Success of Residential, Commercial Real Estate Intertwined Around Infrastructure, Experts Say

Local communities looking to attract residential and commercial real estate investment should address infrastructure needs first and foremost.

That’s according to experts at a REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo panel who told the audience that commercial and residential real estate succeed hand in hand with one another.

“As residential thrives, commercial thrives,” said Deena Zimmerman, 2017 commercial liaison for the National Association of Realtors®.  “These sectors must function together.”

Zimmerman pointed to e-commerce and walkable communities as examples of this relationship. She added that just as good infrastructure and a strong retail presence attracts homebuyers, a rise in homeownership attracts additional business.

James David, manager of Strategic Initiatives in the Economic Development Office of Loudoun County, Virginia, joined the panel and offered his perspective on how infrastructure developments have improved his own community.

David cited Dulles International Airport as key to inviting international business development locally and praised a fiber internet system that allowed Loudoun County to attract tech giants like AOL and MCI. According to David, 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic now goes through Loudoun County, while a cluster of datacenters that have moved to the region generate $150 million in tax revenue.

In addition to large-scale infrastructure projects like airports and fiber, panelist Brian Pallasch, managing director of Government Relations at the American Society of Civil Engineers, said congestion and other challenges to surface transportation are common problems in urban areas that need to be addressed.

While better roads are often looked at as a solution, Pallasch urged communities to think outside the box and consider alternatives like buses and light rail.

“In any large urban area it’s not about building more roads,” Pallasch said. “It’s about giving people choices.”

To help spur local investments, the National Association of Realtors® supports the TIGER and Capital Investment Grant programs at the Department of Transportation.

The TIGER grant program is among the only ways for local communities to apply directly for and secure funds from the federal government for priority transportation projects, while the Capital Investment Grant program is the federal government’s primary resource for supporting locally-planned, major transit capital investments.

In a recent letter to House and Senate Appropriators, NAR noted that while local and regional governments are responsible for 95 percent of all public transportation passenger miles traveled, “they receive less than 10 percent of the federal highway program’s funding.”

NAR’s panel, entitled “Improving Infrastructure Leads to Increased Real Estate Investment,” was scheduled as part of “Infrastructure Week.” The National Association of Realtors® is an affiliate member of the campaign, which promotes the message “#TimetoBuild.”

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