The Restless Urban Landscape of Housing Financialization: Geographies of Residential Real Estate Investment Trust Expansion in Germany and the United States

Zac J. Taylor*, Manuel B. Aalbers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

The expansion of Residential Real Estate Investment Trusts (R-REITs) represents an important frontier in the financialization of housing and cities. This paper advances the literature on institutional real estate investment and corporate landlordism by analyzing how and where the 15 largest, publicly-listed R-REITS and REIT-like funds in Germany and the US are growing today. First, we introduce the metaphor of the feeding machine to characterize how key actors like the state, private equity, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) provide R-REITs with the properties, capital, and imperative to grow. Second, we find four geographical expansion strategies at work: (1) investment beyond mainstream asset classes: from multi-family apartments and single-family rentals to student flats, care homes, and mobile home and recreational vehicle sites, (2) the concentration and consolidation of ownership, through mergers and acquisitions and focused investment in select markets, (3) acquisition across national borders, and (4) institution-led new construction. Despite crucial nuances in individual R-REIT strategies and the housing systems of each country, our comparative analysis reveals shared trajectories and rationalities of expansion. We posit that ETFs and the indexes through which they allocate investment increasingly shape the restless urban landscape of R-REIT growth, pumping liquidity into spatially fixed assets.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Geography
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • housing
  • financialization
  • real estate investment trust (REIT)
  • exchange traded fund (ETF)
  • geographical concentration
  • corporate landlords

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