Post-Harvey Homeowners Face an 'Army of Speculators'

In Houston, investors are snapping up damaged homes that will be dependent on flood insurance.
May 14, 2018, 12pm PDT | Katharine Jose
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The Houston Chronicle’s latest long piece about the city’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey is focused on the investors —both individual and those backed by large corporations—who are buying up thousands of homes that were flooded during the storm.

“In the process, they are transforming some Houston neighborhoods into block after block of rentals. They're interrupting county plans to buy out flood-prone properties. And they're leaning on the taxpayer-funded National Flood Insurance Program to protect them from future floods.”

Owners are not required to tell renters that the homes are at risk of flooding, and it’s “unclear,” when the homes are part of larger funds, whether individual investors are told.

The “army of speculators” described in the article have already purchased at least 88 homes that are flood-prone enough that Harris County was looking to buy out the current owners; with a competitive housing market, finding renters will not be a problem.

The potential impact on planning for flood mitigation is significant; the reporters found that investors are already insuring their acquisitions through the flawed National Flood Insurance Program and, in fact, “several have said that such investments wouldn't be possible without the subsidized insurance.”


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Published on Thursday, May 10, 2018 in Houston Chronicle
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