March 24, 2015
- Representative Delany (D-MD) and Others Recently Re-Intoroduced The Partnership to Strengthen Homeownership Act, originally introduced in July 2014, The Act Promises to Reform Housing Finance, Strengthen Affordable Housing and Reduce Taxpayer Risk
- Senator Charles Schumer and Others recently Sent a Letter Urging Congress to Allocate at Least $35 Million to Fund the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 4 Capacity Building and Affordable Housing Program
- The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, Recently Introduced Into the Senate, Would Invite Private Contractors to Upgrade HUDs Energy Efficiency, With Compensation Tied to Acually Realized Energy Savings
- Court denies US Bank’s opportunity to revive suit against Citigroup over hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities sold during the financial crisis.
- IL court refuses to dismiss suit against Bank of America over lowering underwriting standards for borrowers protected by the Fair Housing Act.
- National Credit Union Administration sues HSBC claiming it failed as trustee for $2 billion of residential mortgage-backed securities trusts and lead to the downfall of five credit unions.
March 20, 2015
Jeanne Calderon and Gary Friedland have posted A Roadmap to the Use of EB-5 Capital: An Alternative Financing Tool for Commercial Real Estate Projects. The paper provides a great overview of a relatively new source of funding for real estate deals. The introduction opens,
From an immigrant’s perspective, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program (“EB-5” or the “Program”) represents merely one of several paths to obtain a visa. The EB-5 visa is based on the immigrant’s investment of capital in a business that creates new jobs. However, from a real estate developer’s perspective, the immigrant’s investment to qualify for the visa creates an alternative capital source for the developer’s project (“EB-5 capital” or “EB-5 financing”).
Despite the Program’s enactment by Congress in 1990, for many years EB-5 was not a common path followed by immigrants to seek a visa. However, when the traditional capital markets evaporated during the Great Recession, developers’ demand for alternate capital sources rejuvenated the Program. Since 2008, the number of EB-5 visas sought, and hence the use of EB-5 capital, has skyrocketed. EB-5 capital has become a capital source providing extraordinary flexibility and attractive terms, especially to finance commercial real estate projects. Consequently, many developers routinely consider EB-5 capital as a potential source to fill a major space in the capital stack. As the financing tool becomes more widely known and understood, this source of capital should become even more popular.
The EB-5 investor’s motivation for making the investment accounts for the relative flexibility and favorable terms afforded by EB-5 capital compared to conventional capital sources. Unlike that of the conventional capital providers (such as banks, private equity funds, REITs, life insurance companies and pension funds), the EB-5 investor’s reason for making the investment is to secure a visa. Thus, his primary objective at the time of making the investment is to satisfy the EB-5 visa requirements. Consequently, so long as the investor believes that the investment will qualify for the visa and result in the safe return of his capital, he is willing to accept a below market, if not minimal, return on the investment. Furthermore, the investor might not require some of the other protections that more sophisticated, conventional real estate investors typically seek.
* * *
Simply stated, the Program requires that the immigrant make a capital investment of $500,000 or $1,000,000 (depending on whether the project is located in a “Targeted Employment Area”) in a business located within the United States. The business must directly create 10 new, full-time jobs per investor. Thus, the number of jobs that a project will create is a key determinant of the amount of the potential EB-5 capital raise. (3-4)
This once exotic funding technique is now becoming quite mainstream. Of interest to some readers of this blog, the paper describes at various points how EB-5 funds have been used in residential projects. The paper is a useful introduction for those who want to know more about this program.
- Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Report on the Progress of Implementation of its Strategic Plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Conservatorships
- House Republicans Budget Plan “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,” Would Change Funding for process for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (it would also repeal “onerous” policies enacted under Dodd-Frank in 2010)
March 19, 2015
Henry Rose has posted How Federal Tax Expenditures That Support Housing Contribute to Economic Inequality to SSRN. This short article examines “how federal income tax laws benefit more affluent owner households but provide no benefits to economically-strapped renter households.” (1) Housing policy analysts (myself included) constantly bemoan the regressive nature of federal tax policy as it relates to housing, but it is always worth looking at the topic with updated numbers. And this article contains some tables with some interesting numbers.
One table provides an overview of the estimated tax savings (in billions) in FY 2014 for five federal tax expenditures for owners of housing that they occupy:
Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) $66.91
Property Tax Deduction (PTD) $31.59
Capital Gains Exclusion on Sales $35.54
Net Imputed Rental Income Exclusion $75.24
Discharge of Mortgage Indebtedness Exclusion $3.1
The next table provides an estimated distribution of two of these tax expenditures (FY 2014, savings in millions):
Tax-Filer AGI PTD Tax Savings MID Tax Savings
Below $50,000 $693 $1,443
$50,000-75,000 $2,190 $4,330
$75,000-100,000 $3,478 $6,581
$100,000-200,000 $13,648 $27,421
$200,000+ $11,798 $29,340
Total $31,806 $69,115
The article concludes by noting that despite
the great disparity in economic positions between owners and renters, federal tax expenditures lavish tax savings on primarily affluent owners and provide none for renters. The federal tax expenditures for owners are so generous that interest can be deducted on mortgage balances up to $1,000,000 and can also be taken on second homes, even yachts, as well as primary residences. It is difficult to conceive of a federal public policy that more directly promotes economic inequality than the federal tax expenditures that support owners of housing but are not available to renters. (9-10, footnote omitted)
I don’t expect this disparity to be addressed any time in the near future, given the current political environment, but it is certainly one that should stay at the top of any list of reforms for those concerned with promoting equitable federal housing policies.
- Citilab Calculates and Charts the Number of Years of Income it Would Take for the Average Household to Buy a Home in Metro Areas Across the Country
- CoreLogic’s Equity Report Finds Millions of Homes Still In Negative Equity Situation
- Fannie Mae’s February 2015 National Housing Survey Finds Consumer Optimism Toward the Economy Reaches New All-Time Survey High as Does Ease of Obtaining a Mortgage
- Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Report: How Mortgage Finance Affects the Urban Landscape
- Freddie Mac March 2015 U.S. Economic & Housing Market Outlook & Housing Interactive Map: What Affects Homebuyer Affordability
- Urban Institute, Housing Policy Center Briefs: What to Make of the Dramatic Fall in GSE Profits & The Impact of Early Efforts to Clarify Mortgage Repurchases: Evidence from Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Latest Data