This post has been written by Sara Özogul.
Governance and planning studies are increasingly focused on property development and the role of property investors. However, these investors are often seen as a single group, despite being diverse in reality. Some scholars have called for a better understanding of investors and their characteristics in urban development, criticizing the generalized perceptions of these actors in existing literature. We noticed a lack of systematic reviews providing strong evidence on the limited exploration of investor diversity in academic studies.
To address this gap, we conducted a systematic analysis of literature on residential investment landscapes. We searched through the Web of Science citation database, specifically looking at articles in the fields of urban and regional planning, geography, sociology, urban studies, public administration, and economics. We found 642 peer-reviewed journal articles published between 2000 and April 2019 that were relevant to our research. Within these articles, we systematically examined how investors were described, categorized, and differentiated.
Through our analysis, we identified four meta-categories that highlight how the existing literature distinguishes investors based on their operational scale, size and social composition, investment targets and financing, as well as their investment and social behavior. We also highlighted the main topics and issues addressed within each meta-category.
We argue that the one-dimensional approaches commonly found in journal articles are insufficient to capture the diversity of investors in today’s dynamic residential property markets. This limitation hinders both nuanced empirical analyses and theoretical advancements in understanding the connections between finance and the residential built environment. It is particularly important for planning scholars to avoid generalizations about investors in their analyses, as overlooking crucial elements can impact research findings and impede the development of practical recommendations. Failing to specify the characteristics of residential property investors in planning research may lead to disillusionment and, at worst, defeat among practicing planners and policymakers in the face of contemporary urban dynamics.
Therefore, we propose transforming the four meta-categories into a multidimensional analytical framework. This framework would serve as a starting point for a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of investor distinctions, addressing the urgent need for improved tools in Planning Studies and related disciplines.
The full article can be accessed here: Özogul, S. and T. Tasan-Kok (2020). One and the same? A systematic literature review of residential property investor types. Journal of Planning Literature, 35(4), 475-494.