Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Finance Agency have begun the process of marketing and selling foreclosed homes to investors for use as rental properties.

The initiative's first transaction is meant to serve as a test of the idea, to ensure that selling real estate-owned properties in bulk will have the desired effects. Those in favor of the plan believe it represents an opportunity to provide needed housing at affordable rates, meet rental demand, reduce the unused inventory of foreclosed homes and begin reducing federal involvement in the housing market, among other effects.

Fannie Mae will be selling almost 2,500 foreclosed properties through the program, according to the Wall Street Journal. The properties are spread throughout several states, with California, Florida and Arizona all containing a significant percentage. Investors may bid on the entire portfolio or seek to purchase all the properties in a given area.

While the transactions may take some time, they could have a notable impact on specific markets, making additional rental units available. Depending on the market's other conditions, this could impact vacancy rates, demand, new construction and the prices that rental property management companies and landlords can charge.