Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Preparing for an Obama presidency in CRE

As exemplified by this Retail Traffic piece last week comparing GOP and Democratic policies, dirt folks need to start preparing for an Obama presidency, assuming we don't end up in a Dewey Defeats Truman scenario.

What will be good? Well, the Democrats will likely spend a lot of money on various programs in an attempt to stimulate the economy. This could lead to more projects and spending in the middle class, but it could also lead to higher prices and construction and labor costs.

On the other hand, you have some real negatives, intentional or not. Capital gains taxes will increase, meaning more money to Uncle Sam when you sell unless you 1031 your proceeds. And yes, I am prepared to start acting as a qualified intermediary because I see an increase in these deals coming. Retailers are worried that soaking high income people will be problematic because they will have less disposable income and that the income will not be replaced by middle class tax cuts, which may not come anyway.

But, as I have said before, the big one for me (and my law practice) and for developers that will really have a chilling effect on my income and my clients is the carried interest rule. Obama is in favor of changing the rule because hedgies have made so much money. In real estate, however, the chilling effect of charging developers ordinary income for their promote could be scary. I hope smart tax lawyers are looking for new ideas to keep deals going.

If anyone has any thoughts on the potential impacts of Obama, Pelosi and Reid, please let me know. We're already in a down market and I fear -- perhaps incorrectly -- a further chilling effect.

My clients can find other things to do to invest and make money. Me? I may have to retool my practice. Trust and estates, anyone? Traffic tickets? Slip and fall? Or, as we used to say at the Daley Center, TCC (two cars crashing)?

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