The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (US) created something known as Opportunity Zones. These are low-income and high-poverty census tracts that are designed to attract investment by offering a number of different tax benefits. I first wrote about it on the blog, here.
Now that some time has passed since the final Opportunity Zones were announced, Zillow Economic Research decided to look at the possible impact of this designation on real estate values. In other words: To what extent, if at all, are the tax benefits getting capitalized into the value of the properties?
Below is a chart showing the year-over-year change in the 12-month moving average sale price for low-income census tracts that were (1) eligible and selected as an Opportunity Zone; (2) eligible and not selected; and (3) not eligible.
My understanding is that the “not eligible” category represents census tracts with similar characteristics to the other two categories but, for whatever reason, were not eligible to become an Opportunity Zone. There are criteria.
The program is still quite new, but what Zillow found was that the eligible census tracts (green and yellow lines) seemed to exhibit similar sale price increases after the Act was signed, but before the final Opportunity Zones were announced. Once the final Zones were announced, sale prices in the selected category (green line) began to surge and move away from the pack.
This may be evidence that the tax benefits are starting to get capitalized, or it may not be. One question I have is about why pricing in the selected Opportunity Zones seems to be a lot more volatile — even before the Act was announced.