institutional landlords say the move toward rentals further supports their business model. They point to tight lending standards and a generation of renters who are outgrowing apartments but are too burdened by student debt to buy homes.