Inside: High Demand, Low Supply, and Technology Converge on Local Real Estate

Thank you to the Contra Costa Lawyer for inviting me to edit this issue devoted to real estate. And what an exciting time to be a real estate practitioner, particularly in our county. All factors seem to be pointing to Bay Area real estate keeping and hopefully increasing its long-term value. Supply is limited, but the demand keeps going up, driven by the local economy and jobs, and the resulting need for housing. This creates all sorts of challenges for property owners, investors, lenders, local governments, businesses, renters, and the professionals they hire.

Inside this issue, we see examples of how the stakeholders in local real estate have recently attempted to deal with these challenges, sometimes more successfully than others. In Airbnb, entrepreneurs, property investors, and technology have converged to substantially increase income on residential property through short-term rentals. But with demand for affordable housing at so-called “crisis” levels, more cities are moving to limit these arrangements, as well as place increased controls on rents and evictions. We are also reminded of the risks that come with the incentives and pressures on developers and cities to maximize value through increased density; San Francisco now has its very own “leaning tower.” For attorneys and their clients, such events will inevitably lead to litigation but will likewise cause developments in disclosure practices, lending, risk allocation, due diligence, insurance coverages, local planning, and many other transactional considerations.

This environment holds much in store for Contra Costa County practitioners, especially. Among the Bay Area counties, ours may be the most affordable and have the most developable land. Businesses and residents in the Bay Area are looking east.

With so much more real estate activity on the horizon, the CCCBA and its Real Estate Section will continue to be essential resources for local real estate attorneys. If you practice real estate, or are interested in the topic, please contact the CCCBA to join the Real Estate Section, and whether or not you are a section member, please attend the Real Estate Section MCLE breakfasts, free to section members, which occur on the third Friday of most months. Please also read inside about Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) as a resource for real estate matters that require legal aid or pro bono services.

Finally, many thanks to the authors (as well as the interviewers and interviewees) who contributed to this edition. Given the amount of practical information here, I am looking forward to keeping this issue on my desk as a quick reference.