Business,  Economic Policy,  Retirement

Investment Firms Aren’t Buying All the Houses. But They Are Buying the Most Important Ones.

You may have read in The Wall Street Journal or elsewhere about the trend of investors buying up single-family homes.

For Slate I did a deep-dive by reviewing the financial records of the largest home buyers and uncovered an important point: investors like Invitation Homes (a spin-off of private equity company Blackstone) don’t buy homes at random. They’re really buying up smaller, more affordable housing in growing cities like my hometown of Charlotte: in other words, the specific homes that could have been wealth-building for the working class.

An interesting point about many of the giant asset managers that are buy these houses is that they’re not just managing the money of the super wealthy: they often also are involved in the pension funds of middle-class Americans, like teachers and firefighters, and offer funds that people buy in their 401(k)s. Abbye Atkinson of Berkeley Law has a great article forthcoming in Duke Law Journal about how our privatized system of retirement creates competing class interests: the same people who are workers also are pressured into making high-yield, and often predatory investments as their only path to a dignified retirement.