Institutional owners of single-family housing are active in Kansas City

Dec 27, 2023
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Over the last decade, five firms have amassed nearly 8,000 single-family houses in the Kansas City region and converted these houses to rentals. These firms were rarely active in the housing market prior to the financial crisis in 2008. Their approach to real estate, converting large numbers of single-family homes into rentals, is also new to the region.

What was once a housing market of individual buyers and sellers has seen significant changes over the last decade. Waves of foreclosures generated a new approach to housing as an asset class to be bought, sold and traded like a stock or bond. New digital tools and technology also made acquisition and management of property easier for companies. As a result of these forces, the rise of the institutional investor-owned single-family rental property has skyrocketed in recent years. 

How did this come about?

Nearly six million American households lost their home during the foreclosure and financial crisis in the early 2000s. For many, the crisis was a tragedy, but for some Wall Street firms and equity investors it was an opportunity. In the aftermath of the crisis, as the volume of foreclosures increased and lending standards tightened, in December 2016 the CEO of Blackstone recounted the company’s thinking to the Wall Street Journal, “We said, ‘Oh my goodness, this could be huge. Nobody is going to be able to borrow. They’re going to need housing.’” Blackstone was one of the first and most active firms in buying foreclosed properties and converting them to rentals. The company purchased over 40,000 properties in 2012 alone. 

Institutional investors identified an opportunity during the crisis and the federal government encouraged the transition of single-family homes to rentals with policies that privileged bulk sales of foreclosed properties at significant discounts to private equity firms and large investors (Raymond et al 2018, Seymour and Akers 2019). These decisions continued to reverberate in the housing market, affecting homebuyers facing limited supply and rising prices, and tenants facing higher rents and more frequent eviction. Today, local governments are struggling to manage issues of code enforcement and public health as well as unpaid property taxes and utility bills resulting from institutional investor practices. 

The Kansas City Region

Any change in the Kansas City region’s single-family housing market impacts a significant portion of the region’s renters. Single-family homes make up nearly 38% of the region’s rental units, the second-highest percentage in the nation. Nearly 25% of all single-family homes in the region are offered for rent (Goodman et al 2023).  

Kansas City is the 31st largest metro in the country but ranks 16th for the share of institutional investors in the single-family market and 13th for the share of institutional investors across the rental market.  Recent research by MARC on behalf of the Regional Housing Partnership found five companies each holding more than 500 properties in the region. 

Layer Title
Top Institutional Investors of Single-Family Housing
Company Headquarters Properties Owned in the Region
Amherst Austin, TX 2,419
Cerberus Capital Management New York, NY 2,113
VineBrook Homes Dayton, OH 1,791
HomeVestors Dallas, TX 646
Blackstone New York, NY 630


In the Kansas City region, there is little systematic research of the impact of investor ownership. MARC’s recent examination of investor ownership was the first attempt to quantify and document this trend in the region. It is useful to look at the experience of other regions and research focused on this issue nationwide to better understand what homebuyers, homeowners and tenants may face here. 

In 2022, a U.S. congressional subcommittee held hearings on the impacts of private equity investment in the single-family housing market. Equity investors argued their share of the national housing market was relatively small and that they were meeting housing needs for families. Yet real estate professionals and researchers testified these investment strategies locked out homebuyers, increased housing prices, raised rents for tenants, generated higher rates of evictions, and resulted in lower rates of upkeep and overall housing quality. 

In 2022, investors accounted for 28% of all single-family housing purchases nationally. This was up from 21% in 2021 and 16-17% prior to the pandemic. Current estimates project equity investors will hold 40% to 50% of the single-family rental market by 2030, according to the Private Equity Stakeholder Project. The volume of properties held by large firms, their increasing activities in the single-family home purchases and the growing body of evidence on impacts for communities and residents mean the actions of these high-volume landlords have an outsized impact on affordability and opportunity for tenants and communities.

The Atlanta region was an early site of institution investment in single-family houses. Homeownership in that region dropped 6% since the foreclosure crisis. Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology found that investor purchases accounted for 1.4% of that decline. The percentage share was even greater in Black neighborhoods, where investor purchases accounted for the 4.2% decline in homeownership. The work estimates the loss of equity for Black families in Atlanta at $4 billion over a 10-year period (An 2023).

In Texas, institutional investors are also increasingly active. The former chairman of the Texas Association of REALTORS®, Shad Bogany, testified that investors were targeting minority communities and their cash offers were locking first-time homebuyers out of the market. In 2022, investors accounted for 40% of purchases in Houston and 52% of purchases in Dallas, Bogany told the committee. Research supports Bogany’s testimony, finding that investor purchases often target communities of color even when controlling for other market factors (Raymond et al 2018, Seymour and Akers 2019, Fields and Raymond 2021).

Other research documented the types of rental practices these companies pursue to increase profits. This research drew on the companies’ own filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and their corporate earnings calls with their investors. This research identified five key components of the rental model used by institutional investors. 

  1. Large rent increases of up to 30% or more.
  2. The use of fees that add between $650 and $1,000 per year to a tenant’s lease. 
  3. Limited or inadequate maintenance to keep costs low and profits high. 
  4. Quick eviction filings to maintain cash flow. Equity investors obtain low-cost debt requiring steady repayment to maintain a favorable rating and access to low-cost financing. 
  5. The use of convoluted ownership structures masks ownership and makes it difficult for tenants to identify whom to work with when problems arise.

The single-family rental market transformed in the years after the financial crisis with the emergence of institutional investors. Prior to 2011, no landlord in the U.S. owned more than 1,000 single-family homes. As of June 2022, hedge funds and institutional investors owned over 547,000 single-homes across the country (Kaysen 2023). Research demonstrates this investment model affects home prices, homebuyers, tenants, eviction courts and cities trying to keep up with changing property conditions. Local governments are unable to regulate interstate commerce, but there are local, state and federal approaches that could assist in the maturation of this market, and mediate or eliminate many of the less desirable outcomes for homeowners, homebuyers and tenants. 


At the local level, governments have utilized data to identify consistent or chronic issues with institutional investors. In Cincinnati and Detroit, city governments sued owners utilizing nuisance abatement laws, demanding possession of hundreds of properties unless significant repairs were made or millions of dollars in fines were paid. This approach has resulted in varying success. In Cincinnati, one company agreed to pay over $500,000 in fines and to a series of repairs on an expedited timeline. In Detroit, the city utilized the initial lawsuits to enter negotiations with landlords regarding repairs and maintenance. The full impact of large investors is only understood through combining data that is often kept by separate departments or government branches such as ownership data, code violations, evictions, water and sewer bills and others. It is a complex undertaking but a powerful tool that allows for data-driven decision making and intervention on behalf of residents. 

There are also movements for state-level changes, particularly in Georgia which experienced significant institutional investment in single-family houses since the financial crisis. A series of bills focused on expanding tenants’ rights passed the Georgia House of Representatives last spring but failed in the Senate. Proponents intend to bring the Tenant Protection Act up again. The bill included setting up a statewide landlord registry, a process that would provide tenants the ability to “cure” overdue rent before an eviction is filed, and an explicit requirement for landlords to ensure a home is habitable before renting it out. These proposals are drawn from research on the experience of tenants and the operations of high-volume institutional landlords. They are protections developed in response to current business practices.

At the federal level, a bill was introduced earlier this month that would require private equity firms and investment trust to sell-off their single-family holdings over the next decade and would prevent these firms from bulk buying in the single-family housing market moving forward (Kaysen 2023). The Brookings Institution recommends the federal government provide greater technical assistance to local communities seeking to increase affordable housing in more places and at more price points, and utilizing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to monitor the action of large firms with significant rental portfolios. 

In the Kansas City region, there is a need for more data standardization and integration to assist in the development of data-driven policies based on the experiences of residents and the needs of the community. There is a need to increase the supply of affordable housing given the existing gap of 64,000 units. As evidenced by research on institutional investors in other regions, these activities both limit the supply of housing, make homebuying more expensive, and increase rents. To build affordable housing across the region, policies and strategies will need to be attentive to developing greater supply in many places with a range in prices as well as ensuring the well-being of renter households regardless of who owns the property.



An, B.Y., 2023. The Influence of Institutional Single-Family Rental Investors on Homeownership: Who Gets Targeted and Pushed Out of the Local Market?. Journal of Planning Education and Research, p.0739456X231176072.  

Dezember, R., 2016. ‘This Could be Huge,’ Blackstone CEO said of foreclosure opportunity. The Wall Street Journal, 6 Dec. accessed 12 Dec. 2023.

Fields, D. and Raymond, E.L., 2021. Racialized geographies of housing financialization. Progress in Human Geography, 45(6), pp.1625-1645.

Goodman, L., Zinn, A., Reynolds, K. and Noble, E., 2023. A Profile of Institutional Investor–Owned Single-Family Rental Properties. Urban Institute.

Kaysen, R., 2023. New Legislation Proposes to Take Wall Street Out of the Housing Market. The New York Times, 6 Dec. accessed 12 Dec. 2023.

Raymond, E.L., Duckworth, R., Miller, B., Lucas, M. and Pokharel, S., 2018. From foreclosure to eviction: Housing insecurity in corporate-owned single-family rentals. Cityscape, 20(3), pp.159-188.

Seymour, E. and Akers, J., 2019. Portfolio solutions, bulk sales of bank-owned properties, and the reemergence of racially exploitative land contracts. Cities, 89, pp.46-56.