Jun 2, 2022 - News

Metro Atlanta becomes hotbed for real estate investors

Illustration of a shadowy hand looming over three row houses.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Companies that buy and rent large numbers of homes — and sometimes tack on fees and charge-backs that can drain tenants’ finances — are gobbling up large chunks of metro Atlanta’s already tight real-estate market.

Why it matters: Home ownership is part and parcel of the American dream and a key driver of wealth.

State of play: Large-scale institutional investors can move swiftly to purchase homes, often putting down cash offers to edge out traditional buyers. They then rent out those houses.

  • In some cases, construction firms build single-family developments and sell them to institutional investors or private equity groups to offer as rentals.

Four companies — Invitation Homes, American Homes 4 Rent, Tricon Residential and Front Yard Residential — own more than 27,000 single-family homes in metro Atlanta, Desiree Fields, an assistant professor at the University of California-Berkeley, said.

The big picture: Institutional investors that own more than 50 homes dampened local homeownership rates in metro Atlanta, says Brian An, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech, with Black would-be homebuyers particularly pushed out.

On the ground: In College Park, 65% of residents are renters, College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom told the forum, and a recent development project in her city that was planned as “build to sell” changed to “build to rent.”

  • Cobb County Chair Lisa Cupid said the topic of affordability is a lightning rod among her colleagues and the community, and that investor activity creates disparities along with race and income.

What’s next: Earlier this year, Georgia House reps created a committee to study regulations and affordable housing before the next legislative session.

  • Speakers at the forum said they expect institutional investor ownership of homes to be on the agenda.

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