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Property investors scooped up a record-high number of houses this spring, according to a new report that arrives as Congress begins its investigation into the root causes of the nation’s shortage of homes for sale.
Investor purchases made up 9.5 percent of home purchases nationally in April, modestly below a February 2022 peak of 9.7 percent and an increase of 64 percent from 2019 levels, according to a report Wednesday from Realtor.com.
The report found that investors took more inventory off the market than they added to it during the spring, after the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 saw reduced buying activity and a focus on home sales.
Buying activity resumed at full speed in the spring and winter, with investors buying more homes than they sold and approximately three-quarters of investors purchasing homes in all-cash deals.
Investors sold 24 percent more homes than they did in the previous year, the report notes.
Thirty-five percent of all investor purchases were made by large institutional investors, up from 28 percent in 2019 and 22 percent in 2015, according to Realtor.com. The overall share of investor purchases has roughly doubled since 2014, creating a slew of new challenges for homebuyers looking to compete in an already inventory starved market.
“While soaring mortgage rates have forced many Americans to put homebuying plans on pause this spring, 2022’s financial shifts have yet to take the steam out of investor activity,” Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale said in a statement. “In the shorter term, everyday home shoppers should be prepared to face tough competition from a group that has deep pockets, often filled with cash. But sellers may benefit from investors making strong offers, at a time when overall demand is cooling.”
The report found Charlotte, North Carolina, Jacksonville, Florida, and Birmingham, Alabama, to be the top three cities in April for investor activity, with 20 percent of April home purchases in Charlotte done by investors — representing a 10.8 percent yearly increase — 17.8 percent of purchases in Jacksonville, and 18.9 percent of purchases in Birmingham.
The large amount of investor activity stirring across the nation’s most affordable cities has attracted attention in recent years for its role in the inventory crisis currently gripping the housing market, with recent Congressional hearings focusing on the practice.
“These homes would likely have been bought by first time home buyers, low- to middle-income buyers, or both,” Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who chairs the Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said during a hearing in June. “This removes from the housing market homes that might otherwise have been purchased by individual homeowners.”
“This is a long-term problem caused fundamentally by the fact that we’re not building enough homes,” Jenny Schuetz, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, testified in June. “Zoning rules that limit the construction of small, moderately priced homes are politically popular with existing homeowners and local elected officials.”