Why is Google Getting Involved in Real Estate?

News came this week that Google was putting $86 million into helping fund 480 low-income housing units across the Midwest and West Coast.

The money will go into a Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) that will give tax credits to builders and developers of  homes for low-income families and senior citizens. It will be managed by U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC), part of U.S. Bank.

Why would a search engine (that also happens to be the one of the world’s most powerful technology companies) start sloshing around in the murky waters of real estate investing? And what impact will it have on the real estate market at large?

The answer to the first question, as TechCrunch points out, may just be that they can afford to.

Google is sitting on over $30 billion in cash and short term investments. Mountains of cash don’t always please shareholders, who feel companies could be using it to grow the company, make smart investments, or return it to them.

Google has been mulling over what to do with some of its cash. In their most recent quarterly conference call, the company suggested it was considering buying back shares and investing in commercial paper. So the unusual real estate venture may be another experiment in investing that the company can afford to make. Plus, it aligns with the company’s informal motto: “Don’t be Evil.”

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