A systematic literature review on residential investor types

In a our new publication, Tuna Tasan-Kok and I confirm the limited academic engagement with investor stratifications and establish a new analytical framework for scholars to think along multidimensional lines to prevent oversimplifications.


We previously raised concerns that even though investors differ vastly from one another, they are often generalized in the Planning and Urban Studies literature. In a new publication, we now provide the scientific evidence of this claim, as well as a way forward: a new interdisciplinary perspective to better understand the complexities of investors as residential property markets actors.

Conducting a systematic literature review allows for the identification of research gaps and for shaping future research frameworks. In the analysis, we focused on articles that mentioned investors combined with residential investment or housing in six disciplines: Urban and Regional Planning; Geography; Sociology; Urban Studies; Public Administration; and Economics. This inquiry led us to 4,602 publications between 2000 and 2019. Within the 4,602 journal articles, they systematically searched for those publications that went beyond using ‘investor’ as a generic term by mentioning different types of investors or by providing a categorisation of investors. The result: 117 publications. We analysed these 117 articles thoroughly and concluded that many scholars still fail to define and describe the type of investors they are naming. Differentiations that are made are frequently one-dimensional.

Tuna and I compiled all types and existing categorisations of residential property investors that we could find, and manually grouped them to let the data ‘speak’. Ultimately, we were able to create a meta-categorisation, assigning all entries to differentiate investors either in terms of their i) spatial scale of operation, ii) size and social composition, iii) investment object and finance, or iv) investment and social behaviour. In the paper, we discuss each meta-category in-depth. Additionally, we illustrate the prominence of the meta-categories among the six disciplines and review the key themes that scholars raise in relation to each meta-category.

Only when the phenomenon of residential property investors as an increasingly influential actor group in urban development is properly understood and differentiated, can practicing planners and urban policy makers make informed choices in their efforts to influence and regulate these actors. Therefore, Tuna and I propose to turn the four meta-categories into a multi-dimensional analytical framework as a point of departure for a more nuanced and in-depth understanding of investor differentiations, a tool that is urgently needed in Planning Studies and related disciplines.

Full reference:

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.

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