Reigniting America’s real estate and housing markets through reform

This op-ed originally appeared in The Hill.

Today, the real estate industry finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) are leading the charge for tax and housing reform. On the other, we in real estate are wary of policy changes and the potential impacts on the recovering real estate market. But there may be a way forward. In January 2013, Smart Growth America (the parent organization of LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors) released a study that surveyed 50 federal programs and found that between tax breaks, grants, loan guarantees and other programs the federal government spends or commits approximately $450 billion each year directly to the real estate market. The study found that much of that spending is uncoordinated and out of step with today’s market realities and demographic shifts.

As leaders in the real estate development community, we understand the positive impact federal involvement can have on the real estate market, and support a continued federal role in the sector. However, we also recognize the economy and real estate market have structurally changed, and policies and programs that spurred prosperity in previous generations can actually impede it today. We must ensure that every dollar invested in real estate is going to help the economic recovery – and that is why, we, LOCUS, a national coalition of real estate developers and investors in partnership with Smart Growth America developed a series of recommendations in a recent report, Federal Involvement in Real Estate: A Call for Action, proposing common sense reforms to existing programs.