Local, State Governments Creating Obstacles for Institutional Investors on the Housing Market

Large Wall Street investors are increasing their footprint in the housing market, like they did after the Great Recession, and some local and state governments are inventing new ways to prevent these institutional investors from cornering the market.

2 minute read

July 14, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

White clapboard house with For Sale sign in front yard

Juice Flair / Home for sale

Sharon O’Malley reports for Route Fifty on the growing policy response to the large number of institutional investors buying up homes on the market.

O’Malley summarizes the current scale of the trend with data from Redfin (more specifics by geographic area are included in the source article):

In the fourth quarter of 2021, institutional investors spent approximately $50 billion to buy more than 80,000 homes—18.4% of all homes purchased in the U.S. and nearly 75% of them single-family homes, according to the real estate company Redfin. More than three-quarters of the purchases were paid in cash.

O’Malley also reports that larger shares of new housing construction financed by large institutional investors are being built to rent—increasing by 16% last year, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders. According to O’Malley, the increasing share of rental properties on the market as a result of these large-scale investments limits the future homebuying options of potential homeowners.

O’Malley cites several examples of local policy responses to the trend of single-family homes converting to rental properties:

  • “Officials in the Atlanta suburb of College Park, where 75% of its approximately 14,000 residents are renters, turned away one developer who requested permits for a build-to-rent subdivision of new single-family homes that would never be offered for sale.”
  • “Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens has said he wants the city, where the median home price rose 14% over the past year to $426,000, to place limits on how much real estate institutional investors may purchase.”
  • The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority earlier this year spent $14.5 million for 195 houses throughout Cincinnati and surrounding Hamilton County to prevent institutional investors from buying the properties, in news shared by Planetizen at the time.

Higher levels of government have also entered the fray. California approved Senate Bill 1079 in 2021 to reduce the advantage of large institutional investors in foreclosure auctions. “[T]he Georgia General Assembly considered a bill earlier this year that would have stopped cities from placing restrictions on build-to-rent subdivisions,” report O’Malley, but the bill failed. Other legislative efforts in Ohio and California are included in the article.

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