Supersedes Working Paper 19-01 - Leaving Households Behind: Institutional Investors and the U.S. Housing Recovery
Using comprehensive property-level transaction data, we show that this phenomenon is largely explained by the emergence of institutional investors. By exploiting heterogeneity in a county's exposure to local lending conditions and to government programs that affected investors' access to residential properties, we estimate that the increasing presence of institutions in the housing market explains over half of the increase in real house price appreciation rates between 2006 and 2014. We further demonstrate that institutional investors contribute to the improvement of the local housing market by reducing vacancy rates as they shorten the amount of time distressed properties stay in REO. Additionally, institutional investors help lower local unemployment rates by increasing local construction employment. However, institutional investors are responsible for most of the declines in the homeownership rates.