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December 17, 2014

Tech Jobs, Foreign Buyers Will Drive Market in 2015


The strength of the tech industry and foreign buyers’ appetite for Bay Area homes will be the biggest factors influencing the local real estate market in 2015, according to First Republic’s Senior Managing Director and Porfolio Manager Alan Zafran at yesterday’s Realtor luncheon at the St. Francis Yacht Club.

I enjoyed a nice lunch with my colleagues while Zafran presented “2015: Bull or Bear Market.” The upshot? Much hinges on local job creation. For example, all the 50,000 units currently in the development pipeline? There will need to be enough jobs to allow employees to fill those units over the next ten years. And with jobs steadily being outsourced to areas like Ann Arbor, Michigan, Austin and Raleigh, North Carolina, developers need to be careful about continuing to plunge ahead with high-flying projects.

Then again, there are currently 346 tech companies that have filed for IPOs, so I think there’s reason to believe the demand for housing in both new construction and resale properties.

Our real estate market will also largely depend on the willingness of foreign buyers to continue purchasing property here. The top five international home-buying countries are Canada, China, India, Mexico and the U.K.

Zafran mentioned the EB-5 Visa Program, which allows non-U.S. citizens to invest $500,000 in a U.S. company and earn themselves a green card. (Having a green card is a huge part of being able to qualify for a loan here.) 85% of applicants for this program worldwide are from China, and their primary targets are purchasing single-family homes in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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