Policymakers and Roundtable Members Discuss Domestic and Global Issues Impacting CRE
This week’s Real Estate Roundtable Fall Meeting focused on financing and liquidity issues; housing shortages and the damaging impact that widespread remote work has on cities, small businesses and real estate markets. Additionally, mitigating policy initiatives were discussed, including: additional regulatory action on maturing loans; legislation to facilitate greater building conversions to housing; and technical tax proposal to address cancelled debt, extend opportunity zones and other matters. Regulations implementing last year’s “climate” related laws were also a topic. Photo: Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman & CEO, Suffolk)
Overcoming the ongoing impasse regarding the election of a new Speaker of the House of Representatives was frequently cited as crucial to advancing any legislation, including funding the government and providing assistance to Israel and Ukraine. (The Roundtable’s Oct. 13 Statement on the recent violence in Israel and its Fall 2023 Policy Priorities and Executive Summary, Oct. 16)
Speakers & Policy Issues
Roundtable members engaged in policy issue discussions with the following guests:
Tom Barkin, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Richmond Fed President Barkin (above, with Roundtable Board Secretary Jodi McLean, Chief Executive Officer, EDENS) acknowledged how rising interest rates have hit CRE hard as the Fed aggressively moves to fight inflation. He also suggested recent data shows consumer demand is weakening, which may help to fight inflation. (Reuters | MarketWatch | Wall Street Journal, Oct. 17)
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Sen. Rounds (right, with Roundtable Board Member Ross Perot, Jr., Chairman, The Perot Companies and Hillwood) offered his insights into how capital and credit market volatility affects housing policy. He also discussed property insurance costs, supply side issues, and the rising national debt.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (ND)
Sen. Kramer also discussed capital liquidity issues and his serious concerns about foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan amid turmoil in House leadership.
Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY)
Rep. Torres (D-NY), gesturing above, discussed the violent, murderous attack on Israel and its citizens. He also engaged in a panel discussion on affordable housing, transit-oriented development, and real estate markets with Roundtable Board Members Owen Thomas, left, (Chairman and CEO, BXP); Mark Parrell, 2nd from left, (President and Chief Executive Officer, Equity Residential); and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, right. (See The Roundtable’s Oct. 13 Statement on the recent attack)
John Podesta, White House Senior Advisor for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation
[Photo: John Podesta, left, with Roundtable Board Member Tony Malkin (Chairman, President, and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust and Chair of The Roundtable’s Sustainability Advisory Committee)]. Mr. Podesta spoke with Roundtable members about the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s expansive clean energy and climate provisions.
Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY)
Gov. Hochul addressed real estate as a crucial economic force in New York State, noting the negative impact of remote work in New York City. She also discussed efforts to combat NIMBYism and the role of tax incentives and office conversions to jump-start affordable housing development.
Next on The Roundtable's meeting calendar is the all-member Annual Meeting, whick will include policy advisory committee meetings, on January 23-24, 2024 in Washington, DC.
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The Roundtable’s Board of Directors Announces Blackstone’s Kathleen McCarthy as Chair-Elect
The Real Estate Roundtable’s Board of Directors has elected Kathleen McCarthy (Global Co-Head of Blackstone Real Estate) as Chair-Elect to begin her three-year term as Roundtable Chair on July 1, 2024.
Chair-Elect McCarthy will succeed Roundtable ChairJohn Fish (Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Suffolk) on July 1.
“The Real Estate Roundtable and its Board of Directors are thrilled to announce Kathleen McCarthy as our Chair-Elect,” said Mr. Fish. “Kathleen is an extraordinary leader in the real estate industry and has been a key contributor to The Roundtable’s mission as a member of our Board. Her extensive experience and expertise as co-head of the world’s largest real estate platform brings a unique and invaluable perspective to our policy discussions.”
Mr. Fish added, “Kathleen’s fact-based approach and understanding of policies impacting commercial real estate will help advance policies that benefit communities, create jobs and accelerate economic growth. I am delighted that Kathleen will be the next Chair of The Real Estate Roundtable.”
Ms. McCarthy stated, “I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve as Chair of the Real Estate Roundtable and build upon the important work being done by John, Jeff and the entire Roundtable team. The opportunities and challenges facing our industry require innovative approaches and strong engagement between the public and private sectors. Advocacy for policies in an industry that touches so many aspects of everyday life is crucial and I'm committed to advancing our sector for the benefit of communities across the nation."
Blackstone Real Estate is the largest owner of commercial real estate globally with a $585 billion real estate portfolio and $333 billion in investor capital under management (as of June 30, 2023).
Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey D. DeBoer commented, “I am excited about our Board’s decision to select Kathleen McCarthy as our Chair-Elect, and look forward to working more extensively with her as we continue The Real Estate Roundtable’s solid track record of driving change in our industry for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
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Senate Bill Introduced to Define Federal Remote Work Roles; GSA Inspector General to Investigate Agency Telework Policies
Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) recently introduced the Telework Reform Act to codify government definitions of remote work and improve the accountability and transparency of federal telework programs. Meanwhile, the Inspector General of the General Services Administration (GSA) confirmed an audit is underway that is focused on how the agency manages telework and remote positions for over one million federal workers. (Lankford news release, Oct. 12 | Senate bill S. 3015) | Washington Times, Oct. 18)
The Senate legislation would require teleworking federal employees to return to their offices at least twice per two-week pay period. The bill also includes measures that would enforce annual reviews of telework agreements, mandate training for managers, and improve performance management, data accuracy, and cyber-security. (Government Executive, Oct. 13 and Federal News Network, Oct. 17)
Separately, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is seeking to add an amendment to federal spending bills that would force agencies to provide details on the cost of telework. “There’s no better way to start paying off our nation’s over $33 trillion debt than a clearance sale on unused office space.” (Washington Times, Oct. 18 | BGov, Sept. 14)
A recent letter from the GSA’s Inspector General to Sen. Ernst confirmed the IG's oversight investigation into the agency’s telework policies. (Washington Times, Oct. 18)
As the largest landlord in the United States, GSA’s Public Buildings Service (PBS) owns and leases more than 8,800 assets and maintains an inventory of more than 370 million square feet of rentable workspace. (GSA Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2022-2026)
The Senate actions come asa House subcommittee announced it will hold a second hearing on federal agencies’ post-pandemic telework policies. (See Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 15 for coverage of the first hearing).
Language similar to the SHOW UP Act is included in House-passed appropriations legislation. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 15)
The Real Estate Roundtable has urged President Biden and national policymakers for months to end government policies that encourage remote working arrangements for federal employees. (RER letter to President Biden, Dec. 2022; RER letter to Senate, April 2023)
In April, the White House Office of Personnel Management announced it was ending its “maximum telework” directive to federal agencies (Roundtable Weekly, April 21)
In August, the White House ordered Cabinet officials to increase the return of federal employees to their offices. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 11)
Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, repeatedly has emphasized that remote working by federal employees is undermining the health of cities, local tax bases, and small businesses. (Commercial Observerand The Hill, April 14)
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Roundtable and Industry Coalition Urge Treasury to Delay January Implementation of Beneficial Ownership Rules
The Real Estate Roundtable and a coalition of eight other national real estate groups on Oct. 13 urged Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to delay implementation of new “beneficial ownership” rules, which will significantly impact real estate. The new regulations—scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024 under the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA)—would be implemented by Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). (Coalition letter, Oct. 13)
Many real estate businesses will face a heavier compliance burden at a time when the industry faces economic challenges from decreasing office usage, and diminishing credit capacity. The businesses impacted could include numerous legal entities that own and operate real property across all asset classes as domestic corporations, LLCs and similar entities, along with foreign entities registered to do business in the United States.
FinCEN will be tasked with collecting and housing a centralized federal government database containing extensive, sensitive personal identifiers of the owners, senior employees, and/or advisors of certain businesses. Those entities will be required to report information about their “beneficial owners” who own at least 25% of the business or indirectly exercise “substantial control” over it. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 15)
On Sept. 27, FinCEN proposed a minor change to the current 30-day deadline for filing an initial Beneficial Ownership Information Return (BOIR). The proposal would extend the deadline to 90 days for reporting companies that were created or registered on or after Jan. 1, 2024 and before Jan. 1, 2025. No other changes were made to the final beneficial ownership reporting rule (Holland & Knight Alert, Sept. 28)
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), above, has introduced legislation—the Protecting Small Business Information Act of 2023 (H.R. 4035)—that would delay when the CTA’s beneficial ownership reporting requirements would go into effect. (McHenry news release, June 12)
The Roundtable and a broad coalition representing millions of businesses throughout the country wrote to Chairman McHenry last month in strong support of his legislation. (Coalition letter, Sept 12)