Should state tax speculators, flippers?

House for sale

The TV commercials and online ads are fast becoming ubiquitous: “We’ll buy your house as is,” they trumpet. “No need to spend any money fixing it up.”

That’s commonly the message from housing speculators, often institutional investors including real estate investment trusts less interested in preserving or maintaining housing than cashing in as land values ​​rise. It’s the land, not the houses, that interests them most.

Says a Northern California citizens group called United Neighbors, “Non-wage capital, especially institutional and private equity, is entering the single-family market in unprecedented amounts.”

That’s a big reason why, the group contends, “California housing costs have inflated at such a rate that housing costs have completely decoupled from their historical wage-based income basis.”

That, they say, is the root cause of the affordability crisis. It is furthered by the fact that institutional investors, including pension funds like CalSTERS (the California State Teachers’ Retirement System) and CalPERS (the California Public Employees Retirement System) keep many This frees vacant while they await land value increases. This frees them from dealing with tenants and evictions when they decide to sell or to demolish existing homes and turn them into multi-unit properties.