Gov. McAuliffe signs entire VAR Legislative Package into law

From VAR….

Over the weekend, your Virginia Association of REALTORS® Policy and Advocacy team received confirmation that Governor McAuliffe signed the entire Virginia Association of REALTORS® Legislative Agenda into law.  Though the specific provisions of the bills he signed will not come into effect until July 1, 2014, we are pleased that the Governor signed them, exactly as they passed the Virginia General Assembly.

· HB 331 – Establishing First Time Homeowners Savings Plans
VAR sought to establish First Time Homeowner Savings Plans that will allow a contributor to deposit up to $50,000 principal into a banking or investment account, and have all the earnings on that account be forever free of state taxes. A qualified beneficiary would be someone living in Virginia, who has never owned property- individually or jointly- anywhere in the U.S.

  • HB 273 – Making important changes to the Landlord-Tenant Act
    We amended the Landlord-Tenant Act to allow many more rental properties to fall under the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, which has long been supported by VAR attorneys as being much better for landlords, property managers and their owners.  In addition, we removed the requirement that landlords and property managers pay interest on security deposits.
  • HB 900 – POA/Condo Act changes
    We amended the POA / Condo Act to continue clarifying fees that are allowed versus those not allowed under Virginia law.  In addition we make sure that Realtors and their clients can receive homeowner association packets electronically, if requested.  Finally, we allow for easier use of those homeowners associations who maintain websites.
  • HB 208 – Clarifying the law to protect property rights
    We clarified the language of the vested rights statute we passed in 2008 to preserve our accomplishments and to protect property owners from local governments that may wish to require existing buildings without documented building permits be removed.
  • SB 302 / HB 259 – Protecting members from being labeled criminals (i.e., making it criminal to assert that a real estate licensee is a criminal)
    To protect Realtors from being unjustly labeled as criminals, if an attorney accuses a real estate licensee of criminal false advertising in a lawsuit, we will now require the attorney to state the facts with particularity, to make sure attorneys are not just accusing criminal false advertising without building in the facts or reasons behind the accusations.

As July 1, 2014 nears, we will make sure our members are reminded of these changes to the law, as well as the many others that will come into effect.

Sincerely,

Bradley J. Boland
2014 Virginia Association of REALTORS® President

NAR Call for Action: Send a message to our senators though Twitter

The following is a blog entry from VAR Buzz. 

Posted by Andrew Kantor   

NAR is trying something new. In its latest Call for Action, it wants Realtors across the country to reach out to the Senate via Twitter. The issue: patent trolls.

Patent trolls are a threat to America’s economy and have increasingly become a financial and legal burden on individual REALTORs, MLSs, and our state and local REALTOR associations. Patent trolls are companies that use patents as legal weapons rather than to produce products or create new innovations. These trolls send threatening demand letters, seeking payment from small businesses like REALTORs, for using common business technologies like scanner-copiers; drop-down website menus; or even mapping features.

Fighting a troll in court can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Increasingly, tech innovations are driving the delivery of real estate services. Our members know firsthand that patent trolls divert significant time and money from their businesses. Without needed reforms that reinforce legitimate patent rights and curtail frivolous litigation schemes, REALTORs’ ability to grow, innovate and better serve modern consumers will be put at risk.

You can help out either of two ways. Hop onto Twitter and send something like the following, recommended by NAR (just cut and paste):

@MarkWarner: As my senator, I urge you to protect #REALTORS from abusive #patenttrolls #FixPatents now!

@SenKaineOffice: As my senator, I urge you to protect #REALTORS from abusive #patenttrolls #FixPatents now!

Or you can click here to do it through the Realtor Action Center.

President Obama Signs Flood Insurance Bill

On March 21, 2014, President Obama signed into law the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability” amendments to the 2012 Biggert-Waters law:

  • Repeals the property sales trigger requiring that buyers immediately pay the full-risk premium rate at the time of purchase.
  • Restores “grandfathering” of rates under flood zones when properties were built to code.
  • Limits future increases to 18% annually for most properties built generally after 1975 and 25% for the older properties until they are paying full cost for flood insurance.
  • Refunds any premiums paid by property owners in excess of 18-25% increases.

This represents a dramatic departure from earlier versions that would have “paused” increases until FEMA reported on affordability. As enacted, the bill hits the “reset” button back to pre-2012 levels and caps all increases going forward. To make up revenue, a small assessment is added to all NFIP policies until property owners are paying full cost for flood insurance.
While going further in making permanent changes to law and providing refunds, the bill also allows 8-16 months for FEMA to issue the regulations to implement these changes. Most property owners will not see these changes reflected in rate quotes and insurance renewal notices right away.

[Note: This summary is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice or relied upon in connection with a real estate transaction without consulting legal counsel.]

Click here to read the entire issue brief prepared by NAR.

NAR Issue Brief Top 10 Things for REALTORS ® to Know About the Camp Tax Reform Proposal

On February 26, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released his long-awaited plan to reform the federal tax system. The plan was released as a discussion draft only, rather than as an introduced bill. Thus, the proposal is not a legislative vehicle that is likely to move through the House or the Senate this year. However, its provisions are important because Members of Congress could endorse them and possibly include them in a future tax reform bill that is more viable.

Click here to read the Issue Brief prepared by NAR.

NAR Reaction to Tax Reform Discussion Draft

Statement from President Steve Brown

“NAR supports reforms that promote economic growth, but we strongly oppose severely altering the rules that govern ownership and investment in real estate.  Real estate powers almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy, employs more than 17 million Americans, and contributes a quarter of all federal and state tax revenue and as much as 70 percent of local taxes.

“We are extremely disappointed with several of the provisions contained in U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s tax reform draft released today, namely proposed limits on the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains, and the repeal of deductions for state and local property taxes. These proposed changes to the taxation of real estate will impact every single American, either directly or indirectly.

“NAR will carefully analyze the details of the Chairman’s plan so we can best educate Congress and the public about how this plan would impact the owners, consumers, and producers of both residential and commercial real estate.”

Chairman Camp Releases Tax Reform Discussion Draft

On Wednesday February 26, 2014, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dave Camp (R-MI) released his long-awaited discussion draft for comprehensive reform of the tax code. In anticipation of the release, NAR sent a letter to all Members of the House on Monday reminding them of NAR’s priorities in tax reform. Now that the draft has been released, NAR staff is carefully reviewing the contents to evaluate its impact on residential and commercial real estate and plans to share those findings with Congress. It is important to remember that the Camp bill is only a discussion draft and because of the political landscape and timeline, NAR does not believe any tax reform bill will become law this Congress. Please stay tuned for more details and analysis from NAR.