What the Biden tax plans mean for the housing market

The American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan impact on the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” — Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Le Roy, 1789.

Thankfully, after more than a year with innumerable challenges, it appears that the pandemic will end. From an economic perspective, the government acted boldly to support households and businesses through the crisis with monetary and fiscal stimulus. Now, just as the recovery has commenced, after a four-year pause we are at the beginnings of another tax debate.

In this column, my aim is to provide you with some of the context for this debate with respect to the state of the U.S. federal budget, particularly on the revenue side, and of overviews of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and President Biden’s tax plans and the two 2021 proposals: The American Jobs Plan and The American Families Plan.

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    10 Strategies for Marketing Your Rental Property

    Owning investment properties can be an awesome way to increase your monthly cash flow and create passive income for your family. Getting the right renters into those properties is critical to your success. To do that, you need to have a solid marketing plan that will grab the attention of the renters that you’re looking for.

    How do you find the right renters at the right time who are willing to pay the right price? We’re glad you asked.

    Marketing your rental property is a combination of building your network, using established real estate platforms, leveraging social media, and asking current tenants for referrals. Here, we give you 10 specific strategies, categorized by type, for marketing your properties.

    Social Media Marketing

    In the realm of social media, there are a variety of things you can do to increase awareness of your properties and your business. Not all social platforms are created equally, so be sure to use the right strategy on the right platform for maximum results.

    Strategy #1: Facebook

    Using Facebook to market your properties is a smart decision because it is one of the most highly utilized social platforms among adults in the United States. It’s simple to setup a business account and you can do a lot with the platform. Once you have your business account setup, you can do a variety of things to boost awareness, engagement, and ultimately your bottom line. Here are some of the things you can do with Facebook:

    • Post your rental property listings with photos, videos, and descriptions of the property and the surrounding area.
    • Create Facebook events such as open houses and invite people to come. When you create an event, be sure to post regularly inside the event to keep people interested until the day it happens.
    • Purchase Facebook ads that specifically target the audience you’re looking for. Different rental properties and communities will attract different types of folks, whether they’re empty-nesters, young families, or singles with no children. The Facebook ads platform can help you target exactly who you’re looking for.

    Strategy #2: Instagram

    Instagram is a highly visual platform and will require excellent photos and videos to truly be effective. If you’re not handy with your smart phone, you should definitely consider hiring a professional to take photos of your rental properties. You should also consider small video vignettes that can connect with potential renters in a more intimate way.

    • Use the “stories” feature on Instagram to draw in people who are scrolling through the platform on a daily basis. Although they disappear after 24 hours, they are a great way to encourage people to follow your page.
    • Be sure to make your contact information easy to find, with a link in your bio that will take the viewer to your website. This is important on Instagram because you can’t post links in your posts until you have 10,000 or more followers.
    • Be consistent with your content. This will help keep you top-of-mind with potential tenants.
    • Use the right hash tags! Instagrammers are notorious for searching certain hashtags in order to find content that they’re interested in. Do a quick Google search about real estate rentals to find out what some of the most searched hashtags are. Use those hashtags in your posts to help get in front of more people.

    Strategy #3: YouTube Videos

    To really have a holistic approach to your real estate business, you’ll want to build a solid foundation of followers on multiple platforms. YouTube is a really popular platform for videos that are longer than 30-40 seconds. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a professional video editor to use this platform. You just need a good content strategy.

    • Create videos that tell viewers about the communities in which you own rental properties. Tell them why these are awesome communities to live in.
    • Talk about the amenities you offer as a landlord and what your specific rental properties have to offer.
    • Give your viewers additional information that is helpful to them. For example, if you want to target new people moving into your market, create content that educates them about their new city. Information about schools, shopping, local events, and more will be interesting to newbies.
    Real Estate Platforms

    You should also consider using the power of established real estate platforms like Realtor.com, Zillow and others. People are already accustomed to using these platforms when looking for a home, so it makes sense to list your properties here, as well. Here are some of the things you can do with these platforms:

    Strategy #4: Realtor.com

    This website is one of the most popular sites in the country for people looking to buy or rent a property. Listing your rental properties on this site will give you access to tons of potential tenants, and it has several tools available to help you.

    • Use the “avail” tool on Realtor.com to help you post to multiple real estate sites at one time. This is a quick, easy way to hit multiple platforms at once, which will expand your audience instantly.
    • Use a calendar feature that will allow potential tenants to schedule a showing right from the app or website. The easier you make it for people to connect with you, the more likely they are to do business with you.

    Strategy #5: Zillow

    If we’re being honest, most real estate platforms are fairly similar. They all offer the ability to post your listing with photos, information, etc. But Zillow has a full suite of rental management tools that you might find interesting. Here are some examples of what they offer:

    • Tenant screening features including online applications, background, and credit checks
    • A lease builder that allows you to build a lease template and have it reviewed by local lawyers who can help you cover all of your assets prior to signing
    • Payment processing features that allow you to collect deposits, rent and other fees from your tenants
    Build Your Website

    All of the different online platforms we’ve talked about so far are extremely important for the success of your rental business. However, as your business grows, you will likely need your own website, or at least a landing page for your tenants and potential tenants to refer to. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be the most tech-savvy website on the planet. It needs to be simple, informative and easy to navigate.

    Strategy #6: Choose the Right Platform

    There are a variety of choices on the market when it comes to building a website. If you’re not a professional web developer, we recommend choosing a web builder that offers a variety of templates and themes that are easy to use. Web builders such as Wix and WordPress tend to be the easiest for a new business to build a nice website with minimal technical skills.

    Look for a platform that is easy to maintain and gives you the option for various plugins. You want your customer journey to be seamless, so make sure your chosen platform can link with your social media, your email provider and any electronic calendars or scheduling features that you plan to use.

    Strategy #7: Provide Plenty of Information

    When building your website, you need to consider what the potential consumer is looking for. Whether they land on your site as a result of a Google search, a social media post, or a real estate platform listing, they are there for a reason. Be sure to offer the following information to make the process as easy as possible for them:

    • Locations, including addresses and maps, of available rentals
    • Transparent pricing information that includes security deposits, monthly rent, pet rent and any other fees associated with each property
    • Contact information so they can reach out to your directly and ask questions or schedule a showing
    • Information about the communities where your rentals are, including schools, shopping, gyms and rec centers, and other things that your specific target audience may be interested in
    • Tons of photos of each property so your potential tenants can see exactly what they’re getting
    General Marketing Tips

    We’ve discussed some pretty specific marketing strategies in this article, but there are others that are applicable in every single case. Here are some other things to consider when marketing your rental property, regardless of which medium you’re using.

    Strategy #8: Write Great Copy

    This may seem like a silly thing to point out, but it’s important that your listings are easy to read and interesting to the potential consumer. You’d be surprised at how much it can impact the success of your listing. You need to have a headline that gives the customer all the information they need and a subsequent description that is interesting and engaging.

    When we talk about headlines, we’re talking about the most important part of the copy. You need to give them as much pertinent information as possible in order to get them to click on the listing and keep reading. We find that a simple formula will help stop your reader and get them to click. Here it is:

    • Price – # of bedrooms – # of bathrooms – type of property – location – unique selling point

    This may seem like a lot of information for a headline, but these are some of the most important pieces of information that your potential renter is looking for. Here’s what it might look like:

    • $1500 3-bed 2-bath house in Dunedin with stunning views

    This gives them all of the major pieces of information that they will use to make their decision, as well as one selling point that will entice them to click on the listing. If you use this formula, you will likely find a higher click through rate than with headlines that don’t offer this much info.

    After the headline, be sure to create copy that is not too wordy, but gives the potential tenant all the information they want to know about the listing. Make it interesting and informative.

    Strategy #9: Do Your Research

    Before implementing any of the strategies we’ve discussed, you need to first do your research on the market. Depending on where your property is located, you may be able to charge more or less than if the property were in a different area of town. Doing a quick analysis of the area will help you determine the following information before creating your listing:

    • The type of renters who will be interested in your property – empty-nesters, young families, singles without children, etc.
    • The amount of rent you can charge for your property, based on comps in the area
    • The features of the community that are interesting to your potential renters such as restaurants, shopping, schools and more

    Strategy #10: Ask for Referrals

    This is a good business practice regardless of what you do for a living. In rental properties specifically, it’s a great idea to ask some of your best tenants for referrals. This works really well if you have multiple properties in the same community or area of town. If you have some great tenants who regularly pay on time, take good care of their rental and enjoy having you as a landlord, they are a great source of referrals for you!

    Final Thoughts

    Implementing one, five or all of these strategies will help you get your rental properties in front of more potential tenants than simply using the local newspaper. The world is becoming increasingly digital and consumers are looking for their next home on the internet. Most of these strategies can be implemented with minimal education about the platforms being used and the algorithms that support them.

    The key to being successful in marketing your properties is figuring out who your target audience is and then marketing to them in a way that is convenient to them. Make sure that your listings are easy to find and that you are easy to contact. Combine all of these efforts together and watch your listings fill, along with your bank account!

    Top 50 Opportunity Zones Ripe for Investors

    According to ATTOM Data Solutions’ newly released Q1 2021 Opportunity Zones Report, median home prices increased from Q1 2020 to Q1 2021 in 75 percent of Opportunity Zones with sufficient data to analyze.

    ATTOM’s quarterly opportunity zones report analyzes qualified low-income Opportunity Zones established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. For the Q1 2021 opportunity zones analysis, ATTOM looked at 4,579 zones around the U.S. with at least five home sales in Q1 2021.

    The Q1 2021 report also found that median home prices rose by at least 10 percent in close to two-thirds of the zones analyzed. The reported noted those percentages roughly tracked trends in areas of the U.S. outside of Opportunity Zones, continuing patterns from Q4 2020.

    Also according to the latest Opportunity Zones analysis, states with the largest percentage of zones where median prices rose annually during Q1 2021 included Arizona (median prices up, year over year, in 84 percent of zones), Idaho (83 percent), Oregon (83 percent), Nevada (82 percent) and Michigan (82 percent).

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      Top 5 Markets for Office Construction Activity

      More than 215 million square feet was under construction across the nation at the end of the first quarter, according to CommercialEdge data.

      More than 25 million square feet of office space came online in the first quarter of 2021, with an additional 215.8 million square feet underway across the entire U.S., according to CommercialEdge data. As of March, development activity in the nation’s tech-driven hubs—Manhattan, Boston and Seattle—accounted for a third of the country’s existing inventory.

      Half of the upcoming projects are expected to come online in 2021. Meanwhile, developers are reaching new milestones on the largest projects underway. Although most developments are scheduled for delivery on time, a slowdown in office construction is expected—a recent American Institute of Architects consensus forecast predicted a 9.3 percent decrease for office construction spending in 2021.

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        Home Equity Continues Growing in U.S. During First Quarter of 2021 as Market Remains Resistant to Pandemic

        IRVINE, Calif. — May 13, 2021 — ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of the nation’s premier property database, today released its first-quarter 2021 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, which shows that 17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value.

        The count of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2021 represented 31.9 percent, or about one in three, of the 55.8 million mortgaged homes in the United States. That was up from 30.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, 28.3 percent in the third quarter and 26.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020 – one of many measures showing how the U.S. housing market continues fending off economic damage caused by the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic.

        The report also shows that just 2.6 million, or one in 21, mortgaged homes in the first quarter of 2021 were considered seriously underwater, with a combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property at least 25 percent more than the property’s estimated market value. That figure represented 4.7 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage, down from 5.4 percent in the prior quarter, 6 percent in the third quarter of 2020 and 6.6 percent a year ago.

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          Sense of Community Key to Lease Renewals

          The pandemic has had little impact on the main reason residents renew their leases, explains columnist Lew Sichelman.

          The pandemic has had little impact on the main reason residents renew their leases. Or, to paraphrase the lyrics in “Once in a Lifetime,” the popular rock ballad most recently covered by David Byrne and Talking Heads, it’s the same as it ever was.

          As it has for eight of the last nine years, sense of community leads the latest list of the top five renewal value factors tracked by SatisFacts.

          The other four main factors have varied widely since SatisFacts started taking the pulse of renters on a yearly basis with Ball State University in 2013. But currently, they are, in descending order, apartment appearance and condition, social media, community events and neighbors.

          Notice that none of the five have anything to do with dollars and cents. Indeed, as far back as the annual survey’s first year, sense of community has led the list. If a resident wants to talk about even a small rent hike, the report said its likely more about an experience-related issues than it is about money.

          For comparison, apartment appearance and condition was number three in 2020, social media was fourth, and neighbors were fifth. Community events was sixth last year.

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            National eviction ban remains in effect as government appeals ruling. Here’s what renters need to know

            The Department of Justice quickly moved to appeal a ruling this week that overturned the nationwide ban on evictions.

            Renters who are financially struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic got some scary news when a federal judge overturned the national eviction moratorium two months earlier than when it was scheduled to expire.

            In a 20-page ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed in 2017 by former President Donald Trump, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t have the authority to stop landlords from evicting their tenants.

            But within hours, the Department of Justice said it would appeal and sought a stay of the decision, meaning the ban would remain in effect throughout the court battle.

            For now, the judge has granted a temporary stay, meaning renters can breathe a small sigh of relief.

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              NMHC Rent Payment Tracker Finds 80.0 Percent of Apartment Households Paid Rent as of May 6

              Washington, D.C. – The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC)’s Rent Payment Tracker found 80.0 percent of apartment households made a full or partial rent payment by May 6 in its survey of 11.7 million units of professionally managed apartment units across the country.

              This is a 0.1 percentage point decrease from the share who paid rent through May 6, 2020 and compares to 81.7 percent that had been paid by May 6, 2019. This data encompasses a wide variety of market-rate rental properties across the United States, which can vary by size, type and average rental price.

              “This month’s findings are part of what seems to be an increasingly clear pattern of economic recovery and strong demand for multifamily housing,” said Doug Bibby, NMHC President. “With more and more vaccines being administered, job creation on the rise and tens of billions in rental assistance being distributed to residents and housing providers in need, the outlook for the industry is a positive one.

              “Federal lawmakers did their jobs when they allocated almost $50 billion in rental assistance, as well as other support for apartment residents. Now, the priority should be for local and state lawmakers to distribute those funds as quickly and efficiently as possible to residents and housing providers who have endured deep financial distress over the course of the pandemic.

              “With rental assistance being disbursed, the economy on the way back and a broad return to normalcy underway across the country, it is past time for the federal eviction moratorium, a policy that was intended to be an emergency effort, to be concluded.”

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                How Will Remote Work Affect Housing After the Pandemic?

                One in four American workers expect that they will continue to have either partial or complete remote-work flexibility after the pandemic, and a majority believe that remote work flexibility will have an impact on their housing preferences and location, according to a report from Apartment List.

                “In a survey of 5,000 employed adults across the U.S., we found that four-in-10 workers expect to have some form of continued remote-work flexibility post-pandemic. Nineteen percent expect to have a hybrid arrangement that allows for remote work multiple days per week, while 21 percent expect that they’ll have the ability to work exclusively remotely,” Apartment List said in the report.

                Apartment List Housing Economist Chris Salviati said, “I would say that this report provides a lot of valuable new data to confirm trends that we’ve been hypothesizing about for a while. Namely, a broad embrace of remote work will be an ongoing long-term trend that will outlast the pandemic, and this newfound geographic flexibility will have a direct impact on where these remote workers choose to live” and housing after the pandemic.

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                  What Does It Take for Multifamily to Go Passive?

                  Here are several considerations that development teams should keep in mind, says Nate Thomas of The Architectural Team Inc.

                  As leaders in the multifamily sector seek to cut carbon emissions and meet ever-more-stringent energy codes, the highly efficient standard known as Passive House has gained new ground.

                  With diverse benefits ranging from lower ongoing operating costs to greatly enhanced occupant comfort, the pursuit of the Passive House standard is indeed a tantalizing prospect. And yet, when it comes time to plan the next big project, many development teams find themselves facing more questions than answers.

                  For those considering a Passive House multifamily project, how does this innovative approach, better known for its use in high-end, single-family homes, really impact the planning, design, and construction process for large-scale properties serving dozens or even hundreds of residents?

                  Here are several considerations that any development team should keep in mind when contemplating this path.


                  A Passive House building’s high performance depends on its exacting tolerances—a tight envelope with continuous insulation and high-performing openings, efficient appliances and fixtures, and often, some level of on-site power generation such as a photovoltaic array.

                  With relatively compact layouts and a high occupant density, apartment and condominium buildings are well suited to the Passive House approach—especially the midrise wood-frame structures that predominate nationwide and have an inherent ability to mitigate thermal bridging issues.

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