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Economy

How Housing Wealth Transferred From Families to Corporations

The Great Housing Reset has led to growing numbers of single-family homes shifting from owner-occupied housing to investment vehicles for large corporations.
Whitney Hurst stands in front of the house that she rents from Invitation Homes in Esparto, California, in 2018. The percentage of single-family homes that are rented rather than owner-occupied has been growing since the recession.
Whitney Hurst stands in front of the house that she rents from Invitation Homes in Esparto, California, in 2018. The percentage of single-family homes that are rented rather than owner-occupied has been growing since the recession.Fred Greaves/Reuters

When most people think of housing, they separate it into two types: single-family suburban homes that people own, and apartments, largely in cities and urban centers, that people rent. Until recently, the popular image was more or less correct. Most single-family houses provided homes for the families that owned them.

But more than 12 million single-family homes are currently being rented in the United States. Those homes, valued at more than $2.3 trillion, make up 35 percent of all rental housing around the country. In the past, the great majority of single-family homes that were rented out were done so by their owners or small real-estate companies. But today, a large and growing share of single-family rental homes are owned and managed by large corporations, real-estate firms, and financial institutions. The percentage of home owners is at its lowest level since the 1960s.