There's been some thinning of foreclosure inventories, and a lot of it has been investors swooping in to take advantage of some very low prices in good neighborhoods and areas for rental. Long term hold-to-rent investment has always been a favorite strategy, especially when positive cash flows go along with healthy appreciation. That's been the problem though until lately. With home prices rapidly rising in the 1990 - 2006 time frame, an investor was hard-pressed to find a home in a good area that they could get financed and still have positive cash flow after expenses. Of course, they could pay all cash, but that isn't the best use of their money with leverage in mind.
Well, the rapid appreciation has disappeared, but most everyone believes the markets will begin to improve again by 2011, though we won't see the rapid price increases of the past. What does bring great opportunity for the investor is the very low prices coupled with historically tiny interest rates. And, there is mortgage money available for the investor, even through the FHA and USDA, both with programs for multi-family property loan guarantees. So, buying a property for rental now is definitely an excellent strategy, especially with more renter out there who lost their homes.
There's one more thing smart investors are doing right now in the mortgage game. They're refinancing at extremely low rates and taking cash out to purchase other properties. With rates this low, they can frequently maintain their positive rental cash flow, but take out cash to make a down payment on another property that's available at a real bargain in a foreclosure.