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The International Ascendance of Build to Rent

Institutional investment into housing receives mounting attention in academia and policy circles. However, the ways in which institutional investors enter new markets and operate across different scales (from local to regional, national and international levels) is under-researched so far.

In this new article, Dr. Frances Brill (Girton College, University of Cambridge) and I follow the global residential landlord Greystar. We set out to understand how Greystar entered the build to rent (BTR) markets in London and Amsterdam. To do so, we developed a 'follow the firm' approach to understand the firm's behavior in relation to wider political institutional dynamics.

Our findings show that in both cities, Greystar entered the new markets by experimenting with student housing as a way to mitigate risk. Furthermore, local knowledge and meaningful connections with policy makers and local real estate industry actors were established. With our comparative analysis, we shed light on how one institutional investor engages in multiscalar corporate strategies and interacts with highly territorialized systems of regulation and urban governance.

The insights from London and Amsterdam contribute to the theorisation of financialisation, by demonstrating the multiscalar nature of the processes embedded within it.

The paper, which was published in Economic Geography, can be found here:

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