The Monitor – August 2014

Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®
GASTON, SUSAN COLOR 2255 (2)The Monitor – August 2014
Local Issues

Hampton
Join us at VPAR for the August 12th Lunch ‘n Learn with the City of Hampton’s Gail Hicks, Department of Public Works, and Steve Shapiro, Department of Community Development, regarding the City’s flood mitigation efforts and FEMA maps. On the agenda are:
• proposed changes to the flood zone ordinance;
• the importance of the flood elevation certificate;
• flood information services provided by the City, including a new flood tool, brochure, and study; and
• the Community Rating System (CRS) outreach & staff certifications.

VPAR has been contacted by Mayor George Wallace, Vice Mayor Linda Curtis and City Manager Mary Bunting to be part of a focus group of REALTORS®, builders and developers that will concentrate on how best to increase the City’s housing stock and how to meet the needs of the housing and development communities. More to come as details emerge on specific tasks and focus group members.

VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, continues to work with Community Development Director Steve Shapiro and members of the stakeholders group on the matter of the City’s Rental Inspection Program. The purpose of these discussions is to formulate measurable accountability standards to determine if the program is working, and how to calculate its effectiveness. VPAR has requested that Chief of Police Terry Sult be consulted on the program to advise of the effect of the program on crime in the areas of the City where the inspections are taking place. These discussions will be ongoing.

Speaking of Chief Sult, VPAR has had ongoing discussions with him and his investigative units regarding copper thefts and other metal larcenies throughout Hampton. A map has been developed that demonstrated the locations of these crimes that continue to be tracked by the Police Department. VPAR has provided mitigation details to the City and will continue to press the importance of careful diligence to members.

Confused about AICUZ? When do property owners disclose that they are in a noise or crash zone association with Langley Air Force Base? Or, when is disclosure NOT required? To better educate VPAR members as well as members from HRRA, who deal with similar issues from Oceana Naval Air Station, we are hosting a forum in conjunction with the September 23rd REALTOR Day event. Scheduled for 10:30 AM at the Marriott, VPAR and HRRA have invited VAR CEO Terrie Suit to speak to this issue given her work on it as a member of the House of Delegates. More details to come….but mark your schedule now.

Newport News
The Comprehensive Plan review continues in the City and will be ongoing for at least another 12 to 18 months. VPAR remains intensely engaged on the Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee (CPCAC); not only does the Association have two representatives on the Committee, but also, the Association’s Public Policy Committee participated in a “mini” visioning session in June to provide input on housing, commercial and economic development, and redevelopment. VPAR has asked the City to conduct a visioning exercise– similar to the April visioning exercise with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, visit http://www.nngov.com/planning/resources/cpcac for more details on how you and your clients can weigh in on the Comp Plan review.

Like every city and county in the region, Newport News is working on flood mitigation and FEMA maps. VPAR has asked the Public Works and Engineering Departments to convene an information session at VPAR so that the membership can better understand the location of properties both in and out of the maps and how best to reduce risk in regards to flooding. More to come.

Similarly, every locality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Newport News is implementing the new state stormwater regulations into their local stormwater ordinance. In the past 10 years, many changes have occurred regarding the issue of Stormwater Management. Regulated by the EPA, states must regulate both point and non-point source pollutions in their waters. As part of new regulations that have been in development for several years, including legislation approved by the General Assembly, there are a number of changes required in local stormwater management ordinances, particularly with permits for construction activities. The new regulations became effective on July 1, 2014.

Newport News thoroughly reviewed its stormwater management provisions and is in negotiation with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for approval. One particular noteworthy change that is universal to ALL local stormwater ordinances is that single-family residences separately that are built on less than one acre and are not part of a larger development plan are EXEMPT from the new guidelines. The Planning Commission APPROVED these changes on July 16th.

Also on July 16th, the Planning Commission APPROVED language that amends the Zoning Ordinance to allow group recovery homes in certain zoning districts of the City. A recovery home is a communal residential facility for not more than six (6) persons that provide housing for recovering addicts, a protected class under state and federal fair housing law. The group homes will be permitted by right in the O2 or hospital zones; they will be allowed with a conditional use permit in residential and commercial zones. Given that VPAR has long supported fair housing legislation and that the Association also has clarified repeatedly its support for the integrity of the conditional and special use permit process, VPAR has voiced support for the Recovery Home provisions. REALTOR® Michael Carpenter, a member of the Planning Commission, likewise offered his support for the language.
REGIONAL
In anticipation of the approval of the draft Virginia Real Estate Board (VREB) regulations, which can be found at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewXML.cfm?textid=8578, VPAR is working with the zoning and codes compliance administrators from each locality regarding their sign ordinances. The VREB has proposed that all For Sale and For Rent signs require the broker’s and firm’s name and contact information be clearly displayed. The Board believes that consumers should be able to daily contact the Broker if necessary. Whether by placing a sign rider to the current sign or even affixing a sticker with the required information to current signs, VPAR is making sure that the agents can comply in a cost effective manner that also complies with local sign ordinances. If necessary, VPAR will seek amendments to local sign provisions in order to remain compliant.

The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission has compiled all of the details from its various listening sessions and visioning exercises that were conducted to generate input regarding the Regional Comprehensive Plan. VPAR is one of the organizations that participated in this effort. The Commission has indicated that they likely will reach out to us again for additional input and to review the results, so stay tuned. View the various details gleaned from the Commission’s efforts to date at http://www.hrpdc.org/news/article/july/22/2014/envision-hampton-roads-launches-website/.

STATE
As noted above, the VREB regulations have been reviewed and re-drafted. Currently, the VREB proposal is awaiting approval from Governor McAuliffe… along with 28 other sets of draft regulations. THE VREB REGULATIONS ARE NOT IN EFFECT AT THIS TIME AND WILL NOT BECOME EFECTIVE UNTIL THE GOVERNOR HAS FORMALLY APPROVED AND SIGNED THE DOCUMENT. VPAR will advise the membership upon approval and the regulations becoming effective.

The VAR Public Policy Committee meets on August 13th to initiate discussions on legislation proposed for the 2015 General Assembly Session. This is only the beginning of a very detailed process, and if VPAR members know of issues that require a legislative remedy, please advise your Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, at susan@gastongroup.com . This is one of the important actions that the Association undertakes every year. VPAR has a reputation for bringing critical issues to the attention of the state association; from providing civil and criminal immunity to licensees to prohibiting Property Owner Associations from charging excessive fees, VPAR has helped to improve the professional climate for the industry and for homeowners. Let’s not stop now!

FEDERAL
On July 17, the U. S. Senate approved S. 2244, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014, by a vote of 93 – 4. This strong show of bipartisan support for the program follows NAR sending a letter to the Senate and conducting a “Call for Action” among its members urging Senators to support this bill when it was voted on. S. 2244 reauthorizes the federal program created by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) of 2002 for seven years. The government backstop created by the program for cases of catastrophic losses due to a terrorist event allows private insurers to provide affordable terrorism insurance coverage throughout the country, and the recoupment provision in it protects taxpayers while costing the government nothing. In June, the House Financial Services Committee approved its version of a TRIA reauthorization bill, H.R. 4187. NAR will continue to monitor this issue and advocate for a quick and smooth reauthorization of this program which provides such important protections to commercial real estate. Read NAR’s letter to the Senate in support of S. 2244. http://www.ksefocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/2/2080.pdf

On July 23, 2014, NAR testified on flood insurance before a Senate appropriations subcommittee. The hearing was called to evaluate FEMA’s first four months in implementing recent reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). REALTOR® Donna O. Smith (S.C.), who is overseeing NAR’s efforts on the NFIP, ably delivered the testimony for NAR.

REALTOR® Smith testified that overall, FEMA’s early decisions to conduct outreach and provide for broader rate relief and refunds have helped to calm real estate markets. While there has been progress, NAR will continue to closely monitor FEMA’s efforts this fall when refunding all those property owners who were overcharged for flood insurance since 2012. NAR also urged FEMA to expedite particular reforms which set up a government office of the Advocate who can and will go-to-bat with the insurance companies or FEMA on behalf of home owners who challenge faulty rate quotes and flood maps. View NAR’s testimony here:  http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/webcast/dhs-hearing-insuring-our-future

Should you have questions on these or other issues, or for additional details, please contact Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, at 757-871-1445 or at susan@gastongroup.com.

 

Military Air Installation- Property Noise Contour List

Noise Contour List

To search for properties in the noise contour please use the Hampton Noise Contour Map link below. Below the city map click on ‘Search By Address’. If the property is in the Noise Contour it will give you the decibel reading that is required in the form entitled ‘Real Estate Transfer Disclosure for Properties Located in a Locality in which a Military Air Installation is Located’. A copy of this form is located here

Finding the GIS Hampton Noise and Crash Zone Information Instructions

Hampton Noise Contour Map

Langley Noise Brochure

Oceana AICUZ and Noise Information

REALTORS and consumers alike will benefit from a better understanding of the noise contour and AICUZ ordinance requirements in Hampton Roads. With military air installations located in numerous municipalities throughout the region, as well as two international airports, it is inevitable that somewhere and somehow, aircraft noise will impact you. Now, with the help of this video prepared by the Department of Defense, you and your customers can learn the background of this issue and how it impacts property rights. Use the link below to view this video.

AICUZ Video

Law Addresses First-time Home Buyer Hurdle

Hampton, VA – On July 1, 2014, a new law took effect that makes it easier for Virginians to save for the purchase of their first homes. The Virginia Association of REALTORS®’ 2014 signature legislation, First-time Home buyer Savings Plans, House Bill 331, helps Virginians prepare for home ownership, reminds them of the importance of home ownership, and is designed to improve the long-term health of the housing market.
Virginians now will be able to invest up to $50,000 in financial institutions such as credit unions and banks or directly in mutual funds, brokerage accounts, or almost any other financial vehicle and declare them first-time home buyer savings plans. The gains or earnings on the investment are free of state taxes, and the funds can be used for down payments and closing costs on first home purchases in the commonwealth.
“This bill is a great opportunity to help the next generation of home buyers enter the housing market and buy their first home,” stated Kimbel Dornan, President of the Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS® (VPAR), the local trade association that covers housing issues in Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Isle of Wight County and York County. VPAR supported the bill and worked earnestly for its passage. All members of the Peninsula Delegation of the General Assembly voted in support of the measure.

Whether it’s a grandparent opening an account for a newborn, a forward-thinking high school student, or a recent college grad looking to the future, first-time home buyer savings plans will reinforce the idea that setting a little something aside today will make it easier to buy a home tomorrow.
-continued-

 

Frequently Asked Questions About the Law:
What kinds of accounts can be FHSPs?
Almost any account you have with a financial institution: mutual funds, CDs, brokerage (stocks, bonds, etc.), money markets, insurance, even a savings account. FHSPs can also include individual stocks.
How much can I put in a FHSP account?
You can contribute up to a total of $50,000 in principal, and the account can grow in value up to $150,000. You can put that $50,000 in all at once, or you can contribute over the years. There is no limit on how long the account can exist.
What can I use the money for?
A FHSP account can be used to pay for just about anything related to closing on a home — anything included on the settlement statement: closing costs, inspections, lender fees, etc. These are all considered “eligible costs.”
What is considered a first-time homebuyer?
A first-time buyer is: Someone who has never purchased a home before. That includes single-family homes, condos, coops, townhouses, or mobile homes. (It does not include land or commercial property.)
If you owned a home at some point but did not purchase one — e.g., if you inherited — you can still qualify.
Can I use the money to pay for someone else’s closing costs?
Yes. As long as the person you’re giving the money to (e.g., child, grandchild, niece, and even a close friend) is a first-time homebuyer.

Virginia is ahead of the curve on this initiative. Major real estate and business media figures have written extensively about not only first-time homebuyers who cannot afford the down payments required because of student debt, but also its effect on the housing market. This bill is a way to change that discussion and hopefully act as a platform for other states to enact similar proposals.

The Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS® is the voice for real estate on the Peninsula, representing nearly 1,000 real estate professionals active in all phases of real estate brokerage, development, and property management. Our mission is to protect private property rights and enhance our membership’s ability to achieve business success.
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2014 Annual Awards

Do you know someone who deserves some recognition? Someone who’s gone above and beyond? You have until October 10, 2014 to submit any nominations.

Now’s the time to help recognize them for all that they do and help them shine. It’s time to nominate someone (or even yourself) for the 2014 VPAR Annual Awards.

These awards recognize outstanding leadership, accomplishments, and professionalism in our industry — recipients will be recognized at a ceremony during the upcoming VPAR Casino Night Installation & Awards Banquet on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at the Marriott at City Center. Tickets are $65 per person and include wine, dinner, D.J. and Casino Night fun!

Help us recognize the best in our business by nominating your colleagues.
Applications are being accepted for…

• REALTOR® of the Year

• Salesperson of the Year

• Sales Team of the Year

• Property Manager of the Year

• Manager of the Year

• Code of Ethics Award

• Affiliate of the Year

• Community Service Award

The Monitor – Jun/Jul 2014 Edition

LOCAL ISSUES

HAMPTON

FLOOD ZONE ORDINANCE CHANGES and A LUNCH ‘N LEARN!
Mark your calendars for August 12th! VPAR is hosting a Lunch ‘n Learn with the City of Hampton that will feature new information about the flood zone ordinance.

Beginning at 12:00 noon, at VPAR, Gail Hicks, Water Resources Engineer for the Hampton Department of Public Works, and Steve Shapiro, Deputy Director of the Hampton Community Development Department, will be presenting the following information:
• Proposed changes to the flood zone ordinance (Steve)
• Importance of the flood elevation certificate and the Letter Of Map Amendment
• Flood information services provided by the City, including a new flood tool, brochure, and study
• Community Rating System (CRS) outreach & staff certifications

VPAR has been working with the City’s Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee (ZOAC) on proposed changes to Hampton’s flood zone ordinances, which include the following draft provisions:
• Increase free board on finished 1st floors from one foot to three feet, applying only to properties in the flood zone;
• Require 18’ elevation of flood proofing for all new construction and applying only to properties in the X500 area of properties with a 0.02% annual flood risk.

The issue will come to the Planning Commission in August and the City Council in September.

AIR INSTALLATION COMPATIBLE USE ZONE (AICUZ)
VPAR members have long used the disclosure form regarding the location of a property in the Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) that surrounds Langley Air Force Base. But how does that differ from required disclosures at Master Jet Base Oceana? Are their differences? How do REALTORS® on the other side of the water handle their noise, crash and AICUZ areas?

Learn the nuances, or not, between these air installations and what your responsibilities are to your sellers and buyers by attending the September 23rd forum. Held in conjunction with the Hampton Roads REALTORS® Association and as part of the VPAR REALTOR® Fest event, we invite you to this important issue from 10:30 AM until 12:00 noon at the Newport News Marriott. THERE IS NOT COST TO ATTEND!

VAR CEO Terrie Suit, one of the principal legislative authors of the Code of Virginia enabling legislation on AICUZ and air installation issues, will present relevant data, as will VAR Deputy General Counsel Blake Hegeman. Additional forum details will be forthcoming, but be sure to be part of this jam-packed session that will help you understand the do’s and don’ts of AICUZ disclosure.

HAMPTON RENTAL INSPECTION PROGRAM
VPAR continues to work with the City on the implementation of the Hampton Rental Inspection Program. At this point, we have hosted two events bringing the program inspectors together with REALTORS® and other stakeholders, and Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, remains in discussions with the City’s Community Development and Police Departments to formulate measurable standards to determine the program’s effectiveness.

In the meantime, there has been a threat of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU. VPAR and the Virginia Association of REALTORS® will be watching this situation carefully, but at this time, we will not weigh in on any filings.

COPPER and METAL LARCENIES
VPAR is working with the Hampton Police Department to stem the tide of ongoing copper thefts from HVAC units, copper plumbing components and other accessible copper wirings. While the rate of vandalism of metals and copper is down 39% over this time last year, the City continues to see larcenies, particularly in the AC units of vacant homes. There have been 100 thefts to date and 19 cases have closed, including one arrest. VPAR has advised the Virginia Bankers Association so that it can alert its member banks to issues with foreclosed properties. Look for more information forthcoming. We are considering have a late Fall Lunch ‘n Learn with the Hampton and Newport News Police Chiefs on this and other relevant issues.
NEWPORT NEWS
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DETAILS
The 18-month process of updating and reviewing the City’s Comprehensive Plan continues! Chaired by REALTOR Michael F. Carpenter, the Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee (CPCAC), which also includes VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, has been hard at work since December with monthly meetings.

Recently, VPAR’s Public Policy Committee held a conference call with the City’s Comprehensive Planning Consultants for the purpose of gathering VPAR’s input into specific issues in Newport News. While there is a focus on the Super Block and how to redevelop that important part of the City, the Public Policy members also discussed improving the City’s overall housing stock and housing opportunities as well as improving economic development. Committee members completed surveys and submitted them for inclusion into the overall community feedback aspect of the Plan.

Meanwhile, Legislative Consultant Susan Gaston is conducting in-depth discussions with City planners regarding specific housing issues that should be addressed in the Comprehensive Plan: workforce and affordable housing, high-end housing, senior housing, accessory dwelling units, etc.

For more information on the Comprehensive Plan and the review process, visit http://www.nngov.com/planning/resources/cpcac.

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT
Like every locality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the City is implementing the new state stormwater regulations into their local stormwater ordinance. In the past 10 years, many changes have occurred regarding the issue of Stormwater Management. Regulated by the EPA, states must regulate both point and non-point source pollutions in their waters. As part of new regulations that have been in development for several years, including legislation approved by the General Assembly, there are a number of changes required in local stormwater management ordinances, particularly with permits for construction activities. The new regulations became effective on July 1, 2014.

Newport News has thoroughly reviewed its stormwater management provisions and is in negotiation with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for approval. One particular noteworthy change that is universal to ALL local stormwater ordinances is that single-family residences separately that are built on less than one acre and are not part of a larger development plan are EXEMPT from the new guidelines. The Planning Commission will hear these changes on July 16th.

RECOVERY HOME ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS
The Regulations Committee, on which VPAR’s Legislative Consultant Susan Gaston serves, approved and will send to the Planning Commission on July 16th language that will amend the Zoning Ordinance to allow group recovery homes in certain zoning districts of the City. A recovery home is a communal residential facility for not more than six (6) persons that provide housing for recovering addicts, a protected class under state and federal fair housing law. The group homes will be permitted by right in the O2 or hospital zones; they will be allowed with a conditional use permit in residential and commercial zones.

Given that VPAR has long supported fair housing legislation, and has advocated for it during General Assembly sessions, and that the Association also has clarified repeatedly its support for the integrity of the conditional and special use permit process, VPAR has voiced support for the Recovery Home provisions. REALTOR® Michael Carpenter, a member of the Regulations Committee and the Planning Commission, likewise offered his support for the language.

FEMA MAPS
City planning staff advised that Newport News will be submitting its new flood maps to FEMA this month. They expect to hold community meetings in August, and VPAR will be invited to participate. There will be more to come on that here soon.

REGIONAL ISSUES
HAMPTON ROADS PLANNING DISTRICT COMMISSION (HRPDC) – THE REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
HRPDC is compiling information received from a variety of stakeholder groups, including VPAR, and will release in the coming days the goals, objectives and action items to move the plan forward.

Core values mentioned time and again included diversity, both of people and landscape, a sense of place with a sense of pride, our water and natural environment, military and history. And while there was an obvious affection for Hampton Roads, there was also an aspiration to make the region better by being proactive, embracing change, forward-thinking leadership and, most of all, thinking and acting more regionally and less parochially.

As the regional strategic planning effort continues, the HRPDC Steering Committee as well as Stakeholders will be meeting over the course of the next several months to roll up their sleeves and do this important work and we will continue to report on these efforts. VPAR has asked for specific input that will allow the Association to work with local government decision makers in areas involving land use and housing.

STATE ISSUES
DRAFT VREB REGULATIONS
The DRAFT regulations promulgated by the Virginia Real Estate Board are NOT in effect at this juncture. Governor McAuliffe has not signed the regulations, and until such time that his signature is placed upon the regulations, they are not effective.

One area where VPAR already is laying the groundwork, however, in anticipation of the Governor’s approval coming at some point soon, is regarding sign riders. The draft regulations would require that all “FOR SALE” and “FOR LEASE” signs placed on the property include but are not limited to the firm’s name and the firm’s primary or branch office telephone number. This information could be placed on a sign rider, but we want to be sure there are no prohibitions against sign riders in our localities’ zoning ordinances. More details to come.

 

NEW LAWS EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2014!
Check out the new laws that became effective on July 1, 2014! Go to VAR’s website at http://www.varealtor.com/NewLaws and learn details on all of the various real estate and business-related laws that YOUR ASSOCIATION successfully advocated in the 2014 General Assembly Session! If you would like to have more information on these legislative, now legal, components, contact Susan Gaston at susan@vpar.com or by phone at 757-871-1445, and schedule her to present the information at an upcoming sales meeting!
ELECTION INFORMATION
Discussions recently were held between VPAR and HRRA regarding the House of Delegates 64th District, in which a small portion of HRRA members reside but which is dominated by VPAR members. The Associations have agreed that VPAR will remain the primary association for the 64th House, which currently is represented by Del. Rick Morris. The Associations further agreed that VPAR will invite HRRA to participate in a meeting with Delegate Morris (or his successor) during VAR’s REALTOR® Day on the Hill and at least one additional meeting per year outside of the General Assembly session. Additionally, in the event of an open seat or a contested race, VPAR will invite HRRA to participate in the candidate interview and endorsement process for the 64th district. These mutual agreements will assist RPAC of Virginia in retaining its strength and high level of influence.
FEDERAL ISSUES
FEMA Releases Refund Guidance
On June 26, FEMA released guidance related to providing refunds to property owners that overpaid for flood insurance. Pursuant to Section 3 of the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA), refund amounts will be determined using rates made available in Bulletin W-14026 issued on May 29, 2014.

Section 3 of HFIAA requires FEMA to restore Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) subsidized rates and issue refunds of excess premiums collected above the subsidized rate for:
• Pre-FIRM properties not insured when the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012(Biggert-Waters) was enacted;
• Pre-FIRM properties purchased after Biggert-Waters was enacted; and
• Policies for Pre-FIRM properties that were rated full-risk under Biggert-Waters due to a lapse in coverage, but only for policies where the lapse was due to a property owner no longer being required to purchase flood insurance.
• The issuance of refunds will begin on Oct. 1, 2014, and must be completed by Dec. 31, 2014.

Fed/CFPB RESPA/TILA Webinar
On Tuesday June 17, 2014, the Federal Reserve and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) held a webinar describing the forthcoming August 2015 changes to loan disclosures and settlement statements. In addition to major changes to the forms themselves, the new rules will require that the settlement statement be completed three days prior to closing. While some changes may occur during the 3 day period, changes to loan terms will require a new 3 day waiting period. The webcast requires a short form to be completed and can be viewed at the link below. https://www.webcaster4.com/Webcast/Page/48/4689
Should you have questions on these or other issues, or for additional details, please contact Susan Gaston, VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, at 757-871-1445 or at susan@gastongroup.com.