CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County and Charlotte city leaders are seeking solutions as outside investors continue gobbling up the housing inventory, forcing people to rent at a much higher price.

Redfin reports investors bought nearly one out of every three homes in Charlotte at the end of last year, which is well above the national average.

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Most of the homes targeted by wall street-back investors are in low-income communities, leaving many afraid of the long-term effects.

Some city and county leaders say if this trend continues, it will bring many problems impacting economic mobility and first-time home buyers.

They say over time, Mecklenburg County could become a place where people can come to work but not afford to live.

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"When you see the data and it hits you in the face and reality sets in," Mark Jerrell, District four commissioner, said. 

He said investors are continuing to buy up a record share of homes often with cash offers over the asking price, making it even more difficult for first-time homebuyers.

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"When you look at the data and you see the areas that have been impacted it’s the areas that can least afford to be impacted in this," Jerrell said. 

The Charlotte Observer held a summit earlier this month discussing long-term impacts and possible solutions.

"It's an economic enslavement of Black and brown people," Jessica Maria, a panelist at the summit, said. 

In Charlotte, investors bought more than 30% of homes in the fourth quarter of 2021, which is well above the 20% national average.

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The same is true in Atlanta and just behind the two southern cities are Jacksonville, Phoenix and Las Vegas, according to Redfin.

The ongoing trend is leaving city leaders, homeowner associations, and potential buyers across the country with one lingering question, what is the solution?

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"I don’t know if we will have a solution because so much of this is so unique," Tiffany Capers, a panelist at the summit, said. 

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While many cities have yet to propose policies, city leaders in our area say they are trying to find the best mechanisms to support residents.

"We need real regulations and government intervention look what this has gotten us," Maria said. 

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She said affordable housing needs to stay affordable forever.

Other community leaders suggested things like buying land and offering it for below market value, working on different programs to increase the rate of homeownership, and adding more barriers to restrict corporate ownership.

"I'm going to make sure I fight for those people that are going to work every day that are trying to keep food on the table for their families," Jerrell said. 

Homeowners associations in some of the hottest markets are also responding and implementing new restrictions on occupancy, but officials in our area there is only so much they can do.

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