This year's Democratic National Convention has been highly unusual. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the convention to go virtual. The convention was originally set to take place in Milwaukee and was expected to have a huge impact on rental properties. Many Airbnb hosts in the area were planning for a heavy influx of bookings from delegates and other convention attendees. The convention was anticipated to bring $200 million to the city, and many rental property owners were planning for a very busy summer. One local real estate agent even bought a house specifically to rent out during the event.
The televised program has featured many taped performances, celebrity hosts, and a remote roll call. But one thing has remained the same, speeches. The overall real estate market has been touched on mostly in the sense of housing and opportunities for all Americans.
The impact of foreclosures in the spotlight
During Wednesday's programming, the convention featured the story of the Sanchez family from Charlotte, North Carolina. When the convention was in Charlotte in 2012, the family protested in front of Bank of America's headquarters to raise awareness about the foreclosure crisis. Gonzalo and Silvia Sanchez were facing foreclosure after Gonzalo lost his job and they could no longer pay their mortgage. Their daughter has spina bifida and the family was having difficulty paying medical bills. The family spoke both about immigration (Silivia is undocumented and their daughter, Jessica, is a Dreamer) as well as the need for affordable housing as a basic human right.
Featuring the Sanchez family could be seen as a response to President Trump's recent tweets about low-income housing. On July 29, the President tweeted: "I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood…" This was after the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it planned to terminate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation.
Plans to avert a coming crisis
Housing has been a core issue for Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris. While she didn't mention housing specifically during her acceptance speech, she did reference opportunities for all families. Her plans include using federal funds to boost the construction of affordable housing and to boost city and state programs.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden has said he'll create a plan for affordable housing that includes spending $640 billion over 10 years. His plan involves a few key features, including down payment assistance programs, tax credits, and the implementation of a renters and homeowners bill of rights. He has also said he'll focus on legal representation for renters who are facing eviction and focus on eviction diversion programs.
In announcing his plan to build a $775 million caregiving and education support system, Biden has previously stated that he'll roll back tax breaks for real estate investors with incomes over $400,000. A report from Bloomberg previously indicated that members of the Biden team have said he'll focus on 1031 exchanges, something of concern for many real estate investors who rely on like-kind exchanges to build their portfolios.
What lies ahead
Next week, the Republicans take the stage. Their convention will likely follow a similar course with a mostly virtual event featuring plenty of elected officials sharing their plans for the future and discussing past accomplishments.
Over the next several months, housing and real estate issues are likely to be mentioned by both parties during the upcoming debates. Issues like evictions, the need for affordable housing, preventing housing discrimination, keeping foreclosures low, and creating more paths to homeownership will be addressed. Commercial real estate has mostly stayed out of the spotlight so far, although we may see candidates talk about the toll of the pandemic on both large and small businesses and about potential legislation such as the HOPE Act. We'll be keeping an eye on how each party's plans for the next four years could impact real estate investors.