Opportunity Zones Show Potential for Small Businesses, Neighborhoods

BY  ON OCTOBER 24, 2019

As the ranking member of the House Committee on Small Business, I hear time and time again from small business owners who become entrepreneurs to achieve the American Dream. However, their continued success can create ripples far beyond their individual lives. When their businesses hire or expand facilities, they create jobs and drive the economy in their communities. A slate of successful businesses, combined with pro-business policies, can attract potential investors and entrepreneurs to the area and create a positive business ecosystem.

Unfortunately, not all communities – even within the same city – receive the same level of investment. Sometimes, the loss of a major employer or industry starts a cycle where vacant storefronts discourage new businesses and a lack of employment prompts some to move. This problem of low or underinvestment affects lots of places, from former coal towns to urban enclaves, and can cause a host of secondary social and economic issues.

Recently, I had the chance to discuss one possible solution with leaders from Cincinnati’s business community and representatives from several regional chambers of commerce, law firms and economic development agencies. That solution is opportunity zones.

Opportunity zones were established in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and intended to encourage investment in economically disadvantaged communities using select tax incentives. The zones are tracts of land that meet certain criteria for median income and poverty rate as established by previous tax provisions. A smaller number of zones can be contiguous to those who meet the income and poverty rate conditions. Governors nominated a limited number of these areas, and the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury officially designated them as opportunity zones.

To take advantage of the tax benefits, investors must create a Qualified Opportunity Fund that they use to invest in these areas. In return, capital gains tax is deferred for reinvested funds. Incentives improve as funds are held in the opportunity zone. After holding the investment for five and seven years, an investor’s capital gains tax liability can be reduced by 10% and 15%, respectively, and after 10 years, liability on new gains from the investment can be canceled altogether. This mechanism ensures that benefits can only be realized by committing to the community for a significant period.

That’s a lot of technical stuff, but the bottom line is that businesses sustain communities, and when they leave, it can be hard to reestablish a neighborhood. By creating benefits to settling in underserved areas, opportunity zones have the potential to revitalize areas across the country through public-private partnerships such as those we see in the city of Erie, Pennsylvania, and right here in Over-the-Rhine.

Of course, as with any new federal program, we must consider the impact on program participants, community stakeholders and the American taxpayer. Some recent articles have portrayed opportunity zones as a gimmick that will only benefit real estate developers. While I disagree with this characterization, I agree that there should be a strong focus on how small businesses can engage in and benefit from opportunity zones. Additionally, the rules and regulations of the program must be written so they are not unnecessarily burdensome to potential investors. At our roundtable, I had the chance to discuss these issues as well as potential solutions, and we certainly have a lot to consider as we continue to work on this issue at the federal level.

While other tax incentive programs have aimed to increase development in low-income areas, some have had mixed results, and many had restrictive requirements.  Opportunity zones offer a more flexible approach that I believe has the potential to truly make a difference for our nation’s underserved communities.

Steve Chabot

Congressman Steve Chabot represents Ohio’s 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives and is the ranking member of the House Committee on Small Business.  He has proudly served Ohio’s First Congressional District for 20 years. A lifelong Cincinnatian, Steve previously served as a Cincinnati City Councilman and Hamilton County Commissioner for five years each prior to being elected to Congress in 1994.


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Nonrevolving Debt is Surging

BY  ON OCTOBER 24, 2019

The NAHB’s Eye on Housing picked up on an interesting tidbit in the latest Federal Reserve G.19 Consumer Credit Report that shows rising trends in consumer credit, excluding loans secured by real estate, through August 2019.  They point out that most of the increase in this period also owed to the closed-ended credit extended by the federal government, which is also the largest component of nonrevolving debt which they say manifests most prominently in the form of student loans – a long-established barrier to homeownership.  Indeed…

“This month’s percentage increase in nonrevolving debt is the largest increase that has occurred since November 2017, when it had increased by 7.9% from the previous month. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, this month’s flow of $36 billion to the previous month’s outstanding level of nonrevolving debt marks the greatest increase since August 2016.”

Click here to read the full report at the NAHB’s Eye on Housing.

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Rents Grow & Vacancy Rates Shrink in Manufactured-Home Communities

BY  ON OCTOBER 23, 2019

A new study says that as the demand for workforce housing is growing, so too is the demand for renting in manufactured-home communities (MHC).  Citing a recent study from Marcus & Millichap, the Scotsman Guide is reporting that this trend is being fueled by the relatively low price of renting in an MHC compared to the cost to rent an apartment.  They say that as a result of this demand, vacancies within MHCs are decreasing, causing rents to rise.  Indeed….A little Econ 101:

“The shrinking vacancy rate is boosting rent growth nationwide, Marcus & Millichap reported, with manufactured-housing units in the Southeast region posting the largest year-over-year rent increase this past July…”

Click here to read the full story at the Scotsmanguide.com.


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Homeowners Tapping into the Auxiliary Dwelling Unit Trend

BY  ON OCTOBER 23, 2019

Recently we saw a garden shed apartment that was being rented out for over $1k per month, now we’ve learned from CNBC’s Diana Olick, that more & more homeowners are carving out revenue streams from their backyards by constructing auxiliary dwelling units (ADU).  So, what is this new real estate investing trend and how exactly does it work?


Click here to read the full story at CNBC.com.

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Housing America's Older Adults

BY  ON OCTOBER 22, 2019

We have posted a lot about the growing segment of retiring baby-boomers and where/how they’re going to live.  A new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) says “housing inequality is becoming increasingly evident among older Americans as the number of older households climbs to unprecedented levels” and with that the requisite cost burden warnings.  However, they also remind us that between between 2012-2017, the number of households headed by someone 65+ grew from 27 million to 31 million.  And, as real estate investors know, they will all need a place to live – whether it’s a downsizing or just a relocation.

“The falloff in homeownership rates among those approaching retirement, and the elevated levels of mortgage debt among those who do own, is concerning,” says Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “And there are significant differences in owners and renters when it comes to preparedness for retirement.”

“…homeowners have far greater net wealth than renters: in 2016, the median homeowner age 65 and over had a net worth of $319,200, compared to the same-age renter whose net worth was just $6,700…”

Click on the chart above to make it interactive.

Click here to read the full report at Harvard’s JCHS.

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Top 10 Markets for Flipping

BY  ON OCTOBER 21, 2019

The good folks over at Realtor.com said that it seems like everyone is getting into real estate game or at least dreaming about it.  In fact, they remind everyone that it’s just not as easy as it looks on HGTV and that something called reality sets in.  That’s why their economics team crunched the numbers to find the hottest markets for investors – the ones with cities where the highest percentages of home sales are for flipping or turned into rentals, usually after a rehab.

“To truly make bank in the housing investment game, you need to pick your markets carefully—especially since profits just about everywhere are being squeezed by high home prices, a shortage of affordable older places for sale, and cutthroat competition from legions of buyers and fellow investors.”

Click here to read the full story at Realtor.com.

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Housing Starts & Building Permits Down in September

BY  ON OCTOBER 21, 2019

The U.S. government is reporting that privately‐owned housing starts in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,256,000.  This figure is 9.4% below August’s revised estimate but is 1.6% higher than September, 2018.  Single‐family housing starts in September were at a rate of 918k, which is 0.3% above August’s revised figure. September’s rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 327k.  Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,387,000. This figure is 2.7% below August’s revised rate but is 7.7% higher than September, 2018.  Single‐family authorizations in September were at a rate of 882k, which is 0.8% higher than August’s revised figure. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 470k in September.

Click here to read the full report at the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Benefits of Joining a REIA

BY  ON OCTOBER 11, 2019

This week’s infographic is really a no-brainier.  It illustrates just a few of the awesome benefits of joining a real estate investors association, or REIA as they’re commonly known.  You really do get “a bang for your buck” when you become a part of a local community of real estate investors.  Click here to find a REIA near you!  Happy Friday!!!

Click here to find a REIA near you!

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FTC Says Flipping Seminars with HGTV Stars are Scams

BY  ON OCTOBER 9, 2019

We have all watched those TV reality shows….you know the ones that make it look really easy to flip an old rundown house into thousands of dollars in profits.  Well, Tarek & Christina aside, the Federal Trade Commission and the State of Utah recently announced that they were charging a Utah-based company with lying to consumers in order to convince them to attend allegedly free real estate seminars across the country.  HousingWire is reporting that the FTC says the company (Zurixx) promised to give away the secrets to making money flipping houses at their events, but actually charged just thousands of dollars for what they say were supposed “secrets.”   In addition HW reports that the FTC says the entire operation is a scam, with the company allegedly using “deceptive promises of big profits to lure consumers into real estate seminars costing thousands of dollars.”

“…Zurixx entices people to attend its “free” real estate seminars by using HGTV stars and other TV personalities as celebrity endorsers and claims that attendees can learn how to flip houses to make money……Zurixx’s business model has come under fire in recent years, with many customers accusing the company of using false advertising to entice them to attend the company’s events…”

National REIA believes that the best place to get started in real estate investing is to attend a meeting of your local NREIA affiliated REIA (aka a real estate investor association).  Click here to find a group near you.

Click here to read the full story on HousingWire.com.

Click here to read the FTC complaint.

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Top 10 Counties with Worst & Best Home Affordability

BY  ON OCTOBER 8, 2019

According to new research from ATTOM Data Solutions, 74% of the U.S. housing markets is unaffordable for average wage earners searching for a median-priced home.  So, where are the areas that are affordable for average wage earners?  Using data from their Q3 2019 Home Affordability Report, they found the best and worst places for home affordability in America.  They determined affordability for average wage earners by calculating the amount of income needed to make monthly house payments (mortgage, property taxes and insurance, etc) on a median-priced home, assuming a 3% down payment and a 28% maximum “front-end” debt-to-income ratio.  Indeed…

“Buying a home continues to be a rough road to navigate for the average wage earner in the United States. Prices are going up substantially faster than earnings in 2019 without any immediate end in sight, which continues to make home ownership difficult or impossible for a majority of single-income households and even for many families with two incomes,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions.

Click here to read the full report at ATTOM Data.

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