ESTATE


Fed prepares for commercial market bailout
2009/03/10, 7:22 pm
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Real estate experts agree that the best hope for avoiding a commercial real estate crisis similar to the residential one is another bailout from the federal government.

Last week, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke suggested at least $1 trillion in credit would be forthcoming in order to avoid a “looming crisis.”

Analysts say that while delinquencies are few, office vacancy rates are nearing record levels. This leaves banks holding $1.72 trillion in outstanding commercial loans and many of them are on buildings that are nearly empty. In 2009, $300 billion of these loans are due to be refinanced by commercial banks, but the banks are reluctant to refinance because the properties are dropping in value.

Since both insurance companies and pension funds are heavily invested in commercial real estate, they, too, are at risk.

“The need is urgent,” says Kenneth Rosen, a professor of real estate at the University of California in Berkeley. “It is important to get this done before we have another problem.”
Source: Christian Science Monitor, Ron Scherer (03/09/2009)

http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2009031001?OpenDocument

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Washington report on loan limit laws and more
2009/02/18, 5:26 pm
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These limits were equal to the greater of 125% of the 2008 local area median home price or $271,050 for FHA and $417,000 for Fannie and Freddie, with an overall maximum cap of $729,750. For the few areas where the 2009 limits were higher, the higher limits will apply. In addition, the bill includes language providing the HUD Secretary with the discretion, if warranted, to increase the loan limit for any “sub-area”, i.e.an area smaller than a county. The Secretary’s discretion is again limited by the $729,750 cap. These 2009 limits will expire December 31, 2009.

The inclusion of these loan limit provisions in the final bill is a victory for homeowners, buyers and REALTORS(R). While these new limits were included in version of the original stimulus bill approved by the House, the bill first approved by the Senate did not. NAR’s Call for Action to both the House and the Senate prior to the final vote advocated strongly for the provisions which were then included in the final bill approved by both Chambers. NAR has estimated the new 2009 Loan Limits by county.

Neighborhood Stabilization — Division A, Title XII of the bill provides $2,000,000,000 in additional funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). The NSP was created by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-289) to provide grants through the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) to states and localities to address the problems that can be created when whole neighborhoods are decimated by foreclosures. The funds can be used to purchase, manage, repair and resell foreclosed and abandoned properties. In addition, the funds can also be used by states and localities to establish financing methods for the purchase and redevelopment of foreclosed properties. After purchase the homes must be used to assist individuals and families with incomes at or below 120% of area median income. Twenty-five percent of funds must be used for households with incomes at or below 50% of area median income. By leveraging their expertise in partnership with others from both the public and private sector, REALTORS(R) in many communities have been making important contributions to their local communities’

Commercial Real Estate — Commercial real estate is impacted primarily through those provisions of the bill focused on green building and energy efficiency as well as business tax incentives. H.R. 1 provides significant funds for state energy programs, which could be used to support commercial property owners’ investment in energy efficiency upgrades while commercial property owners seeking to invest in alternative energy systems for onsite power generation would benefit from the Department of Energy Renewable Energy Loan Guarantees Program. Of particular benefit to small businesses would be certain provisions of the bill that provide tax relief in the area of bonus depreciation and capital expenditures, as well as the 5-Year carryback of net operating losses for small businesses.

Rural Housing Service — The bill provides an additional $500 million to existing USDA Rural Housing programs. The RHS provides both a guaranteed loan program and a direct housing loan program for those meeting the program’s eligibility criteria. The direct loan program will receive $270 million while $230 million will be allocated for unsubsidized guaranteed loans. It has been reported that this level of funding would provide for an additional 192,000 homeowners.

Low Income Housing Grants — Allow states to trade in a portion of their 2009 low-income housing tax credits for Treasury grants to finance the construction or acquisition and rehabilitation of low-income housing, including those with or without tax credit allocations.

Tax Exempt Housing Bonds — Tax-exempt interest earned on specified state and local bonds issued during 2009 and 2010 will not be subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). In addition, financial institutions will have greater capacity to purchase tax-exempt state and local bonds.

Energy Efficient Housing Tax Credits & Grants — To promote green jobs and energy independence, ARRA invests significantly in efforts to make homes and buildings more energy efficient. The bill provides state and local governments with $6 billion in energy efficiency and conservation grants for energy audits, retrofits and financial incentives. Through 2010, homeowners will be able to claim a 30% tax credit (up from 10%) for purchases of new furnaces, windows and insulation. Another $5 billion will be available to modernize the nation’s electricity grid and install smart meters on homes that help to save consumers money. There is also $5 billion for weatherization assistance for low income households and $2 billion for federally assisted housing (section 8) efficiency efforts.
neighborhood stabilization programs.