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Lawmakers want to stop hedge funds from buying up houses

Several lawmakers have introduced legislation intended to make it easier for families to purchase a home.
Lawmakers want to stop hedge funds from buying up houses
Posted at 12:02 PM, Dec 28, 2023

Buying a house right now isn't easy with interest rates at a 20-year high amid soaring property values. While Congress has little say over things like interest rates or property values, some lawmakers are considering taking action that restricts some of the buyer's competition.

You may think the only people interested in buying a single-family house are families. However, that hasn't been the case in recent years. Many hedge funds, and companies with big budgets, have been buying up homes as well. Oftentimes, the hedge fund can pay all cash to the sellers and quickly turn the property into a rental, leaving families out of luck.

According to the Urban Institute, as of June 2022, large hedge funds owned around 574,000 single-family homes nationwide. Twenty-seven percent of single-family homes sold during the first three months of 2023 were purchased by large financial groups.

On Capitol Hill, these statistics have attracted the attention of Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington. A proposed bill would require some companies to sell off their real estate holdings in the coming years and completely ban such purchases in a decade.

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With no Republicans backing the bill, right now it's doubtful that in 2024 the legislation will pass. With the current political divide, it's more likely the bill will not even be voted on. Many conservatives believe that Washington should stay out of saying who can and cannot buy homes.

But this legislation is sparking debate about homeownership, who owns rental properties, and even whether local or state governments could enact restrictions. While some homeowners' associations in the U.S. have taken steps to limit rentals, depending on how many properties an investment group owns, they could control the outcome of any community vote.

The biggest impact of all of this may be Black and Latino families. According to the Federal Reserve, fewer than 50% of Black and Latino households in the U.S. own a home, well below the national average of 66%. 

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