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.
While attention is often paid to the institutional investors, one overlooked component of this shifting economic quicksand is the growing presence of limited liability companies (LLCs) in the real estate market. This legal structure is favored by investors looking to profit by grabbing land, avoiding the tax collector, and dodging the ire of the public eye.
In this article we’ll describe how the LLC legal structure became a favorite weapon for real estate speculators, explain how they widen inequality, present our own research into their presence in New York City (NYC), and suggest some policy tools to uproot this pernicious weed ensnaring our cities.