MAPC finds investors accounted for 21% of Mass. home sales from 2004-2018

BOSTON — Investors and speculators are one reason housing prices have soared over the last two decades, according a new report from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

The MAPC studied thousands of housing transactions in Greater Boston between 2004 and 2018 and found 21 percent, or one in every five homes, were made by an investor.

“We expected it to be significant. I think one in five is alarming,” said MAPC Interim Director of Date Services Jessie Partridge Guerrero. “That means that first-time home buyers and lower and moderate income home buyers are really squeezed out of the opportunity of owning a home.”

In its report “Homes for Profit,” the MAPC found investors are more likely to pay with cash, purchase homes at a discount, and flip properties for profit. That makes it even more difficult for families and owner-occupant buyers to purchase a home, the MAPC said.

“This research puts data behind a notion that people have had for years: speculators are driving up housing costs in Greater Boston,” the report said.

Median sale prices for single-family homes and condominiums in Massachusetts reached all-time highs this fall, according to The Warren Group. A single-family home sold for $575,140 in October, a 10.6 percent increase from Oct. 2022.

The MAPC’s definition of “investor” included LLCs and individuals or entities buying three or more properties in five years. The MAPC determined investment activity was highest in neighborhoods with relatively low housing prices, a high percentage of renters and the highest share of immigrants and people of color.

“The research report really confirms what we’re seeing on the ground at City Life and what we’ve been seeing for years,” said Katie McCann, Rent Control Campaign Coordinator for the housing advocacy group City Live/Vida Urbana. McCann argues the MAPC report is more evidence that Boston needs rent control and more protections for tenants.

“We really need solutions that stabilizes working class renters in their homes right now so they’re not displaced out of their communities,” McCann said.

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