Robot Landlords Are Buying Up Houses

Imagine Homes is an example of an “automated landlord”. It is a company that uses new data tools and technologies to minimize the costs of on-site human labor while accumulating profits from rental properties. They are paramount to the new and growing sector of companies backed by Wall Street investment firms that buy up thousands of single-family rental homes across several states.

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Founded in 2016, the company is connected to Colchis Capital Management, a deep-pocketed West Coast investment fund interested in companies that automate and simplify real estate transactions. Not like most of the larger mass renters of single-family homes, they haven’t opened leasing offices in any of the cities where they operate—Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Minneapolis and St. Louis, according to The Automated Landlord, an expansive look at the role of technology in the Wall Street grab of houses, published in the February 2022 issue of the journal Environment and Planning.

The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story, has not specified its number of employees. By most indications, it is a scrappy outfit, with 35 employees listed on LinkedIn and 50 to 200 estimated by Indeed, all to manage 1,500 houses across four states and to rapidly acquire more. It outsources and automates most of the tasks that traditional landlords do.