Last year, The Chronicle obtained data on almost every property in the Bay Area — about 2.3 million unique records. We were hoping the data would be

These 12 secret power players are shaping the Bay Area housing market

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2022-09-24 02:00:14

Last year, The Chronicle obtained data on almost every property in the Bay Area — about 2.3 million unique records. We were hoping the data would be a treasure trove of information about real estate ownership in the region, allowing us to easily identify who owns what, and thus pinpoint the most powerful corporate owners of rental housing.

Quickly, we learned it wasn’t so simple. California doesn’t have hard-and-fast rules on how property owners identify themselves; large corporations, hedge funds and even wealthy families often purchase multiple homes through shell companies or trusts, shielding their names from ownership records. It’s only by carefully tracing networks of ownership that one can start to grasp how much property an entity actually has.

So we redoubled our efforts. During the past year, The Chronicle analyzed these property records, which were collected from county assessors’ offices, plus nearly 7 million unique business records. We used machine learning methods to parse the data and called on dozens of experts and additional data sources. This work yielded a list of 12 of the Bay Area’s largest, most influential ownership networks. We believe this is an unprecedented effort to uncover rental ownership and management networks across all nine counties in the region: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma.

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