(New York)

One of the surest signs in the economy right now is that real estate is in trouble. Data coming out of the sector has been consistently weak for months and shows a clear downtrend in the housing market. Rates seem to be playing a big part of that, as demand for housing has sunk as rates have risen. That could prove one of the few brakes on the Fed’s relentless rate hike path. The fall in real estate comes at a time when the market should be surging, as unemployment is at extreme lows and Millennials are entering their peak home buying years.

FINSUM: Besides stocks and bonds freaking out, real estate is one of the areas showing a lot of weakness, and this it is perhaps one of the few aspects that could stop the Fed.

(New York)

There is a lot of focus on stocks, bonds, and oil right now, but a very important US asset class is sending increasingly bleak signals: real estate. Data out of the sector has been growing weaker for months, and now new figures reinforce the trend. US homebuilder confidence has fallen to its lowest level in two years. The National Association of Homebuilders commented that “While home price growth accommodated increasing construction costs during this period, rising mortgage interest rates in recent months coupled with the cumulative run-up in pricing has caused housing demand to stall. As a consequence, builders have adopted a more cautious approach to market conditions”.

FINSUM: The rea estate market is slowly but surely tightening up. However, because price gains were never as over-the-top as pre-Crisis we only expect shallow declines as the next recession unfolds.

(New York)

Advisors have probably started to see some discussion of so-called “opportunity zone” investing. The idea of the concept is to invest in designated “opportunity zones”, which are economically depressed areas, and reap benefits. But the real opportunity is in the tax treatment of such investments. Barron’ sums it up this way, saying “How significant? If you roll the capital gains from the sale of anything—your home, shares of , a Modigliani—into a “qualified opportunity fund,” and hold for 10 years, you get to defer paying capital-gains tax until the end. Then you’re taxed on just 85% of the original investment, and 0% on any money generated by that initial money”.

FINSUM: This is a very good plan for people who don’t need the immediate liquidity associated with some asset sale and want to defer a lot of capital gains. There are several firms that are setting up special funds just for this new purpose.

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