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How do corporate landlords affect the housing market?

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Residents of Berlin voted earlier this week in favor of a referendum to seize rental properties from the biggest corporate landlords in the city and turn them into public housing. The measure is nonbinding, and while the United States may not follow Berlin’s lead, concern has been growing about the influence of big corporate landlords in the U.S. housing market.

Most rental units in the U.S. are under some sort of corporate ownership. That spans from individuals with a limited liability company on up to giant real estate magnates with hundreds or thousands of units, said Jenny Schuetz with the Brookings Institution.

What worries most people, she said, is the increase of private equity money in the housing market from Wall Street firms like BlackRock.

“They’re more likely either to buy something that’s going to have quick appreciation and sell it or something that’s going to have higher than usual…

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