SHCM Blended Learning Course Starts Next Thursday, Oct. 4

Please be sure to share information about the upcoming SHCM Blended Learning Course with your fellow affordable housing management professionals. They too can demonstrate that they have mastered the complex requirements of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and take advantage of this convenient and affordable way to prepare to earn the Specialist in Housing Credit Management (SHCM) Certification.

Series Description: Prepare to earn the Specialist in Housing Credit Management (SHCM) Certification entirely online. The Blended Learning Course webinar content is based on the National Affordable Housing Management Association's (NAHMA) "Practical Guide to Tax Credit Housing Management" workbook. Attendees will receive course materials in .pdf format.

When: The Blended Learning Course is a webinar series that will begin on Thursday, October 4, 2012. All of the course' webinars will be held from noon to 3 p.m. ET, and includes time for Q&A.

October 4, 2012
Chapter 1: Program Regulations with Instructor Anita Moseman

October 11, 2012
Chapter 2: Applicant Eligibility with Instructor Greg Proctor

October 18, 2012
Chapter 3: Unit Eligibility with Instructor Sue Streck

October 25, 2012
Chapter 4: Monitoring and Compliance with Instructor Karen Newsome

Cost: $599 for the full course ($549 for NAAEI Designates) and $99 per module. The course fee now includes the cost of the SHCM Certification Application.

To Register, click on the link below.


Association News
Online Property Management Degree And Certificate Programs Are Available Through Drexel University
Affordable Housing Education Session Recordings Now Available
Help Promote Careers in Property Management
NAHMA Offers Green Housing Management Publication

Industry News
"A Search for Balance"
"Most LIHTC Properties Stay Affordable, But Concerns Remain"
"It's Greener to Retrofit Than Build New, Report Finds"
"High Development Costs Under Scrutiny"
"Seniors Tsunami"
"New Project-Based Subsidy to Preserve Affordable Rental Housing"
"Third Circuit Court of Appeals Strikes Down Tax Credit Transaction, Reverses Tax Court; Case Overview"
"Frontlines: Loan Star"
"Beyond Year 10"
"How to Save Your Property's 9 Percent Rate (Even With 2014 Credits)"
"O&M the Key to Keeping Green Buildings Optimized"
"Recession-Ready Green Building"
"California Struggles with $1.7 Billion Loss in Redevelopment Funding"
"Apartment Boom Has Room to Run, UCLA Report Says"
"Apartment Firms Staff Up to Meet New Rental Demand, Survey Says"
"Commercial Renewable Energy Loans Take Off as Residential Program Stalls"
"LEED and Beyond"
"Policy Center Proposes Renters' Tax Credit"
"Rent Spikes Begin to Ease"

Association News

Online Property Management Degree And Certificate Programs Are Available Through Drexel University

If you have considered obtaining a B.S. in Property Management while continuing to work full time, now is the time to take action! NAAEI and Drexel University have partnered to offer SHCM designates and their immediate families a tuition discount of 10% off or more on all Drexel online programs.

Drexel accepts most associate degrees, so this is an excellent option for those who have taken some college coursework but have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree. Obtaining your associate’s degree first is also a great way to minimize the cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

For those who do not have the time or money to pursue an online degree program but who may want to consider one later down the road, Drexel offers the Fundamentals of Property Management online certificate program. This program can be taken as a standalone certificate and can be applied towards a bachelor’s degree.

Have you already obtained your bachelor’s degree? Drexel’s M.S. in Property Management is available completely online to better suit the needs of working professionals. To learn more about all of Drexel’s online programs that offer SHCM designates and their immediate family a discount, click on the link below.
Affordable Housing Education Session Recordings Now Available

If you did not attend the NAA Education Conference and Expo, you don’t have to miss the excellent education sessions that were presented in Boston.

You can now purchase 20 video recorded and 17 PowerPoint-synced audio sessions and view them online for only $199.99, a $100 savings for SHCM designates only. Please enter the coupon code NAAEI199 at checkout to receive your SHCM discount.

If you’d like to purchase all four Affordable Housing sessions presented by NAHMA, they can be purchased for $89.99. Or, you can purchase each of the following sessions for $29.99.

3H - NAHMA Presents: Top Tips for Capital Planning in Multifamily Affordable Housing
Presenter: Michael Ferguson, Peabody Properties; Craig Torres, On-Site Insight; Thomas Nutt-Powell, Capital Needs Unlimited; Moderated by Michelle Kitchen, NAHMA

1H - NAHMA Presents: Tried-and-True Tools for Preserving Aging or Rescuing Troubled Affordable Housing
Presenter: Charles Durnin, SHCM, Interstate Realty Management; Michelle Norris, SHCM, NAHP-e, National Church Residences; Lawrence Curtis, Winn Development, Michael Simmons, CPM, NAHP-e, Community Realty Management; Moderator: Kris Cook, CAE NAHMA

2H - NAHMA Presents: Parallels and Convergences in Multifamily Affordable Housing in the U.S. and Abroad
Presenter: David Smith, ReCap Real Estate Advisors; Moderated by Kris Cook, CAE, NAHMA

4H - NAHMA Presents: Unique Challenges in Managing Affordable Housing – From Eradicating Bed Bugs to Replenishing Replacement Reserves
Presenter: George Caruso, SHCM, NAHP-e, Edgewood Management Corp; Steve Henderson, NAHP-e, Wedge Management Inc.; Gianna Solari, SHCM, NAHP-e, Solari Enterprises; Timothy Zaleski, SHCM, NAHP-e, McCormack Baron Ragan Management Services; Moderated by Michelle Kitchen, NAHMA

To order, click on the link below.
Help Promote Careers in Property Management

How did you find your career in property management? Help make it easier for others to find the 2nd Happiest Job in America (click on link below for details on this study)! Apartment community staff, apartment management companies and hiring personnel are all encouraged to create awareness about careers in the apartment industry.

• Speak to DECA students at your local high school and college about careers in apartment leasing and management
• Participate in Career Fairs at community and technical colleges to promote leasing and maintenance career paths
• Have February 2013 declared National Apartment Careers Month by your mayor and/or governor

Go to this link: to access all the tools you need to be successful! NAAEI also offers free DVDs and career brochures. Don’t know where to start? Please contact:
NAHMA Offers Green Housing Management Publication

A new publication, Green Housing: A Practical Guide to Green Real Estate Management, is now available from the National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA). The 82-page spiral-bound book is an informative yet easy-to-read primer on green real estate management, and covers all of the basic concepts, such as energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, resource efficiency, site sustainability, water efficiency, integrated pest management, tenant green education, and creating a green operation and maintenance plan.

According to a recent report by the U.S. General Services Administration, green buildings have 13% lower maintenance costs and consume 26% less energy. Though there is a common perception that “going green” can be cost-prohibitive, property management professionals and building owners and developers are discovering that greening their properties is not only cost-effective but can be truly profitable. Green Housing, by real estate professional and certified green-building expert Barry P. Weaver, is a timely manual for those who have the desire but not a great deal of capital to accomplish green upgrades.

The book may be purchased for $35 per copy, plus $5 shipping and handling, via NAHMA’s webstore via the link below.

Industry News

A Search for Balance
Affordable Housing Finance (09/12) Kimura, Donna

A key issue in the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) market is the need to balance good prices for developers with strong yields for investors. This is particularly needed to satisfy the yield anticipation of investors in non-Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) areas, according to a July survey of syndicators. Price declines for developers may subsequently emerge across multiple regions over the next several months. "The divide between CRA and non-CRA is widening," says Tony Bertoldi, senior vice president of syndication and investor relations at City Real Estate Advisors, Inc. "I would expect price per credit on CRA deals in certain markets to stay the same or increase." The Affordable Housing Finance poll of 22 national and regional syndicators found that the average price paid per dollar of tax credit in the second quarter was $0.89, up from $0.87 at the end of 2011. Yields to investors averaged 6.5 percent in the second quarter, slightly below the 6.7 percent reported for the fourth quarter in the previous year. Eleven of the syndicators surveyed anticipate that prices will decline in the next several months, while five others expect prices to stay about the same or even increase slightly. "There seems to be a clear and absolute floor of 6 percent [yields] for national multi-investor LIHTC funds," observes Ryan Sfreddo, managing director at Red Stone Equity Partners, adding that "the buy side and the sell side seem to be a bit out of sync, and it’s creating a dangerous dynamic for developers." In contrast, Sfreddo says in urban CRA markets, prices continue to spiral while yields continue to plummet.

Most LIHTC Properties Stay Affordable, But Concerns Remain
Apartment Finance Today (09/12)

Most low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) properties will remain affordable in the near future even though thousands of properties are becoming eligible to opt out of the program, says a new report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and prepared by Abt Associates. Some 11,543 properties with 411,412 units were placed in service between 1987 and 1994, and 20,567 properties with 1.5 million units were added between 1995 and 2009, according to "What Happens to Low Income Housing Tax Credit Properties at Year 15 and Beyond?" The report's authors expect some of the properties will maintain their physical quality through cash flow and periodic financing, and many will maintain their physical quality by being recapitalized with a new allocation of tax credits or another source of public subsidy. Others will deteriorate, which will affect their marketability and financial health. "We suggest that HFAs [housing finance agencies] place the highest priority on the developments that are most likely to be repositioned in the markets—as higher rent housing or conversion to homeownership or another use," says the report. "HFAs could benefit from additional data and tools from HUD to help identify the most appropriate properties."

It's Greener to Retrofit Than Build New, Report Finds
National Real Estate Investor (08/13/12) Hughes, Jennifer V.

Green renovations to older buildings have more environmental benefits than building new green buildings, according to "The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse," a new National Trust for Historic Preservation report. "The thought was that in order to build green you had to build new," says U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) chair Elisabeth Heider. "But the numbers don't add up that way." In the United States, LEED EB, certification for existing buildings, outpaced LEED NC, certification for new buildings, by 25.3 million square feet this year. Using statistics from the USGBC, the study found that it takes 10 to 80 years to offset the negative impacts on climate change caused by building a new energy-efficient building. However, an older building retrofitted to perform at the same energy efficiency level represents environmental savings of 4 percent to 46 percent. The negative environmental impact on human health was 12 percent to 38 percent less for retrofits than new construction in the four cities studied. In another study, retrofits also showed a 19.2 percent increase in return on investment, compared to 9.9 percent ROI for new construction. In some cases, the study found demolition and new construction had fewer environmental impacts than retrofits, such as converting a warehouse to a multifamily dwelling or creating a high rise in place of smaller buildings with good access to public transportation. "If you can increase the density, then it makes sense because you have that access to public transportation and take that transit impact into consideration," Heider says. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is preparing a follow-up report to help identify buildings that are good candidates for retrofitting.

High Development Costs Under Scrutiny
Housing Finance (08/22/12)

The amount being spent on low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) and other affordable housing properties is soaring, garnering criticism from politicians and the public. David Smith, chairman of Recap Real Estate Advisors, notes that when a foreclosed home in California sells for $175,000 and new affordable housing costs $450,000, it can be difficult to understand the reasoning. Many people say the foreclosed homes should be rented to lower-income people rather than building expensive new homes, he adds, but those homes may not be located near jobs or are otherwise unsuitable. A group of state agencies in California is commissioning a study to determine what is pushing affordable housing costs so high, and Maine’s top housing official recently resigned over harsh criticism on the issue. The Elm Terrace project in Portland, Maine, is one of the more controversial examples of the rising costs; the low-income apartments in the $10.1 million development cost $314,000, while the median single-family home in Portland costs just $159,000. State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin criticized the project as an example of excessive government spending, saying citizens of Maine should not “be asked to subsidize housing which they themselves cannot afford to live in.” For their part, developers note that the project is a historic rehabilitation of a former hospital, which is more expensive than building new, that it is located in the most expensive area in the state, and that the costs were comparable to similar developments so should not be compared to the median home price for the entire state. Smith also notes that housing financed with government funds is often subject to mandates for sustainability or accessibility, which pushes up costs by as much as 64 percent compared to other housing.

Seniors Tsunami
Housing Finance (09/01/12) Serlink Christine; Kimura, Donna

The population of Americans aged 85 and older will more than triple by 2050 to 19 million, according to the Center for Housing Policy, and some experts are questioning whether the nation’s housing industry is prepared to handle this shift. The Retirement Housing Foundation last year announced the availability of a waiting list for an apartment in a senior affordable housing community, and there was a line of about 4,000 people waiting to apply. Things will only get worse as the population ages, experts say. National Church Residences CEO Tom Slemmer says the affordable housing industry “is going to be in great stress” due to the industry’s budget problems and declines in housing stock. A big part of the problem is cuts to the Sec. 202 program, he says, as the funding for the program has declined over the years to zero in the 2012 budget. A bill in Congress appropriates $50 million for 2013, but its future is uncertain. “We’re losing affordable seniors housing faster than we’re able to build,” he says. “As we show cost effectiveness more clearly, we’re hoping to shift opinions so affordable housing will be seen as a worthy expenditure by the government.” Meanwhile developers of housing for seniors are increasingly focused on adding services that monitor seniors' needs and keep them healthy longer, which can reduce healthcare costs. LeadingAge, Enterprise Community Partners, and Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future are launching a national learning collaborative on the issue of housing with such services, and they will select about 10 housing organizations to work with on developing seniors services and studying whether this model would be a better alternative to institutional care.

New Project-Based Subsidy to Preserve Affordable Rental Housing
Affordable Housing Finance (09/12) Wallace, Stephen J.

On July 26, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a Federal Register notice announcing the implementation of the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program as well as eligibility and selection criteria for RAD. RAD facilitates the preservation of public housing and properties with Sec. 8 Mod-Rehab contracts, Rental Assistance Program (RAP) subsidies, and Rent Supplement subsidies. The provisions implementing the conversion of RAP and Rent Supplement to project-based vouchers are effective immediately. Under RAD, public housing authorities may apply to HUD to convert their existing public housing assistance to a new project-based rental assistance (PBRA) contract or a project-based voucher contract. Sec. 8 Mod-Rehab project owners may apply to convert their Mod-Rehab contracts to either PBRA or project-based voucher contracts. Alternatively, owners of Mod-Rehab properties may apply to convert tenant protection vouchers provided upon the termination of the Mod-Rehab contract to project-based vouchers. The owners terminating a Mod-Rehab contract must provide a one-year opt-out notice. However, the project can convert to project-based vouchers prior to the expiration of the one-year notice period. The owner’s submission must delineate a financing and capital improvements plan that uses such private resources as tax-exempt bonds and housing tax credits in conjunction with the new project-based assistance.

Third Circuit Court of Appeals Strikes Down Tax Credit Transaction, Reverses Tax Court; Case Overview
Mondaq Business Briefing (09/11/2012)

The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decision in Historic Boardwalk Hall v. Commissioner, No. 11-1832, in late August could have far reaching implications for developers, sponsors and investors involved in transactions that use tax credits, including historic rehabilitation tax credits (HRTCs), low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs), new markets tax credits and renewable energy tax credits. The Third Circuit essentially disallowed a historic rehabilitation tax credit transaction in deciding the case solely on the issue of whether Pitney Bowes was a "true" partner in a public private partnership involving a project renovating the historic Atlantic City convention center. Reversing the US Tax Court, the Third Circuit ruled that it was not a bona fide partner because it had "no meaningful stake" in the success or failure in the partnership's enterprise, based on the contractual arrangements with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. The decision could impact the availability of financing for projects generating tax credits and calls into question certain structures and features frequently used in transactions involving HRTCs, LIHTCs, new markets tax credits, renewable energy tax credits and other tax incentives. The court did not dwell on the policy implications but was "mindful of Congress's goal of encouraging rehabilitation of historic buildings" and confirmed it was not attacking the "tax credit provision itself." Instead, the court noted it was only addressing the "prohibited sale of tax credits" challenged by the IRS. Moreover, the audit risk for existing transactions could increase as a result of the decision.

Frontlines: Loan Star
Apartment Finance Today (08/12) Mearns, Derek

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was once regarded as an undesirable lender, but amid the current downturn is sought after for construction funds. Since 2008, the volume of business and production the FHA managed increased by $10 billion, says FHA's multifamily chief, Marie Head. In addition, loan-processing times at the FHA have fallen by as much as 75 percent for some types of loans in the past year. The FHA hopes to raise mortgage insurance premiums in 2013, from 45 basis points (bps) to 65 bps for new-construction and substantial-rehab deals. Head says because of new initiatives now in place at the FHA, the majority of loans in its pipeline are now less than 90 days old. She anticipates achieving the same multifamily volume compared with a year ago largely due to some of the loans from 2011 currently getting through. The FHA has suggested a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) increase to ensure the department is managing its present risk profile appropriately and not underpricing its product in the marketplace, according to Head. "This is truly a balancing act, and that's our No. 1 priority, making sure we're managing the risk with the new types of larger loans we're doing. And we're forward-thinking in that arena, rather than relying on historical data in a budgeting model that didn't have the new parameters in it," Head says.

Beyond Year 10
Affordable Housing Finance (09/12) Anderson, Bendix

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are battling to preserve affordable housing with loan deals to acquire or rehabilitate existing assets. The recipients of the preservation loans have been largely low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) properties passing their 11th year of operation. Fannie Mae lenders closed $2.3 billion in affordable housing deals in 2011, and driven by the preservation market, the company expects to do more business this year. Although Freddie Mac did not release current lending volume numbers, executives say they are catching up to Fannie Mae in the refinancing business. Demand for year 11 financing should remain strong because of the continued impact of changes to the program. The bonding requirement has been eased, and many investors are selling their stakes in the properties after they have collected the full value of the property's tax credits after year 10. Meanwhile, the companies face some private competition. The tax-exempt bond business is beginning to see a revival thanks to a healthier private-placement market, says Michael Moses, chief investment officer for The NRP Group.

How to Save Your Property's 9 Percent Rate (Even With 2014 Credits)
Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits (09/12) Vol. 3, No. 9, Graff, Glenn A.

Buildings using low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) must be placed in service before Dec. 31, 2013, to preserve the 9 percent applicable rate or allow a project to utilize all of its LIHTCs. Amid the financial meltdown in 2008, Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), which established that for new construction or rehabilitated buildings financed without tax-exempt bonds that are placed in service after July 30, 2008, and before Dec. 31, 2013, the applicable percentage will be no less than 9 percent. The creation of the 9 percent floor had an immediate helpful impact on the financing of LIHTCs buildings, considering it was 13.5 percent higher than the July 2008 applicable percentage of 7.93 percent, and in August, the 9 percent rate was 22 percent higher than the August 2012 floating rate, enabling projects to qualify for 22 percent more LIHTC and equity. Placement of service has become a critical issue for many LIHTCs, and the obvious strategy for preserving the 9 percent floor for allocations in 2013 or earlier is to finish construction and lease the entire building. Other strategies include getting a certificate of occupancy on one unit, but finishing construction and leasing-up in 2014; considering the placement-in-service flexibility for rehabilitated buildings; and maximizing LIHTCs for multiple building projects. Also, for some projects that receive a binding commitment for 2014 LIHTCs before the end of 2013, Section 42(h)(1)(C) provides an exception that says a building placed in service in 2013 would still be eligible for 2014 LIHTC and would qualify for the 9 percent floor.

O&M the Key to Keeping Green Buildings Optimized
Heating - Piping - Air Conditioning Engineering (08/12) Workman, James

After a building has been optimized for performance, it is essential for building owners to conduct operations and maintenance (O&M) appropriately. The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a useful tool for examining a building's energy consumption in the form of British thermal units per square foot per year. This tool can then be used to determine a building's energy-use baseline, compare the building to similar buildings, and develop an energy initiative. If the energy consumption of a building is comparatively low based on its mechanical type, the focus should be on basic preventive-maintenance tasks. But if energy consumption is high, other areas will need to be addressed. Another important O&M area is the building-automation system (BAS), which enables the monitoring of key building trends. The BAS may show that in 50 rooms, the temperature falls at a rate of 1 degree Fahrenheit every 8 hours, while other rooms are warming in the morning at a rate of 1 degree Fahrenheit per hour. The cause might be due to a problem with the building envelope or an equipment issue, like incorrect coil sizing, a dirty coil, or an airflow problem. To ensure that the BAS provides accurate data, the system's sensors should be calibrated regularly, and the building should undergo sequences of operation from time to time. Buildings that lack individual gas and electric meters should be outfitted with submeters, which are necessary if the owner wants to obtain ENERGY STAR certification in the future. Connecting submeters to a BAS allows building owners to monitor building load, and the system can issue alerts of changes from optimal performance.

Recession-Ready Green Building
Multifamily Executive (08/12) Capps, Kriston

A recent New York state law allows municipalities to bypass collecting property taxes in order to promote sustainable building. The law does not provide direct property tax exemptions, but rather lets municipalities adopt a property-tax abatement program for green projects. Graduated property-tax exemption is provided for certified projects for a certain number of years, based on the level of certification reached. For instance, a LEED-certified or LEED Silver–certified building started after Jan. 1, 2013, would be 100-percent exempt from property taxes for three years. In its fourth year and every year after, the exemption would fall 20 percent, eventually reaching zero-percent exemption once again. Projects certified LEED Platinum start with six years of total property tax exemption. A plan to take advantage of the new law is now being developed for the Town of East Hampton on Long Island, says Frank Dalene, chair of the East End Committee for the Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Vince Copogna, executive director for USGBC's Long Island Chapter, says the law might help encourage new construction and may expand to other municipalities across the state where property taxes tend to be high.

California Struggles with $1.7 Billion Loss in Redevelopment Funding
Multi-Housing News (08/12) Russo, Michael

The California legislature's decision last year to do away with over 400 redevelopment agencies in the state removed about $1.7 billion in funding for several hundred affordable housing projects that relied on those agencies for subsidies. The cut came not out of malice towards affordable housing, but rather out of necessity when the state was looking to ease budget problems by axing certain public services, like education, said William Witte, president of RELATED California, a real estate firm in the state. This cut comes in the midst of a population boom within the state, with the number of California residents increasing about 400,000 per year, the majority of them minorities and immigrants who typically express a need for affordable housing. In much of California, demand for affordable housing exceeds supply. A recently constructed 60-unit senior housing project designed by Withee Malcolm Architects saw over 1,000 people on a waiting list to acquire living space. California ranks among the highest in the nation in terms of poverty rates, meaning the need for affordable housing is constant.

Apartment Boom Has Room to Run, UCLA Report Says
Los Angeles Times (08/19/12) Vincent, Roger

A UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate report shows that the nation's boom in apartment building has at least two more years to go, before higher rents will drive consumers back into homeownership. By 2014, the report forecasts that supply will begin to outpace demand, though investors continue to perceive apartments as safe, lucrative investments. The 10-year Treasury bond yields remain below 2 percent, and investors are looking for higher yields. Higher rents signal the potential for higher future income and capital appreciation.

"The American Dream of homeownership may be comatose, but it is not dead," said UCLA economist David Schulman, "and the wake-up call will come in the form of higher rents."

Apartment Firms Staff Up to Meet New Rental Demand, Survey Says
RealEstateRama (08/17/2012)

According to the National Multi Housing Council's 2012 Apartment Compensation Survey, the growing demand for apartments has caused an uptick in staff hiring among multifamily companies, with 65 percent increasing staff levels in 2011 and 62 percent increasing their merit bonus pools. About 77 percent of firms saw their financial performance improve last year, and 78 percent expect 2012 to show improvements as well. About 69 percent expect 2013 merit budgets to grow. The survey indicates that apartment firms adding staff increased their total number of workers by an average of 11 percent, with high demand noted for maintenance, leasing, and property management positions. These same positions also were most likely to see salaries rise about 3 percent, with 81 percent of apartment firms increasing total compensation budgets. Meanwhile, staff turnover rates held steady at 30 percent, and the number of benefits offered by firms increased to include wellness programs, telecommuting, and flexible hours. More than 60 percent offer education assistance, and 74 percent offer housing discounts to onsite property management and maintenance staff.

Commercial Renewable Energy Loans Take Off as Residential Program Stalls (09/19/12) Clarke, Chris

The CaliforniaFIRST program, launched earlier this week by 126 cities and 14 counties statewide, enables commercial real estate owners to finance energy retrofits and repay the loan through property tax bills. To qualify for Property Assisted Clean Energy (PACE) loans under the initiative, properties must be industrial or agricultural in nature or residential properties containing six or more units. CaliforniaFIRST is being administered by Renewable Funding.

LEED and Beyond
Multi-Housing News (08/12) Murray, Barbra

As municipalities increase green-related requirements and multifamily properties strive to meet consumer demand for green features, a number of property rating systems have emerged to foster the reduction of emissions and energy consumption and increase water conservation. The National Green Building Standard (NGBS) (ICC 700) is the only rating system to obtain the American National Standards Institute's endorsement. Developed in conjunction with the National Multi Housing Council, projects must meet certain thresholds for resource, energy, and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and maintenance and operations standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program not only applies to appliances but also to properties with energy performance superior to at least 75 percent of similar buildings across the nation, which means they cost less to operate and emit fewer gas emissions. The program covers 4.4 million square feet of senior-living facilities and 103 student housing properties. The U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, which is considered the most recognizable, has certified 13,823 units in 760 multifamily buildings to date and certifies about 1.6 million square feet of new and existing commercial and residential properties daily. Other ratings systems include the Green Building Initiative's Green Globes system, the Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities' certification, and a number of local systems like the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's latest State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

Policy Center Proposes Renters' Tax Credit
Affordable Housing Finance (08/12) Kimura, Donna

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has issued a report proposing a renters' tax credit to not only help low-income families afford housing but also to balance federal housing policies. The center notes that currently 75 percent of federal housing expenditures are related to homeownership, and most benefit the top 20 percent of households by income. The center calls for a renters' tax credit capped at $5 billion, which would cost less than 5 percent of total federal homeownership tax expenditures and help around 1.2 million renter households with the lowest incomes by lowering their rent by $400 on average. Similar to the low-income housing tax credit program, the tax credit would be administered by states, each given a fixed dollar amount of credits, and involve public-private partnerships with property owners and banks, with property owners either claiming a federal tax credit based on the amount of the rent reduction or passing the credit to their lender in exchange for lower mortgage payments.

Rent Spikes Begin to Ease (09/05/12) Olick, Diana

The combination of rising house prices and easing rent growth has caused some to question whether the multifamily industry can keep up the torrid pace seen over the past several years. Rents are still rising -- nationwide, they are up 4.7 percent from September 2011, according to -- but is slightly less than the 5.8 percent from this past May. Trulia Economist Jed Kolko notes that rents are still up 10 percent year over year in cities such as Houston, Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco, even as new construction that began last year is starting to come onto the market. Multifamily housing developers do not seem concerned, with many saying that an improving housing market can peacefully co-exist with a hearty rental market for some time, as long as rents do not become completely outrageous. Much of the growth in the housing market has been due to investors, not everyday homebuyers, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, which on Sept. 5 noted a weekly drop in mortgage applications for the fifth consecutive week. New findings from show some of the reasons potential buyers are postponing buying a house: 47 percent are saving up for a down payment, 11 percent are waiting for the real estate market to stabilize, 22 percent are waiting for their credit score to improve before taking out a loan, and 20 percent are waiting to feel more stable in their employment status.

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October 2012
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