Who Owns Urban America? A Methodology for Identifying Real Estate Owners

28 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2022

See all articles by Brian An

Brian An

Georgia Institute of Technology

Andrew Jakabovics

Enterprise Community Partners

Anthony W. Orlando

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona - Finance, Real Estate and Law Department

Seva Rodnyansky

Occidental College

Date Written: May 12, 2022

Abstract

Scholars and practitioners are increasingly interested in understanding who owns real estate in communities and the implications for approaches to planning and other public policy. Yet, practitioners lack an efficient and comprehensive methodology to assess ownership patterns. Variegated ownership, multiple legal entities, siloed databases within government bureaucracies, and inconsistencies in spelling and documentation across data entries add significant time and search costs in identifying real estate ownership and its concentrations. To address these challenges, this study provides a data-driven solution. Using OpenRefine, an open-source software, we present a step-by-step methodology for amassing data, cleaning textual inaccuracy, and clustering properties to uncover the ownership structure in local housing markets. Using a large U.S. urban county—Fulton County in Georgia—the application of our proposed methodology demonstrates its superior efficiency, comprehensiveness, and accuracy, compared to traditional approaches.

Keywords: property records, text as data, real estate ownership, concentration, market power

JEL Classification: R12, R14, D23, G32, Q15

Suggested Citation

An, Brian and Jakabovics, Andrew and Orlando, Anthony W. and Rodnyansky, Seva, Who Owns Urban America? A Methodology for Identifying Real Estate Owners (May 12, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4156785 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4156785

Brian An (Contact Author)

Georgia Institute of Technology ( email )

685 Cherry St
Atlanta, GA 30332
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.brian-y-an.com

Andrew Jakabovics

Enterprise Community Partners ( email )

United States

Anthony W. Orlando

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona - Finance, Real Estate and Law Department ( email )

United States

Seva Rodnyansky

Occidental College ( email )

1882 Campus Road
90041, CA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.oxy.edu/academics/faculty/seva-rodnyansky

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