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Stop the Wall Street Take-Over of Our Housing Market!

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To understand what is happening in the housing market today, you have to also understand the reason that thousands of homeowners are still battling foreclosures started against them back in 2008, and many more are battling similar foreclosures today. As former bank regulator William Black and other experts interviewed in the Con investigative docu-series have opined, in the lead up to the 2008 ”mortgage meltdown”, Wall Street insiders such as the executives of Goldman Sachs, First Boston and others orchestrated an industry-wide scheme involving fake-appraisals, predatory home loans and dishonest real estate agents– targeting women, minorities and young working families looking to buy their first homes, among many others. The greedy scheme’s aim was to make obscene profits by converting the home loans post-sale into falsely-inflated-in-value mortgage-backed securities–which led to the 2008 recession, when the loans predictably failed. The ranks of billionaire Wall Street investment firm executives—such as at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan’s, Bank of America and Citibank– suddenly bloomed. They had “fortunately” bet against many of these securities. Plus, then their banks were bailed out by the Federal Reserve, leading to record bonuses after they “settled” one after another in the 2010’s, always for a pittance compared to what their greed scheme earned them. Homelessness, poverty, lost marriages, jobs and lives are what it cost the American public (see TheCon.TV docuseries outlining some of the events). Homeowners seeking public support for their battles against foreclosure have been the proverbial “canary in the coalmine”. According to independent candidate RFK, Jr., Wall Street corporations will own 60% of America’s single family homes in many places across the country by 2030 (https://www.kennedy24.com/housing).

Although hardly in existence before the crash, large corporate rental home companies—born out of the influx of cash from foreclosures, bailouts, and Federal “quantitative easing” money—appeared post-2008 as part of the Wall Street greed scheme and began buying up foreclosed homes. Of all of the 15-20 million homes that people lost (2008-2016)— about 1 in 5 single family homes in the U.S.—approximately 25% were ultimately bought up by home rental companies such as Pretium Partners, founded by Goldman Sachs exec Donald Mullen, and Invitation Homes owned by Blackstone (but sold in 2019, according to Housing Wire). Local governments and watchdogs turned their heads in the immediate aftermath of 2008, apparently happy that someone was buying up the homes—even if that someone was a corporation, which isn’t allowed by normal local standards.

According to a recent Tampa Bay Times investigative series called Buying Up the Bay by Rebecca Liebson and Teghan Simonton (Buying Up the Bay,), community expectations that these home rental companies would sell the homes back to private individuals haven’t been realized. Instead these companies have held onto the properties despite high demand for homes since 2008—creating much frustration and engendering fears that Generation X and future generations will be locked out of homeownership.  In many countries in Europe most private homes and property are owned by a very few individuals and/or corporations; in Germany, for example, 95% of the homes are owned by less than 5% of the population. This appears to be the aim of the current Wall St. greed scheme.

Blackstone is often confused with Black Rock, the company that former-Blackstone-exec (and former Boston First/Credit Suisse exec) Larry Fink started. Black Rock—who has made a big deal recently, in the onslaught of public interest in this matter, about NOT owning ANY properties—has actually been deeply involved, by having related securities in the investment funds it markets and through its ownership in Doc X/LPS. Apparently in order to continue to keep the foreclosures coming post-2008, in 2009 Black Rock bought up LPS, who ran Doc X, the famed robo-signing foreclosure-mill king that was targeted in the 2012 Mortgage Settlement Agreement due to being one of the companies that created forged (“robosigned”) mortgage foreclosure documents (and arguably faked legal rights) in order to get foreclosures pushed through. These foreclosures have been dubbed “fraudclosures” because the perpetrators, with vague-sounding trust names, arguably have no legal right to foreclosure for multiple reasons. Rental home companies such as Invitation Homes and others that have securities with Black Rock therefore have an insider connection in their buy up of foreclosure deals from their Wall Street buddies. In addition, they have computerized algorithms that help them find these fraudclosed homes, in addition to finding other profitable real estate deals on the regular market. (The average homebuyer doesn’t have a chance.) Those who are fighting fraudclosures have also alleged corrupt local court connections which help to ensure the fraudulent foreclosures are pushed through. Often judges’ retirement investments are based on these mortgage-backed securities’  foreclosures being pushed through, despite the evidence.

In many metropolitan areas across the country—most notably across the Sunbelt—alarm is growing over the numbers of homes and neighborhoods that are being bought up by home rental companies.  Part three of “Buying Up the Bay”, published in Tampa Bay during the past few months, details how these rental home companies are “clogging up the courts” with evictions, evicting at twice the rate of other Bay Area landlords. Complaints against these companies ( Invitation Homes, Sparrow Realty Investment, Amhurst Group and about 6 others) include slumlord practices such as leaving repairs undone, not accepting ANY excuses for late payments, ignoring payments, and putting tenants and all their belongings out on the street with little provocation and as little as 3 days notice.

Large rental home companies (designated so by the factor of whether or not they own more that 1000 homes) own 27,000 homes across the Tampa Bay area and are “exacerbating” the problem of individuals being shut out of the housing market due to these companies being able to offer tens of thousands of dollars over the asking price for the sales of these homes (and thereby also driving up the cost of buying a home).  These “rental home companies” have targeted historically black neighborhoods in St. Petersburg as well as low income areas in Brandon.

The investigative reporters who authored this story had trouble tracking who owned these companies as most employ dozens of related smaller companies to conceal a parent company. One large company, Progress Residential, for example, is linked to 100 LLC’s in the Bay Area, all with the same Arizona Post Office Box as addresses.  They are also using predatory investor tactics to acquire homes, such as bombarding homeowners in minority and low-income neighborhoods with sales offers–texting, calling and mailing, with “sight-unseen” offers, the  family members of homeowners. One black homeowner in Tampa stated, “There’s no amount of money for me to be able to give up land…Land is important…the having something to call our own is important.” Home ownership is known to be linked to self-esteem, intact families, and taking responsibility in one’s community–this is a nationwide crisis.

What can stop the takeover of the American Home Market? This is a question that APON and others in our network have posed to those running for office over the past fifteen years—with little result. Nothing has been done to stop fraudclosures—no executives ever went to jail for perpetrating this greed scheme, and no investigation has been done regarding the reasons that robo-signed documents have been filed in our nation’s courts by the millions since 2008—and are still being filed despite the Mortgage Settlements. Senator Sherrod Brown introduced the Stop Predatory Investing Act to stop the corporate buy-up of residential homes last year which is supported by the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies, Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), Enterprise Community Partners, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST), the National Housing Law Project (NHLP), and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). Yet it hasn’t progressed. California Democratic Representative Ro Khanna’s office is planning to re-introduce the similar Stop Wall Street Landlords Act after the bill failed in 2022, which would impose severe tax disincentives for home rental companies with over a certain amount in assets. The American Property Owners Network met with Sherrod Brown’s office last year and with Ro Khanna’s staff this year, hoping that the Congressmen could take action and/or strengthen the act to ensure that Wall Street’s entire fraud scheme is not only dismantled, but that a re-investigation is started and that those who have suffered fraudclosures and those currently being locked out of the housing market are justly compensated.

According to Senator Sherrod Brown’s website, by 2030 rental investment companies will own 40% of the entire American housing market for single family homes, and already do in some places in Ohio (https://www.brown.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/sherrod-brown-colleagues-bill-crack-down-corporate-investors-buy-local-homes-housing-prices). This is a battle in which homeowners, renters and those who have been evicted must unite to fight! Please help our fight by going to our Contribute page to become a paid member, to volunteer, and/or to sign up for free Action Alerts. Paid memberships are greatly needed, but if you cannot afford to do so, you may also become a member by submitting a 500 word essay about what has happened to you, in either trying to buy or defend a home along with links to your court documents (if any), or send a 5 minute video, along with your name and contact information so that we may reach out to you with any joint political or legal actions we may decide to take.  (Submit to admin@apropertyownersnetwork.org or one of our facebook pages.)

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  1. Traci Brown

    I don’t believe in almost everything today. I was part of the fraudclosures when bayview loan servicing, llc out me in foreclosure and evicted me out of my hm of 15 yrs on Mother’s Day of 2018! I haven’t had any acknowledgement or validation in this. Took bayview to federal court where they are me up like wolves and my constitutional rights were violated and they still got my home. I know in my heart trust my home red stolen so bayview and the thieves that put me on the street and got my home for nothing can die with knowing they are thieves and are doing henious crimes against people. I will never feel the same about our country or life itself! I have never been accounted for or have been right since. I don’t care anymore about life and Edgar happens, it’s so corrupt and not worth it anymore!!

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