Tackling Tax Reform: How Changes to the Law Impact CRE


Just before Christmas, Congress offered up to President Trump what is arguably the best gift lawmakers could have presented: a major legislative victory in the form of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The sweeping reform of the U.S. federal tax system will mean significant changes for individuals and businesses, including those in commercial real estate.

Some particulars of the bill are being worked out at the IRS and are expected to be clarified this month. Ahead of that, Marcus & Millichap,a national CRE brokerage firm, broke down how
investors will be impacted by the changes with a forum of experts.

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Property Tax Reductions: Senate Bill 1 and Hurricane Harvey

REDNews Interviews Senator Paul Bettencourt for an update


Senate Bill 1
Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), is proposed legislation allowing for property tax rate elections if county property tax revenues exceeded 4% of what was taken in the year before. Basically, as values go up,
SB1 proposes to roll back tax rates to provide property tax relief. SB1 proposed to decrease the rollback rate from the current 8% to 4%. The Texas Senate endorsed SB 1. Members from the Texas
House and Senate met in a special session on July 26th to vote on the rollback. According to Senator Bettencourt, Speaker of the House Joe Straus was unwilling to appoint a conference committee so the bill was defeated.

Per Lieutenant Governor Patrick, “Whenever the Senate convenes again, either a special or regular session, it is our intention to pass that bill one more time. There will be a lot of reform measures
associated with it, as well. Governor Abbott is supportive and is hopeful that it will pass.”

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Know Your Rights: New Limits on City Government


Cities have enormous inherent and statutory powers to regulate land development.

Zoning regulations, economic development regulations, general police powers to regulate for the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the City,\ and many other sources of authority all greatly impact property owners. Every two years, the Texas Legislature is presented with numerous bills designed to change what cities can and can’t do. The 2015 Legislative Session prevented cities from instituting fracking bans. The most recent legislative session continued the trend of reigning in municipal power by enacting several bills specifically limiting a city’s authority over land development. 

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Where Have All the Golf Courses Gone?


America’s love affair with golf is waning. There are too many golf courses and not enough golfers. The average age of the active golfer is increasing…and the cost to maintain the courses is increasing as well.

Few people realize the golf courses periodically require significant capital infusion to upgrade their facilities in order to successfully compete with newer courses. Physical amenities age and must be remodeled. New high quality residential communities use lakes and other passive greenspace, and even urban farms, as amenities instead of the traditional golf course.

Buyers of golf course lots should be wary and conduct careful due diligence before purchase, so they accept the risk of the adjacent golf course terminating operation and changing use.

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Reconstruction after Harvey: Flood Development Permits & Grandfathered Structures in Houston


In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I’ve been receiving questions about how to reconstruct damaged structures, both those in flood zones and not, especially those that don’t meet current codes. Some development regulations and policies that affect reconstruction are pretty simple and straightforward, while others are complicated, vague, and sometimes not even written down anywhere. While Houston may not have a formal zoning code that covers the entire city, it does have quite a few development regulations, all of which would normally be found in a zoning code. Noncompliance can result in denial of building permits, stop-work orders, even revocation of certificates of occupancy. Fortunately, there is a path forward for most projects. It’s important for property owners to know what to expect and what their options are in different situations.

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Deal or No Deal? – Letters of Intent: Lessons from the Enterprise Case


A $469,375,000 Million Dollar trial court verdict based on a “letter of intent,” later reverse  on appeal resonates in the real estate industry, where letters of intent are commonplace.

How it started: Enterprise Products, a Houston based pipeline developer/operator approached Energy Transfer, a Dallas based competitor, to investigate a shared development transaction to transport oil from the important industry storage center in Cushing, Oklahoma to Houston, thereby eliminating a major logistics bottleneck. They signed the following documents for the proposed “Double E Pipeline”:

  • Initially, a Confidentiality Agreement to permit sharing of information, with the intention to work toward a letter of intent for the proposed transaction.

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