Published June 23, 2015 16:48
AS MAIN STREET BANKS FINANCE DISPLACEMENT, WILL REGULATORS ACT?
Editors note: Please sign our petition to the OCC and Federal Reserve, urging them to downgrade banks that fund displacement.
San Francisco, CA- June 23, 2015- A new report by the California Reinvestment Coalition finds Wall Street’s latest profit scheme of buying and renting foreclosed homes (REO to Rental) is hurting neighborhoods throughout California. The report, based on a survey of 80 community-based nonprofits, finds long-term tenants are being displaced, first time homebuyers are losing to all-cash offers by investors, and communities are being destabilized.
Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, and author of the report, comments: “The irony in Wall Street profiting from a foreclosure crisis they helped create is not lost on anybody. Even worse, main street banks like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup, who are subject to the Community Reinvestment Act, are enabling these harmful practices by financing these investors or by securitizing their portfolios. The Federal Reserve and the OCC should give these banks lower CRA grades for contributing to the displacement of long-term residents, pushing out first-time homebuyers, increasing pressure and rents on tenants, and decreasing affordable housing opportunities in California.”
Findings from the report
- 80% of respondents felt that institutional investors have a “negative” impact on clients and neighborhoods;
- 77% of respondents said that qualified home buyers were “always” or “often” losing out to cash investors when trying to purchase a home;
- 50% of nonprofit housing developers report being outbid by cash and institutional investors;
- More than 1/3 of respondents reported that investor purchasers and landlords are changing neighborhood demographics as there are fewer long-term residents, and there is less income diversity in communities.
- In a review of securitization deals that include California homes, many of the leases charge rents that are higher than the prevailing market rates for their areas, thus worsening the affordable housing crisis.
Congressman Mark Takano (D-California) comments: “The recently released report by the California Reinvestment Coalition furthers shows the need for hearings on the role large institutional investors play in the rental market. With more than 80 percent of respondents saying the investors have a negative impact on their neighborhoods, and 65 percent of local real estate professionals saying they have hurt their business, it is clear that companies like Blackstone and Colony Capital are changing our communities. Once again, I call on the House Financial Services Committee to hold hearings into this matter so that my colleagues can learn about the REO to Rental market.”
“I am currently fighting over an issue over making some much needed exterior repairs…I rent a home from Invitation Homes after losing a three year battle to refinance my home with Chase…This home is well on its way to becoming an eye sore.. I consider the rents they charge to be excessive given the true state of rehab and maintenance they complete” explains Stella Konisek, an Invitation Homes tenant in Palmdale, California who shared her story with CRC
"The explosion of investor activity has been decidedly bad for us on the Central Coast. Besides elbowing out first-time home buyers, these investors are also snapping up homes that nonprofit developers could have otherwise purchased to increase the amount of affordable housing in California" comments John Fowler, President and CEO at People's Self Help Housing, located in San Luis Obispo.
"Wall Street is at it again. After foreclosing on millions of Americans, they're now buying up foreclosed homes to rent them out, often at above-market prices. Will tenants and communities be left to fend for themselves, or will regulators step in with some common sense reforms?" questions Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates.
Aimee Inglis, Member Services Coordinator at Tenants Together and author of a recent report on tenants renting from Wall Street (The New Single-Family Home Renters of California), says, “The business model of Wall Street landlords is to maximize rents and minimize repairs. Along with CRC, we recommend strong code enforcement and protections against unchecked rent increases. Tenants should not feel required to make their own repairs, and communities should be able to protect residents from rent gouging and displacement.”
“Investors paying all cash have terrorized homebuyers that can't compete with all cash offers. After they flip the property they sell it themselves which puts us Realtors out of business” explains Dolores Golden, CEO at Multicultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change.
Melissa Hennings, a renter in Oakland comments “After years of deferred maintenance, my apartment building was purchased by an LLC and management was taken over by a company associated with the owners. According to their (now defunct) website, the investment strategy is ‘value added and opportunistic’ while the investment criteria is ‘distressed and under-performing multi-family assets.’ Shortly after the building changed hands, the problems began. Numerous construction projects and demolitions took place without permits and in violation of the EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) creating dangerous conditions for me, my fellow tenants, workers, and neighbors. After four Stop Work Orders, two tenant injuries, and a notice from the Fire Inspector, the building was red-tagged on May 4, 2015, forcing us to move because it was inhabitable. The investors claimed that all work being performed was to make things ‘better’, but now the building sits empty while they move on to the next property. It's discouraging to hear that these sorts of activities are being financed by main street banks. Whose watching out for the tenants and communities?"
Recommendations: CRC makes recommendations in 7 areas related to this report, including:
1) Stopping preventable foreclosures through stronger enforcement of existing laws, and FHFA allowing principal reduction loan modifications through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
2) Investigating fair housing/lending issues in REO disposition and in property management;
3) Extending rent control and anti eviction protections for renters in apartments and single family homes;
4) Promoting homeownership by prioritizing REO home sales to first time homebuyers, and ensuring FHA borrowers have a fair shot at competing for home purchases;
5) Lowering CRA grades for banks that enable displacement through financing REO to Rental;
6) Preferring bulk sales of REOs and distressed loans to nonprofit organizations;
7) Taxing REITs and securitizations to increase funding for affordable housing, and increasing transparency of corporations involved in REO to Rental and investor purchases to allow communities to better track investor actions and impacts.
High Resolution photos from the report are available for download and use:
1) Picture of Home with “For Rent, by Wall Street” sign.
2) Picture of Home for sale with “For Sale: Cash Preferred” sign.