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IPFS News Link • Housing

The Wall Street Takeover: How Corporate Landlords Are Reshaping America's Housing Market

•, By Study Finds

These Wall Street-backed entities have been quietly amassing vast portfolios of single-family homes, particularly in economically distressed neighborhoods. Now, a team of researchers led by Carol Camp Yeakey, the Marshall S. Snow Professor of Arts & Sciences at Washington University is launching a two-year national study to examine the implications of this trend, especially for marginalized communities of color.

The study builds upon Camp Yeakey's recent paper, "Corporate investors and the housing affordability crisis: Having Wall Street as your landlord," published in January in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology. The paper details how the foreclosure crisis of the late 2000s created a perfect storm for corporate investors to snap up thousands of homes at bargain prices. "Our research details how corporate investors 'buy low and rent high' to populations who can least afford it," Camp Yeakey says in a university release. "As wages have stagnated and the cost of housing has risen, an increasing number of Americans are now being priced out of the housing market entirely."

To grasp the scale of this phenomenon, consider this: As recently as 2011, no single corporate entity owned more than 1,000 single-family rental (SFR) units nationwide. Fast forward to 2021, and the five largest SFR operators collectively owned approximately 300,000 homes, out of 350,000 overall acquired by corporate landlords across the country. This rapid consolidation has been particularly pronounced in the Midwest and Sunbelt regions, where Camp Yeakey's preliminary research shows corporate investor-owned SFRs predominate.

But it's not just the speed and scale of acquisition that's concerning – it's also the tactics employed by these corporate landlords. Camp Yeakey's research found that they often maximize profits at the expense of tenant safety and well-being, including massive rent increases, eviction filings, dangerous lack of maintenance, steep fines, and more. Some have even likened this targeting of low-income, Latino, and Black homeowners to a form of modern-day redlining.