Are big Wall Street investors really buying 44% of homes this year? The answer is no — not even close. Housing inventory is near all-time lows, but big institutional investors like Invitation Homes or BlackRock aren’t to blame.
The 44% claim was made in the headline for a Medium article last week and then spread like wildfire all over social media. Congress has even jumped on the bandwagon, with Democratic lawmakers introducing bills looking to limit or ban hedge funds from buying single-family homes.
2023 has seen its share of crazy housing myths (Airbnb crash anyone?), but this might be the dumbest so far because the claim is so easy to disprove. Let’s look at the data — it will tell us everything we need to know.
The first chart below, provided by Freddie Mac, shows where large institutional buyers rank as a percentage of the marketplace. As you can see, even if you add them together with the iBuyers, they are a tiny percentage of the total homebuyers in America. In fact, institutional homebuyers (those who bought 100+ homes in a 12-month period) didn’t even reach 2.5% market share at the peak level in this data line, which goes back to the start of the century.
The overall market share of investors has grown since 2000 and is currently around 30%, as seen in the chart below, but the vast majority are small mom and pop investors.
The chart below from John Burns Real Estate is another great illustration of this point. You can see the percentage of home-buying by big investors — those with 1,000 properties or more — is tiny. Again, the bulk of home buying for many years has been Tier 1 investors, those buying 1-9 properties.
The viral story saying Wall Street has bought 44% of the single-family homes this year is laughable. The 1000-plus block buyers accounted for just 0.4% of market share in Q2.
So, to make a long, convoluted story very simple: there is nothing in the data to show that Wall Street has been the big buyer of homes in the U.S since 2000. If you want to pin the blame on someone, you’re going to have to condemn those avocado-toast-eatings kids, the Millennials, who started buying homes in 2013 and were the largest percentage of homebuyers until mortgage rates rose in 2022. Since then, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have once again come out on top, according to the National Association of Realtors. Either way, it’s not Wall Street, but that isn’t a sexy talking point in the class warfare dialogue.