From EB-5 Funding To New CMBS Regulations, Here's 5 Legislative RE Battles You Should Know About
From county all the way up to federal levels, the real estate industry is significantly impacted by the law. From 2016 on, several important legislative changes could overturn long-held CRE practices.
Bisnow broke down five of the most critical legislative changes that could hit real estate, from EB-5 funding and Fannie/Freddie woes, to new CMBS regulations and SEC crowdfunding rules.
EB-5 Financing Stands
The EB-5 program was created in 1990 to spur job creation. Under the program, the government issues special visas to foreigners who invest $500k to $1M in the country and employ 10 or more people here. Real estate projects across the country have relied on EB-5 to finance construction throughout the country, such as Related's Hudson Yards—the largest urban development in the country—and the Miami Worldcenter.
Congress waited until the last minute to extend the program as part of a continuing resolution this month. President Obama signed the bill on Sept. 29, just one day before it was set to expire. While the program is recognized as a great way to stimulate economies, boost job growth and ultimately get large projects off the ground without spending taxpayer dollars, it's also criticized for having too many loopholes that open doors to fraud. Some opponents believe the program poses some homeland security risks by streamlining immigration for wealthy foreigners. Congress will be working to reform the program come Dec. 9.
Freddie & Fannie Out Of Government Control
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have been in a state of legal limbo ever since the government nationalized them during the depths of the financial crisis. The Republican response, the financial CHOICE Act, wants to move the real estate lenders outside of the federal government's conservatorship. It will likely be up to a new Congress to take up the matter, however.
Changes Coming To Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities
Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS) have been the black sheep of real estate finance ever since they were identified as being partly responsible for the credit crisis. New rules—which will be enforced starting Dec. 24—will require issuers to hold 5% of each CMBS deal for five years. Regulators reason that with issuers having "skin in the game," fewer bad deals will be marketed to the public.
SEC Crowdfunding Rules
Crowdfunding has become a key financing source for the real estate industry as traditional funding sources have dried up in the wake of the financial crisis. Congress is looking to foster crowdfunding through measures such as Act III to the JOBS Act. The growth of the sector has some legislators looking to expand the size of loans that can be made under this program.
The Protect Americans From Tax Hikes (PATH) Act was signed into law by President Obama in December 2015. The law, which is meant to streamline tax reporting and filing requirements, is said to make it easier for foreign investors to pour money into US real estate. REITs in particular are a big beneficiary of this legislation, as it eliminates a crucial roadblock in the Foreign Investment In Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA).