Warren resumes criticism of private equity’s role in housing

Warren resumes criticism of private equity's role in housing

Warren and other Democrats have scrutinized Wall Street’s role in the housing market since the 2008 financial crisis. During the pandemic, lawmakers have been on high alert for violations of eviction moratoriums and unfair treatment as Americans struggled financially to stay on their feet.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is multiplying down on her analysis of private equity’s  involvement in the U.S. real estate market as the country wrestles with an affordable housing shortage. In letters sent Thursday, the Massachusetts Democrat asked housing firms Progress Residential LLC, Invitation Homes Inc. also American Homes 4 Rent about ongoing rent climbs, plans to secure more properties and the quantity of expulsions in recent years.

Warren also expressed concern about automated homebuying practices, which allow companies to buy up properties using algorithms. Bloomberg reported that last year Zillow offloaded thousands of homes to institutional investors.

Invitation Homes and American Homes 4 Rent are both publicly traded companies. Blackstone Inc., a leading private-equity firm, took Invitation Homes public in 2017, but later sold its stake in the company. Progress Residential was formed by alternative-investment manager Pretium Partners LLC.

American Homes 4 Rent said in a statement that it was “looking to help improve the situation and arrive at solutions.” Progress Residential said it has complied with eviction moratoriums and would work with Warren. Invitation Homes didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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