Congressman introduces bill to discourage large investors from buying homes

Some point to large investors and private equity firms for the high cost of homes.

Recently, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced a bill aimed at slowing “the consolidation of single-family home ownership among the investor class.”

The Saving Homes from Acquisition by Private Equity Act, or the SHAPE Act, would institute a federal tax worth 100 percent of the value of the single-family home being bought, when that home is purchased by a “large investor.” The language of the bill defines a large investor as any person whose assets have an aggregate value of over $20 million.

It would not apply to homes being purchased to be the “principal residence,” or to certain tax-exempt organizations.

The revenue generated from the tax would be transferred to the Housing Trust Fund to be used as grants given for affordable housing projects in communities.

“Folks in our communities should not have to compete with large institutional investors and private equity firms when they go to buy a home, and renters should not be subjected to the harmful practices by these investor class landlords that want to wring the value out of each house,” said Smith. “My bill will deter this problematic trend that is damaging the housing market, consumers, and our communities.”

According to a housing market study from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, the percentage of single-family homes bought by investors reached a record in the first quarter of 2022. The investor share of homes sold averaged 28 percent per month in the first quarter of 2022, up from 19 percent a year earlier and well above the 16 percent share averaged in 2017 through 2019.

“By buying up single-family homes, investors have reduced the already limited supply available to potential owner-occupants, particularly first-time and moderate-income buyers,” the authors of the study wrote. “Investor-owned homes are typically converted from owner-occupied units to rentals or upgraded for resale at a higher price point.”

The full bill can be found here.