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Looking to invest in Qualified Opportunity Zones? These resources may help

As investors across the nation seek to deploy billions of dollars in capital gains into Qualified Opportunity Zones, they are actively seeking guidance about the program and on the hunt for resources to help identify neighborhoods, assets and available land within opportunity zones most ripe for investment. 

The program, created through the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year, aims to incentivize private investment in underserved and otherwise blighted communities across the U.S. in exchange for a hefty tax break.

More than 8,700 census tracts have been classified as opportunity zones and numerous opportunity zones funds have already launched to take advantage of the program — with an estimated $6 trillion in unrealized capital gains eligible to be deployed into opportunity zones, according to a study conducted by Real Capital Analytics.

In response to high demand from firms and high net worth individuals interested in the opportunity zones program, a number of tools have come to market to help potential investors understand how the program works, identify neighborhoods that qualify for it and locate assets within the designated areas in need of investment.

“Opportunity zones have brought national attention to areas of the country that have been too often looked over for investment. Unlike traditional community development institutions, knowledge and understanding about these communities is quite limited,” Smart Growth Americas Vice President of Land Use and Development Christopher Coes told Bisnow. Coes is also director of national real estate developer and investor network LOCUS.

“The structure of the opportunity zones tax incentive places the onus on the investor to identify and conduct due diligence … which requires an understanding of not only the project but also the place. Because of this demand, we’re seeing a lot of tools [come to market] to help assist investors and policymakers.”

Read more on Bisnow

 

 

The Blockchain For Real Estate, Explained

There is a lot being written about blockchains, bitcoin and related technologies, and for many real estate professionals, this is part of a brave, new, confusing world of technology.

Like the original internet, the blockchain is a revolution in technology that will touch all people and all businesses. So people are paying attention, but many still don’t understand what the blockchain is.

Imagine that you and your best friend Bob are standing on a stage in an auditorium, and there are 1,000 people in the audience. In front of these 1,000 people, you hand your car keys to Bob, and Bob hands you his Rolex. You declare, “Bob, you now own my car.”

Bob declares back to you, “You now own my Rolex.” There are 1,000 witnesses who can each declare, without doubt, that your car now belongs to Bob, and the Rolex belongs to you. If anyone in the audience later tells a conflicting account of who owns the car or the Rolex, the other 999 people will refute it. And, if you take a spare set of your keys and try to give that same car to someone else, the 1,000 audience members will confirm that Bob owns the car, as each of them witnessed the “transaction.” This is the essence of how the blockchain works.

In its most simple sense, the blockchain is a series of computers (thousands to potentially millions of them) that each keep the same record of an event or transaction in a ledger that is open to the public. Each record is encrypted, and the ledger is virtually hack-proof. Since all these computers see the same thing, they offer consensus that the recorded event or transaction is valid. The most important value of the blockchain is that it allows two or more parties to interact with, say, a financial transaction, with no middleman.

 

Read more from Forbes

 

 

Nine Things To Keep In Mind About Blockchain In Real Estate

Blockchain is the next frontier of the real estate market, making inroads at a fast clip.

The use of the technology will make it possible to have transparent transactions that sellers and buyers will benefit from. From real-time ledgers to full-on shared databases and processes, blockchain throws the doors wide open with possibilities in real estate. However, does it come at a cost?

Some agents think it might, while others are embracing it with abandon. Yet, there is much to learn and consider before adopting blockchain into your business processes.

Nine members of Forbes Real Estate Council share the thing that everyone in their profession needs to know in order to safely and efficiently begin adopting blockchain or the tools it enables.

Read more from Forbes

 

 

Five Workplace Trends The Commercial Real Estate Industry Must Prepare For

The most significant innovations of the last century have a couple of common elements: They solved simple problems in the lives of everyday people, and almost nobody recognized that these problems needed to be solved.

Legend has it that Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Modern transportation, internet you can take with you, the ability to easily connect with someone on the other side of the planet — no one really wanted these things before they were invented. But soon after these innovations became widely available, people could not imagine life without them. Chances are, you never knew you needed a smartphone. But now, imagine giving it up for a day and being without directions in your pocket or the answer to any question at your fingertips. There’s simply no going back.

But despite such large shifts, one daily environment has remained stubbornly unchanged for decades: the office.

Despite a tight labor market putting pressure on employers to attract talent, the vast majority of the corporate workforce still works in dull, cubicle-laden office buildings, designed solely for space efficiency and with no regard for human-centered design. Yet we know environments can have a profound impact on our mental health and work output, and we know that experience matters more and more for the next generation of leaders. The office of today is not very conducive to the innovative thinking needed to create the products of tomorrow.

As the co-founder of a workplace hospitality platform, I’ve consistently heard from the 250,000 people who walk through our doors each year that they want their own offices to look and feel more like the ones shared and alternative workspaces provide on a short-term basis, replete with more flexibility, choice and experience in their office environment.

That means that we need to forget “office” and start thinking in terms of “workplace” — a mindset shift that will help commercial real estate professionals understand the trends that will challenge our industry’s most fundamental assumptions in the coming years.

Read more from Forbes

 

 

Could cryptocurrency be the future of real estate buying?

In August 2014, a secret buyer contacted the realty arm of Martis Camp, a luxury real estate community in North Lake Tahoe in California, with an unorthodox deal: a purchase of land for 2,739 Bitcoins. At the time, the cryptocurrency that recently turned the Brothers Winklevoss into a pair of Bitcoin billionaires was worth about $580 per coin. Multiply that 2,739 times over, and the buyer paid $1.6 million for a 1.4-acre piece of land.

“Many of our buyers are in the tech sector and are early adopters of Bitcoin. We understand the importance of adapting to cutting-edge purchasing methods,” said Martis Camp sales director Brian Hull, who described the buyer only as a “Silicon Valley entrepreneur.”

That Bitcoin-financed real estate transaction was one of the largest, but it was not the first. Five months earlier, in March 2014, another secret buyer purchased a villa in Bali for 800 Bitcoins, or roughly the equivalent of $500,000. Two months later, a suburban home in Kansas City, Missouri, sold for the same amount. Last September, a buyer—identified only as working in the tech industry—bought a single-family home in Austin, Texas.

Most of these transactions involved the buyer converting Bitcoin into U.S. dollars to make the purchase—a liquidation of assets, much in the same way a first-time homebuyer might use investment dollars to afford a down payment.

Then, in late December, what was considered to be the first Bitcoin-only real estate deal went down when Ivan “Paychecks” Pacheco, co-founder of cryptocurrency website Bits to Freedom, transferred 17.741 Bitcoins ($275,000) to a seller to buy a two-bedroom condo in Miami. In early February, Bitcoin investor Michael Komaransky sold his Miami mansion in a deal where the buyer—again, anonymous—paid the $6 million listing price almost entirely in Bitcoins (455, to be exact).

Read the full article from Curbed

WeShop? WeWork preps a retail push

WeWork has built a billion-dollar business by convincing professionals to pay for decked out coworking spaces and a sense of community.

Entrepreneurs Ali Kriegsman and Alana Branston want to do the same for retail.

The pair are cofounders of Bulletin, a young startup that charges female-focused lifestyle brands a monthly membership fee for placement in its retail spaces and on its online marketplace. It raised more than $2 million last year and plans to open a flagship store in New York this spring.

But the founders are acutely aware that a behemoth is waiting in the wings: WeWork.

“In total transparency, we know that they’re going to penetrate retail, but we don’t know exactly what that means,” Kriegsman told CNN. “We’re eager to see.”

Two new job postings seen by CNN suggest Kriegsman is right to assume retail will play a bigger part in WeWork’s growing empire.

WeWork is looking to hire at least two senior employees to spearhead a push deeper into retail and e-commerce, according to the job listings posted to the company’s website this month.

The company is seeking a VP to “launch” a “new retail experience,” with a focus on food and beverages, one job posting says. The role will involve a “first location” in New York with plans to “quickly” open new locations in other markets.

Read more from CNN

6 tech predictions for 2018 and how they’ll impact CRE

Technology is evolving faster than ever before. 

From Bitcoin’s explosive growth to drones buzzing in parks and construction sites across the country, 2017 was a year of rapid tech growth.

There’s reason to believe that growth will accelerate this year, and given how technology is impacting every segment of the industry, CRE professionals would do well to stay on top of unfolding trends—even those not directly related to the industry. From the fate of blockchain to increased job automation, here are six tech predictions for 2018.

Read more from Apto

Strong Economic Indicators Present In All Of San Francisco CRE

San Francisco’s commercial real estate market shows many positive signs for growth in 2018.

Multiple CRE products are going up right now, which is relatively uncommon, according to Vanguard Properties Director of Investment Sales Alex Kolovyansky, who spoke during a recent Bisnow event.

Office, industrial residential and hotel are all experiencing up cycles, Kolovyansky said.

“The San Francisco residential market has been growing by leaps and bounds,” he said.

In 2017, 6,500 transactions were completed in the residential market, of which 35% were for homes and 51% were for condos. A very small percentage of the transactions were for investment properties and 2.3% were for apartment buildings. Kolovyansky said 147 old and new apartments traded last year.

Read more from Bisnow

Grocery-Anchored Shopping Centers Begin to Experience Retail Headwinds

Conventional wisdom posited that grocery-anchored shopping centers would be immune from the Amazon effect. While that might be the case for now, industry insiders say grocers need to adapt—not just in light of a potential threat from e-commerce players, but also because of the increasing number of competitors in the space.

So far, online shopping—while taking a toll on department stores and the brick-and-mortar apparel retailers in particular—has not hit grocery stores as hard. Recent analysis from Morningstar Credit Ratings, which focused on Campbell’s soup, noted that online purchasing of grocery products hasn’t gained a lot of traction: it accounts for “a low-single-digit percentage of total sales.”

Read more from National Real Estate Investor

Trump, Real Estate Investors Get Late-Added Perk in Tax Bill

Lawmakers scrambling to lock up Republican support for the tax reform bill added a complicated provision late in the process — one that would provide a multimillion-dollar windfall to real estate investors such as President Donald Trump.

The change, which would allow real estate businesses to take advantage of a new tax break that’s planned for partnerships, limited liability companies and other so-called “pass-through” businesses, combined elements of House and Senate legislation in a new way. Its beneficiaries are clear, tax experts say, and they include a president who’s said that the tax legislation wouldn’t help him financially.

Read more from Bloomberg