Whenever a market comes back, it changes. Most companies act as if it will return to how it functioned in the past. They are then surprised when it changes and are behind the curve trying to catch up.
One such change that is happening is the growth of rental housing ownership as evidenced by the following excerpt from a New York Times article.
“Now that at least one million households are looking to move somewhere better, investors are looking to buy houses on the cheap — not to flip, but to rent. (The Blackstone Group, the private-equity colossus, has spent more than $1 billion this year buying up thousands of single-family homes around the country.) New residential construction starts also came back strong last year, and much of the growth was from multiunit apartment buildings designed, yes, for renting.
Despite the fact that homeownership has been promoted as a universal economic good since the Depression, the trend toward rentals might be a good one. Renters are more able to follow the job market. Renting, as the housing bubble revealed, benefits the overall recovery, because fewer people have their money tied up in one asset.”
Adam Davidson, January 6, 2013, New York Times Magazine
Most residential building product companies have not made an effort to go after rental housing assuming they will grab their fair share through the channel. Now that there are owners, like Blackstone, who own thousands of rental homes it’s time to call directly on these owners.
Commercial building product companies have the realized the benefits of calling on owners and facility managers for years. Not to sell them directly but to gain specifications or preference for their products. The incentive can be a financial rebate or preferably, educating the owner about the benefits of your product.
If an owner has thousands of single-family homes, think of how many roofs, water heaters, toilets and HVAC systems will need to be replaced each year. Smart residential product manufacturers will see rental housing as an important part of the new housing market. They will develop sales and marketing approaches to reach this opportunity.
And the consolidation continues with this merger creating one landlord for 47,000 rental units. One customer responsible for 47,000 HVAC systems, bathrooms, kitchens, doors and windows, seems like a no-brainer to me.