April 23, 2020| Lester Yat
There’s something exhilarating — and yet, intimidating — about hanging a new calendar on the wall. A flip of the page, and a new year appears, holding both promise and a twinge of uncertainty.
The emotions settle in not just in personal lives, but in the psyche of the multi-family housing community as well. Where’s the housing market headed? What new statutes, rules and regulations will affect the condominiums and rental properties? Which technologies will imbed themselves in the industry’ life, and which will fall by the wayside?
Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball with which to peer into the future. But as 2016 faded and 2017 crept its way in, professionals from across the spectrum have offered prognostications — tempered, of course, by the uncertainty brought into play by the installation in January of a new and radically different US administration.
Here are a few items to keep an eye on as the year unfolds:
The Market: Economists and individuals alike are watching the stock market, which enjoyed a post-election bump. Whether that will continue, and whether the lift will spill into the housing market is yet to be seen, but many industry professionals, including Realtors, anticipate increased demand and rising values. Buyer interest is growing, particularly in urban properties, as millennials look to move into homes of their own.
Construction activity, mortgage interest rates, education reform and other factors that can be affected by federal policies may play a role in the housing market as a new regime settles into place.
Managers have also noted that the change in administration may lead to “a new perspective” on homeowner association issues such as foreclosures. For years, banks have been slow to sell foreclosed properties; changes in the market and potential de-regulation of the banking industry could impact the housing market.
Regulations: The National Apartment Association and National Multi Housing Council (NAA/NMHC), along with nearly 380 other trade associations and business groups, have urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to make consideration of the “Regulatory Accountability Act” an early priority in 2017 for the new Congress.
The legislation, the NAA/NMHC says, would “improve the transparency of executive branch regulations by requiring federal agencies to invest more effort earlier in the rulemaking process,” such as gathering data and weighing costs and benefits of their rules.
On a state — and even local — property managers and attorneys are closely watching regulatory action related to short-term rental systems like Airbnb. In condominium communities, especially, this popular technology-driven movement is pitting the interests of owners looking to make some extra money against neighbors concerned about their quality of life, property values and community rules.
Across the nation, several states last year changed laws related to marijuana use — although federal laws have not changed. Communities, managers and attorneys are now grappling with the impact of those state laws, and it’s likely that the courts will eventually play a role in issues like this.
Technology: Energy policies are another area that could take a turn with the change in administration and continuing product development. Again federal, state and local regulations may come into play on the issue of green technology — whether in terms of LED lighting, recycling, electric vehicle charging or the use of drones around community property.
It’s a new year — and a new era in Washington DC and across the country. Homeowners, board members and managers will have a lot to watch — and react to — as the months unfold.