Wall Street investors, hedge funds and other institutions are crowing out individuals home buyers because they are drawn by the prospect of double-figure profit margins on rents and the resale of homes whose prices plummeted in the crash. 

If the chain of easy credit and dangerous leverage that started on Wall Street fanned the housing bubble and eventual crash, some analysts find it disturbing that major investors are the ones snapping up the bargains — and eventual big profits — left in its wake.

"There is the possibility that Wall Street and the banks and the affluent 1% stand to gain the most from this," said Jack McCabe, a real estate consultant. "Meanwhile, lower-income Americans will lose their opportunity for the American Dream of building wealth through owning a home."