Intero Insider: Google Says Hello to Real Estate

Google is an economic force to be reckoned with here in the Bay Area – and especially in Silicon Valley. The Internet pioneer employs more than 20,000 people, and they would seem to be among the happiest employees on earth. The company’s latest news to hit the streets: it has jumped into real estate.

This news, however, is probably not what you’d expect. Google did not release an all-encompassing super-powered Internet search experience for home listings. Rather, the Mountain View-based giant is creating an $86-million Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) fund that will subsidize the construction and operation of 480 affordable rental units in seven communities in the West and Midwest for seniors and low-income families.

Google must have realized that there is no shortage of ways to help in the real estate arena offline. The fund apparently is not the first effort – Google recently invested in two other low-income housing projects for seniors in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County.

So far, none of the projects have been in Google’s backyard in Mountain View, but it’s not really Google picking and choosing where the money goes. For that, they rely on the fund manager.

It’s nice to see philanthropic efforts by major U.S. corporations hit home like this. Affordable housing indeed is a problem in many areas and may get worse if the economy continues to disappoint.

Google’s investment comes at a time when many developers of low-income housing projects face huge financial hurdles and lack of funds. It is unusual for a technology company to fund projects like this. This move shows how the investor base for affordable housing is expanding beyond traditional means like banks.

It will be really interesting to see whether other large companies follow suit. As I mentioned, there are certainly a lot of projects needing funding and affordable housing is a social issue that is easy to get behind.