The Butler family owned this home for nearly five decades. But after Marcus’ mother died in 2012, the house became a pawn in a real estate game that last year helped plunge America’s homeownership rate to its lowest level since 1965.
While soaring home prices, stagnating wages and tough loan requirements surely have contributed to historically low homeownership, the story of this modest bungalow suggests a more deliberate force at work, one commandeered by a cabal of Trump’s closest associates.
It was foreclosed on by a bank run by Steve Mnuchin, now Trump’s treasury secretary, and Joseph Otting, whom Trump nominated to be America’s chief bank regulator. The bungalow was then sold on the courthouse steps to a company created by Tom Barrack, a Southern California real estate mogul and one of Trump’s oldest friends.
Eventually, the home was bundled, along with more than 3,000 other single-family homes, into a $514 million mortgage-backed security, which holds the deed to the house. The company that created that security, JPMorgan Chase & Co., is led by Jamie Dimon, vice chairman of an economic advisory panel that met regularly with Trump until it disbanded last month in the wake of the president’s comments blaming “both sides” for violence at an alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Also last month, a firm founded by the chairman of that same economic panel, Stephen Schwarzman, announced that it was merging with the company Barrack founded — creating the largest single-family-home rental company in America.