Investment Money Cornering the Real Estate Market

With so many institutional investors buying homes, it's hard for first-time homebuyers to find space in the housing market.

June 21, 2019, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


First-Time Buyers

rSnapshotPhotos / Shutterstock

Ben Casselman and Conor Daugherty write of "exploding investor interest" in starter homes. All that Wall Street capital flooding into the real estate market could make buying a home for the first time much more difficult than it already is.

Starting with a very specific example in Atlanta, before zooming out the city as a whole, the article connects the Atlanta case study to the rest of the country:

A confluence of factors — rising construction costs, restrictive zoning rules and shifting consumer preferences, among others — has already led to a scarcity of affordably priced housing in many big cities. Investors, fueled by Wall Street capital, are snapping up much of what remains.

According to Casselman and Daugherty, the post-Recession real estate activites of institutional investors was expected to dry up with the bargain prices brought about by the foreclosure crisis.

Except they didn’t stop. Last year, investors bought about one in five starter homes in the United States (defined as priced in the bottom third of the local market), according to CoreLogic. That was even higher than in the early years after the Great Recession and about double the level of two decades ago. In the most frenzied markets, investors bought close to half of the most affordable homes sold last year, and as much as a quarter of all single-family homes.

These investors take many forms, and also choose many courses of actions once they have their hands on residential properties. Some flip the properties, like the old days before the Recession, and other rent them out on Airbnb and the like.

Meanwhile, young people are denied chances to enter the market and existing residents are prices out of their neighborhoods.

What is happening in Atlanta is partly a familiar story of gentrification pushing up prices and driving out longtime residents. But those trends are being spurred by a fast-growing industry that promotes investment in single-family homes: lenders who provide the capital, brokers who handle transactions, wholesalers who buy homes by the dozens and sell them before they even take possession.

Thursday, June 20, 2019 in The New York Times

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