REITs and Financialization across the Life Course

Authors: Martine August*, University of Waterloo
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Financialization, Housing, Seniors Housing, Social Reproduction
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Canadian REITS were launched in 1993 and in the decades since have expanded to focus on a diversifying array of ever-more niche asset classes. While early REITS invested in ‘tested’ asset classes like retail and office, today formerly ‘fringe’ products like seniors housing, student housing, self-storage, and short-term rental properties are available to investors through REITS and other vehicles. This process “assetizes” not only housing properties like multi-family homes, nursing homes, dorms, and so on, but it capitalizes on privately-offered services like health care, elder care, and housekeeping. With this penetration into the far reaches of real estate, finance profits from housing and other aspects of social reproduction across the life course – taking a cut, as it were, from cradle to grave. This paper draws together literatures examining the financialization of real estate and social reproduction, and builds on empirical research on students, senior, and apartment housing to examine how real estate investment extracts value from accommodation and from the functions of ‘everyday life’ at home, targeting every point in our lives. The paper explores conditions facilitating this shift, focusing on neoliberal governance, austerity, and policy changes related to housing and social welfare. In addition, it asks how current trends in commercial real estate investment are changing cities, affordability, and quality of life for tenants and workers.

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