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Jan. 24, 2017, 8:42 a.m. EST

Blackstone wins Fannie's backing for rental homes

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By Ryan Dezember

Fannie Mae has agreed to backstop up to $1 billion in debt from the country's largest owner of single-family rental homes, the first time the government-sponsored entity has agreed to guarantee the debt of an institutional owner of single-family houses.

Blackstone Group LP's Invitation Homes Inc. disclosed its agreement with Fannie on Monday in a filing detailing the company's finances ahead of its planned initial public offering. After the foreclosure crisis, the New York investment firm spent roughly $10 billion buying and fixing up houses to rent through Invitation Homes.

Fannie Mae's involvement is a sign that it believes homeownership will remain out of reach for many Americans and that Wall Street's housing wager will be become a long-term business, not just an opportunistic trade made after the foreclosure crisis.

The support represents a shift from about four years ago, when Fannie's regulator blocked another government-sponsored entity from backing bulk buyers of foreclosed homes. Fannie's support will likely make it cheaper for buyers like Blackstone to add homes in the future.

Write to Ryan Dezember at ryan.dezember@wsj.com

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