Category Archives: Elections

Investor Article 2017

Hi friends,

I am planning on writing a series of real estate investor articles this year for my client base. I will go ahead and post the ones with some relevance to Bethesda here. The first one, below, looks at the connection between Russian cyber attacks and real estate investment. Puzzled? Well read on and all will be revealed!

 

Russian Cyber Hacking and Real Estate Growth: Washington, DC Metro Market Investor Column 2017

The 2016 election campaign is finally, thankfully, over but as anyone paying attention to the news will know, the fallout continues. While the post-election discussions taking place are animated and wide ranging, there is one area in particular that should be of interest to real estate investors, namely the focus on Russian cyber actions during the election.

Puzzled? Trying to determine why those two subjects should be in the same sentence?

Well, consider what happened to the Washington, DC metro market after the horrific 9/11 attacks; the government massively increased its national security/ military/ intelligence spending and that drove economic growth in the region for several years. This growth had a positive effect on prices and some, including me, would argue allowed the Washington, DC metro market to ride out the Great Recession better than the rest of the country.

Now, post-election, cyber security seems to be positioned as the new “hot” issue for government action. Policymakers of all stripes are starting to recognize that other countries have developed significant capabilities in this area. If past is prologue, the natural response will be to dramatically increase spending to ensure that the US is the dominant country in the cyber/ national security space in the years to come.

Some commentators may be surprised at the suggestion that cyber security growth will take place in the Washington, DC metro area and not in Silicon Valley or even some of America’s emerging tech hubs. First, I do not want to suggest that there won’t be growth in those areas, clearly there will be. However, the DC metro area already has a thriving tech industry (it has been called the Silicon Valley of the east for a number of years) and can collaborate on cyber security with its neighbors in government/ intelligence and the military. This geographic proximity and intersection, combined with a highly educated workforce, ensures the DC metro market is perfectly positioned to lead the cyber actions job revolution. My belief, shared by others, is that the leadership in this sector will come from the DC metro area.

As the funding increases and these jobs come online (literally and metaphorically), the pressure on housing and house pricing will grow. The beneficiaries of this uptick in economic activity should be real estate investors, home owners and others involved in the real estate sector.

Of course, as in life, nothing is guaranteed and there are details to be parsed out, but I believe that the connection between cyber security and real estate growth should be looked at closely.

Warmly,

Raj

This note is part of an occasional series of investor related pieces that I produce for clients and prospective clients. I appreciate receiving feedback and welcome the opportunity to discuss any aspect of the US real estate market with you or individuals in your network. I can be reached at (240)486-3921 or raj@rajabout.com

All information in this paper (and the associated series of papers) is presented in good faith but its accuracy is not guaranteed. The author, Raj Purohit, is a licensed real estate salesperson in Virginia, Maryland and DC, and is not an attorney (in DC, MD or VA), accountant, financial or tax advisor. The information in this paper should not be used to influence any investment decision. Before making any investment decision, you are advised to consult with legal, financial and tax counsel.

Happy New Year Bethesda

Dear readers,

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year!

I have noticed that many pundits, writers etc. have marked the change from 2016-2017 by noting how terrible the last year was and how relieved they are to move into 2017.

My take is slightly different. It is true that there were elections both in the US and around the world that seemed to be filled with negativity but, hidden in plain sight, so many positive things happened last year. Many of these are global and big picture in nature – US carbon emissions dropped, a ninth planet was discovered and Colombia moved closer to peace.

But, in some ways, of equal significance were the millions of positive things that happened much closer to home.

Let me give you three with a local twist:

1. At a local and global level – Bethesda’s NIH started Zika vaccine trials and showed an ability to assist infected people.

2. Bethesda’s Katie Ledecky dominated the Rio Olympic games.

3. Bethesda Green and Bethesda Magazine awarded prizes to groups of individuals and businesses for their contribution to greening our community.

Please email me your thoughts on the best things that happened in 2016 – from the personal to the local to the global.

We will feature the best ones – my email, as ever, raj@rajabout.com

 

 

Nazi symbols in the Bathroom and the End of the Work/Personal Life Divide

Dear readers – the following piece is more sobering and serious than many of our usual posts but in light of recent stories from Bethesda area schools I thought it necessary. Please feel free to email me with thoughts at raj@rajabout.com. I should note, for the record, that these comments are in my individual capacity (as ever) and should not be attributed in any way to any organization I am affiliated with (be that in real estate, academia or otherwise). Thank you!

Nazi symbols in the Bathroom and the End of the Work/Personal Life Divide

In the days since the conclusion of the 2016 Presidential election, the country has been roiled by emotion. From unconfined joy to utter despair, supporters of each candidate have reacted in ways that reflect the polarized, winner take all nature of our current body politic. Much of that is to be expected and understood, the stakes were high in this last election and the competing visions seemed worlds apart.

What has caught many off guard, although warning signs were there during the campaign, has been the sharp spike in racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic incidents in the days since the polls closed. Stories of despicable behavior are being shared with every increasing frequency. From school children targeting Latino classmates with chants about deportation and slurs being aimed at Indian Americans pumping gas, to Nazi symbols daubed on places of worship and cruel targeting of LGBT youth, there is a sense that decency has lost at the ballot box.

Unfortunately, at time of writing, the President elect has added fuel to the fire by picking a leader of the US Alt-Right movement as his senior White House advisor, a fact that is as disappointing as it is unsurprising. Elections have consequences is an old adage but the more important one is that great leadership brings with it great responsibility, and we must all hope, though perhaps not rely on, that lesson being eventually grasped by the next President.

Without leadership we have a vacuum. And that is really what I wanted to discuss in this post. What this election and its aftermath has started to bring into sharp relief is that it will be hard to put the genie of decency back in the bottle. When Nazi symbols are being daubed on the walls of Westland Middle and Burning Tree Elementary in Bethesda, it is past time for the community to react. We all must speak out publicly and unreservedly to condemn these actions and those who perpetrated them. More than that, we need to demand that all stakeholders recognize the new realities we are facing and develop tangible plans to unite our community against the hatred and intolerance that has been unleashed.

While I hope and believe that these steps can be taken, let me be clear, it is not enough. You see, I have high hopes that our community will make it through this period and emerge stronger and, yes, more united. However, for other communities around the country, the future is a lot less certain. What levers do the Muslim and Latino communities of this country have to pull when faced with chants about deportation and walls? A lot fewer than those of us who are fortunate to live here in progressive Bethesda or other similar places.

In light of that, it is up to us, those more privileged (due to education, wealth and role in society) to do much, much more. I have been blessed to be part of the Bethesda community for the best part of a decade and have come to understand that we have, among us, talent and influence on a scale that few communities can match. Now, after this election, we have to use those strengths to directly challenge the rise of hate we are seeing across the country.

What am I asking of you? In short, to rethink the way your personal beliefs about society and professional life interact. Yes, you should sign petitions and donate to organizations that are on the right side of these issues, but recognize that is no way close to being sufficient. When a country sees its very fabric begin to unravel, its citizens have an obligation to act not only during their private time but during their professional time. For example, if you run a contracting firm with high level political contacts,  referencing your profound concerns with those you are connected to is infinitely more significant than signing an e-petition to the White House.

I strongly believe that a community such as ours, can lead the way in resisting the tide of intolerance. And we can do so by making clear that everyone, from the President on down, has a responsibility to stand firmly and publicly against the hatred that this campaign has unleashed.

 

 

Tim Kaine will be Championing Hillary Clinton in Bethesda!

This is big news folks, looks like the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate will be in Bethesda on October 17th!

More news here.

And remember, the deadline to register to vote in Maryland is fast approaching:

“…by registering to vote ahead of the Oct. 17 deadline or by checking their registration status at iwillvote.com

Maryland Election Results 2010

No huge surprises in Maryland with the Gov and Senator winning reelection, Chris Van Hollen getting reelected to Congress from a district that includes Bethesda. You can see detailed results — here.

O’Malley Wins: Democratic Governor Reelected in Maryland

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley coasted to reelection last night easily besting Ehrlich 56-42. Interesting to note that Mont. County was the key to victory 68-31.

Worth reading the whole Post article but this local snip was interesting from a Bethesda standpoint:

“…..in the campaign, Ehrlich said he hoped to make inroads in Montgomery County, which is home to many Republican and independent voters despite its reputation as a Democratic bastion. Ehrlich set a goal of becoming the first GOP candidate for governor to crack 40 percent in the jurisdiction since 1994.

Returns show Ehrlich falling far short, with O’Malley outpolling him in Montgomery, 68 to 31 percent. Ehrlich’s performance in Montgomery lagged the 38 percent he received in 2002 and the 37 percent he received in 2006.”

Elections Tomorrow!

Find your polling place and voting information

http://maps.google.com/vote

THE BIG BALLOT QUESTIONS

Friends — hope this is useful!

THE BIG BALLOT QUESTIONS

Here’s a quick rundown of the FOUR questions you will see on your election ballot if you vote in Bethesda.  Question A is specific to Montgomery County Ballots. Questions 1-3 are statewide.  We’ve included a copy of the initiative as you will see it on the ballot along with a brief summary of the arguments “for” and “against”— as best we can decipher them and, we’ve included a few extra facts that might be handy.  Feel free to add your own comments.

The Four Questions Are:

Question A: Should there be an ambulance fee in Montgomery County?

Montgomery County Question:

Question A: Should there be an ambulance fee in Montgomery County?

As you will see it on the ballot:

Question A

Referendum on Law Enacted by the County Council
Emergency Medical Services Transport Fee

Shall the Act to require the collection of an emergency medical services transport (ambulance) fee from: (1) County residents to the extent of the resident’s insurance coverage; and (2) non-County residents subject to a hardship waiver become law?

Arguments “for” an ambulance fee: The county needs the revenue that this amendment would generate. Other counties report that they have not seen a marked decline the use of 911 as a result of ambulance fees.

Arguments “against” an ambulance fee: The fee would discourage some from calling 911; For “core government functions – police, fire, rescue – there should be no barriers”.  Once the fee is in place the incentive to increase it or do away with limiting protections will increase.

Extra information: “hardship waiver” would cover those earning three times the federal poverty guideline or less. That’s $32,490 for an individual, or $66,150 for a family of four. (according to a Washington post article on the issue: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/21/AR2010102106801_2.html )

Question 1: Should Maryland have a convention to change its constitution?

Statewide Questions

Question 1: Should Maryland have a convention to change its constitution? 

As you will see it on the ballot:

Question 1
Constitutional Amendment Question as you will see it on the ballot:

(Senate Bill 26, Chapter 9 of the 2010 Legislative Session)
Maryland Constitutional Convention

Should a constitutional convention be called for the purpose of changing the Maryland Constitution?

Under Article XIV, Section 2 of the Maryland Constitution the General Assembly is required to ask the voters every 20 years whether a constitutional convention should be called for the purpose of altering the Maryland Constitution.

Arguments “for” a Constitutional Convention: The constitution should be modernized. There are issues not currently addressed by the constitution that Maryland may want to address. Two issues that would require an amendment: Marriage definition; The addition of term limits.

Arguments “against” a Constitutional Convention: No need and it would cost money. If there is a convention it would be open ended. Any section could be changed as the entire constitution would be up for meddling in one shot. Better to have issues brought up for referendum one at a time as it will be more contained.

Extra Information: A vote for a constitutional convention would be a vote for launching a process to revise the state constitution. Maryland state lawmakers are only required to put the option of a constitutional convention question on the ballot once every 20 years. Washington Post had a fun article on the topic back in July and an interactive link to allow folks to try their hand at amending the existing constitution: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/annapolis/2010/07/how_would_you_change_the_maryl.html?sid=ST2010070501348