Gen Z Eying Real Estate Trends

photo by Thomas Tolkien

The Washington Post along with its content partner National Association of Realtors quoted me in Eye on the Future. It reads, in part,

The suburbs as we know them are in flux. Many of the country’s bedroom communities have traditionally been known for their single-family homes and a lack of walkable public spaces. That’s changing as condos, sprawling townhome complexes and apartment buildings now dot areas where single-family homes would have been built.  Developers are building walkable public spaces to accommodate young families leaving cities but still seeking urban-like amenities.

 Another wave of change is expected in the next five to 10 years. That’s when members of Generation Z-those born on the heels of millennials-will become homeowners. Experts say they’ll transform areas that are sandwiched between major cities and suburbs into districts with an urban feel and amenities, without the hefty price tags major metros demand.

That transformation is already starting to happen. “Many of our ‘suburbs’ are actually neighborhoods in Los Angeles, particularly the San Fernando Valley,” said Kathryn Bishop, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Studio City, Calif. and member of the National Association of Realtors. “In the Valley, many neighborhoods have become mini ‘cores.’ Sherman Oaks, Encino and Woodland Hills have office towers, good restaurants and night-life business creating their own city areas.”

It’s no surprise that the younger generation needs to find an alternative to the sky-high costs of urban living. The Economic Policy Institute noted in 2016 that folks who live in San Francisco face a cost of living that’s 52.9 percent above the national average. For New Yorkers, living costs were 49.4 percent higher. The country’s least-affordable place to live was Washington D.C., where residents faced costs 63.5 percent higher than the national average.

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“Since the financial crisis there has been an increase in multigenerational households, driven in large part by financial limitations and insecurity as well as by marital status and educational attainment,” said David Reiss, professor of law and research director at he Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School.  “Young adults are more likely to live at their parent’s home in recent years than they have been for more than a century.”

Making the Switch to Dirt Law

photo by Tunde

Lawyer & Statesman quoted me in Real Estate Lawyers in Demand about how lawyers can make the transition to a dirt law practice. It reads, in part,

Real estate is one of the most fickle industries around — hot when the economy is growing and cold when it is not. The good news is that real estate is growing again and that means more jobs for attorneys.

Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing agency, reports that the real estate lawyer is the third most in-demand legal position in the South Atlantic region. Real estate is the second-fastest-growing legal industry in the South Atlantic region and the fourth fastest in the Mountain and Pacific regions.

At Brooklyn Law School, real estate law has become the most popular specialization. Graduates are finding more jobs in the specialization’s niche areas such as cooperative and condominium representation, said Professor David Reiss, who also serves as the academic program director of the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship.

If you have the time and money, Reiss thinks additional training in real estate can certainly help attorneys specialize their experience in the law. Course and certificates seem to be the best option in regards to both time and money.

“Taking a few relevant courses might make sense for most people instead of devoting the time and money that an LL.M. in real estate would entail,” he said. “Certain kinds of certificates can also help you stand out from other candidates, like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate. It does not involve nearly as much time or money as an LL.M. degree would, but it does signal a level of knowledge and commitment to a particular practice area.”

Don’t worry about getting your real estate license (unless you already have one). Spreading yourself too thin will be more harmful than productive, Reiss said. Attorneys also need to consider the requirements and restrictions of their individual jurisdiction.

“In some jurisdictions, such as New York, members of the bar are exempt from the various requirements necessary to become a licensed real estate broker,” he said. “But in my experience, lawyers are better off doing one thing well — being good lawyers — rather than being a jack of all trades.”

As with a lot of specialized areas of the law, real estate law has plenty of niche areas in which lawyers can further delve into. This can make you more attractive to clients and employers.

“Specializing in areas of the law relating to real estate can make a lot of sense — co-ops, condos and HOAs; construction law; land use; finance; affordable housing; and foreign investment programs, to name a few,” Reiss said.

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While real estate can be up and down, Reiss said real estate law could be a good field even during slower economic times.

“No matter what the economy as a whole is doing, clients are still buying and selling properties, financing and refinancing them, and entering into property leases,” he said.

To prepare for careers in real estate law, Brooklyn Law School encourages job applicants to have very focused resumes, which increases their marketability.

“We find that students with focused resumes can make a compelling case to a range of real estate employers, even if their overall GPA is not high,” Reiss said.

Participating in bar association committees is also highly recommended for networking and learning purposes. Reiss says it is important to notify your network that you are transitioning into a new specialization.

“A good word about your work ethic and ability to learn can help compensate for a lack of direct experience,” Reiss said.

All that said, Reiss recommends attorneys be sure of their specialization interests before getting too far into the field.

“You should keep in mind that once you specialize, many people will pigeonhole you in that area,” he said. “So you want to make sure that you like the practice area and that there is a sufficient flow of work to keep you busy.”

Wednesday’s Academic Roundup