CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Four thousand single-family homes on the market in Hamilton County are gobbled up by just five investors, and they don’t even live in the Tri-State. That presents a problem for people looking to buy and own their own affordable homes.
Local organizations are doing what they can to buy back housing from investors, but it’s not that easy. Laura Brunner, president and CEO of The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, testified before members of the U.S Senate Tuesday morning about the impact institutional investors are having on the housing market.
“You've had a good long run, and it's time for you to start selling your properties,” Brunner told Local 12 in an interview. “You should not take the American dream away from our families.”
“Institutional Investors found a very profitable new sector. They have been purchasing large volumes of single-family homes in the region's most disinvested neighborhoods and turning them into rental properties. They make all cash offers and box out first-time and low-income buyers,” Brunner said.
Brunner says, in July, Cincinnati had the largest jump in rental prices in the country. That’s why The Port is working to buy back homes from investors.
In December, The Port bought 194 single-family homes from a California firm. The goal is to create a path to homeownership for local families.
Rachel Hastings, executive director of Price Hill Will, also works to buy homes for the organization's affordable homeownership program.
“It's a struggle for us to buy these houses because investors are scooping ... them up so quickly that we have a hard time competing with those investors,” Hastings said. “We have cash, and we cannot make it to the buildings fast enough before they get sold to these investors.”
In Price Hill alone, Hastings says hundreds of properties have been bought by investors.
“It's just about money to them. And so, really, what it's doing is it's making it a transaction that only has a value for them for cash. But for us, it's our neighbors. It's our community. It's the health of our neighborhoods, and so, it has a really dramatic impact,” Hastings said. “So even what we're doing, what the Port's doing and other entities, we're trying really hard, but it is an uphill battle.”