Investment firm buying Tampa-area homes and renting them out

Tampa is one of 15 to 20 cities across the country

TAMPA, Fla. - A New York City-based investment firm is cashing in on Tampa's housing market. Tampa is one of 15 to 20 cities where the Blackstone Group is buying foreclosed homes.

The company currently buys foreclosed, single-family homes in Tampa. They're usually three bedroom, two bath. Then the group rents them out to tenants.

According to Tampa's Greater Association of Realtors, the areas housing inventory dropped 30% in the last year.

Local realtor Melanie Atkinson says the company's plan makes it harder for potential home buyers to purchase properties.  "If they were coming in and rehabbing homes that needed refurbished or rehabbing neighborhoods in general, I think it would be okay.  If that's not their intention, I do worry about what it will do for regular homeowners trying to find houses."

Justin Meyer and his wife bought a home in Westchase in July.  But Meyer says finding it wasn't easy.  "Our realtor had told us from the start that there was just really not a lot of inventory there. It was going to be a tough time for us to buy that. So she gave us a good expectation right out of the gate that things were going to be hard."

Realtors say that inventory could be lowered even more by the Blackstone Group's plan. Meyer said, "If there's even fewer homes for people in that price point, then that's a real concern."

Blackstone has not said how much money the company will invest in Tampa.  Representatives say they're buying now, because they believe the housing market has bottomed out.

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