Building the Eviction Economy: Speculation, Precarity, and Eviction in Detroit

Eric Seymour, Joshua Akers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Evictions have recently gained attention as a problem affecting millions of households worldwide. This study contributes to knowledge on the conditions leading to housing insecurity and evictions by examining the role of foreclosure markets in feeding portfolios of slum landlords and contract sellers in Detroit’s single-family residential neighborhoods. Leveraging data from tax foreclosure auctions and eviction filings from 2005 to 2017, we link foreclosure sales to subsequent eviction cases and estimate the neighborhood-level impact of prior year tax sales on current year evictions. We separately examine the acquisition size and eviction rate of major individual auction buyers. These findings shed light on the contemporary construction of eviction economies in distressed cities through foreclosure markets and investors’ methods for profiting from the constrained housing options of low-income and credit-impaired households.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)35-69
Number of pages35
JournalUrban Affairs Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


  • Detroit
  • eviction
  • foreclosure
  • investors


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