As housing costs continue their inexorable climb upwards in cities across the US, concern is mounting about the role played by corporate investors. Referred to as the ‘financialization’ of housing, real estate is being hoovered-up by massive investment funds with names like BlackRock and Blackstone. With little personal connection to their tenants, these faceless investors engage in ruthless profit-seeking, deploying evictions as a weapon to raise rents as much as possible. The presence of these well-heeled investors is also driving prices upwards, pushing homeownership even further out of reach for the middle-class.
New Zealand is suffering many of the same ills that afflict American cities. Tenants facing ever-rising rents, young people and ethnic minorities being priced out of homeownership, widening inequality driven by soaring land values, sprawling cities and congested streets. A long and bitter debate that blamed land use regulations for these problems has largely been won by ‘YIMBYs’, with several waves of upzoning producing a budding building boom for townhouses and apartments. While there are some signs that rents may be easing as a result, these problems are far from solved, and public attention has begun to look for alternative solutions.