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Home sellers, Shelby County assessor united to slow down outside investors buying and renting local homes

Assessor said investment groups diluting home ownerships in neighborhoods, affecting overall quality. Options on table to slow investor influence.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Local home sellers and the Shelby County assessor are banding together to slow outside investors that are making home ownership increasingly difficult for Mid-South families. On top of that, Zillow reports year-to-year Memphis home values up 23%.

Shelby County Susie Lynch wants to change this trend - on her terms.

"People are struggling and they are trying to plan a future and they don't know what it's going to be," Lynch said.

When she puts her Arlington home on the market soon, there's one condition: it must go to a local family and not an outside investor.

"People that are going to enjoy it and raise their kids in it and be proud to own it," Lynch added.

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Her personal concern about outside investors swooping in and buying up area properties is seconded by Shelby County Assessor Melvin Burgess.

"It lessens the inventory so what does that do for first time homebuyers or what does that do for the American Dream?" Burgess said. "The American Dream was everyone wanted to buy their own home and it's going to be difficult."

Burgess said investors purchased more than 7,000 singly family homes in the past two years. In that surge, Burgess said investors often outbid local families with all-cash offers and rented out those homes at a higher rate.

"The market, it's steadily going up when it comes to housing and people are taking advantage of it," Burgess added.

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Burgess said diluting local homeownership opportunities also causes ripple effects elsewhere in communities. 

"All of a sudden it's overwhelmed with rental properties where people aren't keeping up with their homes, your value will go down and it causes your neighborhood to go down," Burgess said.

That's why Burgess is pursuing ways for homeowner associations to fight back, change their charter and limit investor home sales or ban them altogether.

As for Lynch, she said it's up to other local home sellers to do their part and slow the trend.

"We to need to reign it in and say to these investors, 'yes, you need to make money' but we need to look at the homeowners and say 'yes, you need to own your home at a fair price and be able to plan financially for that home' and right now it's impossible," Lynch said.

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