THE MONITOR – January 2015

GASTON, SUSAN COLOR 2255 (2)Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®
Monthly Public Policy Report
“THE MONITOR”
January 2015

 

 

 

Local Issues

Hampton

VPAR CEO Jim Wetzel and Legislative Consultant Susan Gaston continue to discuss options for signage improvements to the VPAR sign in order to boost our tenants’ visibility. The Association is seeking amendments to the signage provisions of the Zoning Ordinance that will allow tenant names to be placed on the primary sign on Hampton Roads Center Parkway. It is a matter of time before the issue is heard by the Planning Commission, but the Economic Development Authority has expressed its support for our efforts.

Newport News

The Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee continues to meet, entering in December its one-year anniversary. Follow the process by going to http://www.nngov.com/1763/Comprehensive-Plan-Update. The next CPCAC meeting will be held on January 22nd! More to come next month as the Committee reignites its efforts in 2015.

VPAR is very involved in recruiting volunteers for and participating in the ONE CITY MARATHON in Newport News on March 15th! Volunteer to work or check off that New Year’s resolution and run in the event – just be part of the greater Newport News community. Check out details at http://www.runonecity.com/! And thanks to Dr. Telly Whitfield for the chock-filled information today about the marathon at the General Membership Meeting.

 
REGIONAL
VPAR hosted a very informative and engaging session with the Police Chiefs of both Hampton and Newport News on January 13. As the headliners of the General Membership Meeting, Chief Terry Sult from Hampton and Chief Richard Myer from Newport News offered insight into their mission and vision, community policing, recent and trending crime statistics, crime reduction efforts and REALTOR® safety tips.

Both chiefs provided websites that offer REALTORS® and their clients real time access to crime “hot spots” that highlight where crimes are occurring in each City. Hampton’s website is www.crimereports.com and the Newport News website is www.raidsonline.com.

 
STATE

The 2015 General Assembly of Virginia convened on January 14th for its 45-day “short” session. VAR, with input from local Associations and local Governmental Affairs Directors, will be working hard to pass the 2015 Legislative Package.

HB 1450 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act;
Representations related to special flood hazard area
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1450
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
Increasingly, local governments are entering into maintenance agreements with landowners that may require the landowner to maintain a “storm water facility” on the property. For years, we have advised buyers to identify the existence of these “facilities” on the property, but not to ask whether or not there is a formal maintenance agreement with the locality in place. To ensure our buyers and buyers agents know what to ask, we will propose amending the “buyer-beware” disclosure form to include the existence of storm water maintenance agreement.

HB 1452 – Landlord and tenant law; who may recover rent and possession
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1452
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller
Several judges in Virginia opine that, because “family trusts” are not specifically spelled out in the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (VRLTA), property managers cannot appear in court on behalf of their clients. This leaves the owner to have to appear in person or to have to hire an attorney. An oversight in the VRLTA, we will make sure that property managers can continue to represent their clients in court by amending the Code to add “family trusts”

HB 1965 – Consumer Awards from the Real Estate Transaction Recovery Fund
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1965
Introduced by: Thomas Davis Rust
Currently, when a licensee is found guilty of a Real Estate Board regulation and the consumer is owed money, the consumer has to petition the General District Court for a judgment. The judgment has to specifically state the offense that occurred with the real estate licensee and other very specific language. If that specific language is not included, the judge will not award the money to the consumer. This bill will amend the Code to allow judges to award a general judgment, already allowed for under the Board of Contractors.

*Bill Number Not Yet Released – Clarifications to the POA and COA
Introduced by: Christopher K. Peace
Each year, issues arise in the relationships between REALTORS®, homeowners, and Property Owners Associations (POAs) and Condominium Owners Associations (COAs). This bill will provide clarity to the law regarding what fees can be charged and what actions ownership associations can take. It is important to find the proper balance in the agreements between homeowners and POA’s and COA’s to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.
SB 775 – Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; related to special flood hazard zones http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+SB775
Introduced by: Mamie E. Locke

HB 1642 http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1642
Introduced by: Christopher P. Stolle

Buyers, particularly in coastal regions of Virginia, need to be able to identify whether properties will need additional flood insurance because they are located in a FEMA- determined flood zone. Current lending regulations require a flood certification be performed on every property, regardless of where it is in Virginia. This is used as part of the underwriting of the loan and to ensure that appropriate insurance coverage is applied.

However, the flood certification process could be used to educate buyers or potential buyers before contracts are ratified. Flood certifications are performed by third-party providers at a price that ranges between $50 and $100. A list of these providers is readily available on the FEMA website. Like home inspections, like storm water facilities, like the sexual offender registry, buyers should know what questions to ask. These bills amend the Code to add language to the “buyer-beware” list of disclosures that recommend that the purchaser obtain a flood certification report on the property.

HB 1424 – Virginia Water and Waste Authorities Act; delinquent payment
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1424
Introduced by: Daniel W. Marshall, III
Several years ago, VAR helped to pass a bill that prohibited a water authority from attaching a lien or otherwise requiring a landlord or property owner to pay delinquent water bills from their tenants before the services could be resumed. Unfortunately, the General Assembly missed one Code section.
To fix this oversight, HB 1424 amends all of the sections in the Code to prohibit water authorities from requiring landlords or property owners to pay delinquent water fees from tenants.

HB 1493 – Enticing, etc., real estate licensee with intent to commit certain felonies; penalty
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1493
Introduced by: Jackson H. Miller

SB 1100 http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+SB1100
Introduced by: Mark D. Obenshain

There have been several high-profile cases in the past several months in which REALTORS® have been lured into vacant houses, only to be assaulted, raped, abducted….or worse. In each of these instances, the victim was lured into the property through contact from a potential “client” who wanted to see the property. HB 1493 and SB 1100 will ensure that authorities have adequate tools in place to prosecute individuals who knowingly lure or trap REALTORS® into these circumstances with intent to do harm.

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for the 2015 REALTOR® Day on the Hill Event! Scheduled this year for Wednesday, February 11th, VPAR members are encouraged to come to this long-standing advocacy day that puts you in from of your legislators, and gives you the opportunity to lobby for your industry! Speakers are being lined up, the room is reserved and the food has been ordered! Call VPAR to sign up to make sure we have you all set, and register for the one-day ticket for the VAR Get Active Conference/REALTOR® Day on the Hill at http://www.varealtor.com/GetActive. Lunch and the AMAZING Legislative Reception at The Jefferson are included. More details will be forthcoming.

Each week during the Session, be sure to look for the VPAR LEGISLATIVE LINE that will give you the latest news on VAR’s bills, other legislation we are tracking, the legislators, the state budget, the Administration…..it always is chock-full of info that will keep you up-to-date on the latest news out of Richmond. Look especially for Calls to Action so that you can weigh in on critical issues!
FEDERAL
FHA Annual Premium Reduction Finalized

On January 8th, at a speech in Phoenix attended by NAR President Chris Polychron, President Obama announced that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) would reduce FHA annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) by 50 basis points.

Congress Renews TRIA Through 2020

In its first act of business in the 114th Congress, on January 7th, the House passed H.R. 26, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015, by a vote of 416-5.
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.

 

 

 

The Monitor – November/December 2014

GASTON, SUSAN COLOR 2255 (2)Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®
Monthly Public Policy Report
“THE MONITOR”
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

Local Issues

Hampton
Like most localities in Hampton Roads, Hampton is working toward approval of its FEMA flood maps and floodplain development regulations. The Join the City of Hampton and FEMA for an opportunity to view the newly updated Flood Maps on January 13, 2015 from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM at the Hampton Roads Convention Cetner. You (and/or your clients) will be able to find property on preliminary flood maps and learn about the anticipated flood risk, get answers to your questions from city and FEMA representatives and learn about flood insurance options from insurance specialists. Flood insurance quotes will not be available. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be hosted on January 20, 2015.

On December 3, CEO Jim Wetzel and Legislative Consultant Susan Gaston met with Planning Services Manager Keith Canady; Don Whipple, Chief City Planner; and Mike “Yaz” Yazkowsky, Economic Development Department Business Development Manager to discuss signage issues regarding the VPAR building. VPAR, on behalf of its tenants, is seeking amendments to the signage provisions of the Zoning Ordinance that will allow tenant names to be placed on the primary sign for the purpose of increased visibility. The process likely will take 60-90 days, but there appears to be support from the Economic Development Authority. More to come.

On November 12th, VPAR hosted a Rental Inspection Stakeholders meeting with Steve Shapiro, Deputy Director of Community Development; Phil Russell, Codes Compliance Manager; and the Rental Inspection Program inspectors to continue our ongoing discussions as to the progress of the program. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the program’s progress and status, assess its effectiveness and suggest methods to measure whether the original intended outcomes are being met. Collaborative efforts continue between VPAR and the City to develop a matrix of measurable achievements that will serve as benchmarks for the program.

Newport News
INTERESTED REALTORS® living in Newport News: Did you know that the City of Newport News has over 350 citizens on nearly 45 boards, commissions and committees? These citizen groups provide a wide variety of valuable technical, advisory, administrative, and judicial service to the City and its residents. Add to that the many regional boards and authorities that provide specific administrative direction to service provides on the Peninsula and in Hampton Roads in fields ranging from mental health and medical care to transportation, education and recreation, the list grows even larger.

At this time, the City is in need of volunteers willing to serve in these important positions. If you have an interest, please review the appointment process as follows and visit the City Clerk’s website for more details and for a Board Bank Application. http://www.nngov.com/262/Boards-Commissions-Committees

The Appointment Process
Appointments to the various boards, commissions and committees are made by the Newport News City Council on a quarterly basis. The length of term for the appointments varies from one to five years. The City Charter establishes a maximum length of service in that no member of a city board, commission or committee may serve for more than 10 years. Regional boards are in accordance with the Code of Virginia. To be appointed to a Newport News board, commission or committee, one must be a resident of the City, submit to a background check, be approved by a member of City Council and be approved by a simple majority vote of Council members. Generally, this voting process is accomplished by voice vote.

A citizen expresses an interest in serving on a board, commission or committee to the City Clerk or a Council member. To have an application mailed or faxed to you or to determine when vacancies occur on boards, commissions and committees, call the Office of the City Clerk at 757-926-8634. The citizen completes a Board Bank Application found at https://va-newportnews.civicplus.com/FormCenter/City-Clerk-19/Board-Bank-Application-79 or downloads an application in a PDF format found at http://www.nngov.com/DocumentCenter/View/3609.
The Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee continues to meet, entering in December its one-year anniversary. Moving now into Phase II, data collection and analysis, the emphasis is on citizen involvement and input that will include focus groups and stakeholder interviews. Also key to this next phase is the development of a vision statement.

VPAR is part of that process and is the source of the first stakeholder group session held on October 21st, when the Association hosted the Planning Department and members of the CPCAC to conduct a visioning exercise with the membership. The turnout was very strong and the feedback was extraordinary. The City Planning Department has compiled all of the VPAR member ideas and suggestions and has submitted that information to the CPCAC.

 

REGIONAL
VPAR continues to collaborate with Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) to improve transportation and transit systems on the Peninsula and throughout the region by soliciting feedback from the general public. CONNECT Hampton Roads (CHR) http://connecthamptonroads.com/ is a new initiative just started recently by HRT to kick start a conversation about what regional transportation options the public wants. Does the region want more buses running later, in more cities and longer into the weekends? What is the future role of light rail transit? How do bicycle paths and park and rides fit into the transportation mix? Are we imposing too much of a financial burden on cities under our current system?

With input from many regional stakeholders, including VPAR, HRT hopes to develop a
“blueprint” in early 2015. HRT has identified six major themes or ‘pillars’ around which that draft plan can be shaped. These pillars are gleaned from survey data, due diligence research into what other cities and regions throughout the United States are doing to plan and implement improved multimodal transportation, and from feedback from business, military, and community stakeholders.

Housing and public transits are important elements in our quality of life, and the two are very much aligned… so, REALTOR® input is very important to this process! Give your thoughts as to how to achieve the goal of a more connected community via transportation systems by going to https://connecthamptonroads.surveyanalytics.com/.

STATE

The 2015 General Assembly of Virginia convenes on January 14th for its 45-day “short” session. VAR, with input from local Associations and local Governmental Affairs Directors, is putting the final touches on its 2015 Legislative Package. Included in our initiatives for the Session will be:

Property/Condominium Owner Associations

 

  • Prohibition of fees not allowed under state code
  • Right of rescission exemption for auctioned properties to include newly constructed condos
  •  Prohibition on limiting or prohibiting rental units in POAs…just to name a few

Adding to the “buyer beware” list of disclosures that purchasers obtain a flood certification report on a prospective property purchase

Increasing REALTOR® safety and vulnerability by seeking legislation to add a separate felony charge to individuals who knowingly lure REALTORS® into unsafe circumstances that could lead to assault, rape, and even murder.

Storm Water Management Facility to be added to Property Disclosures

Technical amendments to the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act

Judicial Interpretations of property managers and family trusts

Consumer Recovery from the Real Estate Transaction Recovery Fund

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for the 2015 REALTOR® Day on the Hill Event! Scheduled this year for Wednesday, February 11th, VPAR members are encouraged to come to this long-standing advocacy day that puts you in from of your legislators, and gives you the opportunity to lobby for your industry! Speakers are being lined up, the room is reserved and the food has been ordered! Call VPAR to sign up to make sure we have you all set, and register for the one-day ticket for the VAR Get Active Conference/REALTOR® Day on the Hill at http://www.varealtor.com/GetActive. Lunch and the AMAZING Legislative Reception at The Jefferson are included. More details will be forthcoming.

Each week during the Session, be sure to look for the VPAR LEGISLATIVE LINE that will give you the latest news on VAR’s bills, other legislation we are tracking, the legislators, the state budget, the Administration…..it always is chock-full of info that will keep you up-to-date on the latest news out of Richmond. Look especially for Calls to Action so that you can weigh in on critical issues!

FEDERAL
On December 16, 2014, the United States Senate adjourned Sine Die (Latin for “without another day”) at 11:25 p.m. This marks the formal end of the 113th Congress meaning any legislation not enacted must be reintroduced in the 114th Congress which will begin on January 6, 2015.

The end of the “Lame Duck” session had mixed results for REALTORS®. Shockingly, the United States Senate failed to renew the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). This alarming failure to act before adjournment could stall commercial real estate development around the country. The Senate missed an opportunity to approve a six year reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act that passed the U.S House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill died when Senators were unable to reach a unanimous consent agreement which would have allowed the bill to proceed.

Despite this temporary set-back, REALTORS® will work closely with Congress in 2015 to swiftly reenact TRIA and provide much needed certainty to the commercial market.

Congress did enact a series of tax series of tax extensions. The “Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act” is included in the package approved by the U.S. House and Senate and is now headed to the President’s desk for signature into law.

In addition to the mortgage forgiveness provisions that will help distressed homeowners there are also provisions affecting commercial property investors who made transactions during 2014. The legislation also includes one-year extensions of the 15-year depreciation schedule for leasehold improvements and the deduction for improvements to energy efficient commercial buildings.

The effort to include the “Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act” was bipartisan and bicameral. Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, and Dean Heller, R-NV, have supported the bill from day one. Congressmen Tom Reed, R-NY, and Charlie Rangel, D-NY, have also championed the provision throughout the process.

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.

 

 

The Monitor – October 2014

GASTON, SUSAN COLOR 2255 (2)Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®
Monthly Public Policy Report
“THE MONITOR”
OCTOBER 2014

Local Issues
Hampton
HAMPTON 101 is back! And the Association is invited to attend! Spend a day with the City’s leaders and professional staff to learn more about housing and neighborhoods, Hampton City Schools, economic development, public safety and community development as well as the City’s federal and military facilities. Scheduled for November 13th, the event will be held from 8:00 AM until 1:00 PM at Cine Bistro in Peninsula Towne Center. Have lunch with the Chief of Police and take a fun City-wide bus tour in the afternoon! Register at www.hampton.gov/hampton101 or call 757-727-8311.

 

VPAR hosted a well-attended and fog-lifting session focused on the Air Installation Compatibility Use Zone (AICUZ) in relationship to Ft. Eustis and Langley Air Force Base. Joined by VAR CEO Terrie Suit, who in her former life as a member of the House of Delegates passed AICUZ legislation, the morning was filled with accurate information regarding the history of the issue, its importance to the Peninsula’s future and the proper use of the noise disclosures. Many thanks to Terrie and to the newest member of the VAR Legal Team, Laura Farley, for being key elements in the program!

 

Newport News
VPAR members Andy Cohen, Sandra Hood and Peggy Todd, along with CEO Jim Wetzel and Legislative Consultant Susan Gaston, attended the September 30th “STATE OF THE CITY OF NEWPORT NEWS” event. Mayor McKinley Price delivered his address at the Marriott City Center on Tuesday, September 30th. On behalf of Newport News City Council, he spoke to the theme of “Newport News: Where Innovation Happens! View the event here! (This is one of three in a series of lunch programs featuring the Mayors of Hampton,Newport News and Poquoson that are sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The final event will be held in Poquoson on October 30th!

 

The Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee met on October 9th after a summer recess. Accomplishments to date were reviewed and include the completion of the Comprehensive Plan survey; presentations on trends, challenges and opportunities; compilation and presentation of the City’s statistical profile; the initiation of public outreach sessions; and the development of a website….and that’s just Phase I! Moving now into Phase II, data collection and analysis, the emphasis is on citizen involvement and input that will include focus groups and stakeholder interviews.

 

VPAR is part of that process and is the source of the first stakeholder group session. Scheduled for October 21st, the Association will host the Planning Department and members of the Committee to conduct a visioning exercise with the membership. Be sure to attend this important discussion and provide your input into the City’s future! 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 most localities in Hampton Roads, Newport News is working toward approval of its FEMA flood maps and floodplain development regulations. The Regulations Committee, on which VPAR is represented by Susan Gaston, and the Planning Commission have approved amendments to the Zoning Ordinance that change the base flood elevation, modify the requirements for substantial improvements and repairs and requires an elevation certificate. On November 17th, FEMA reps will be in the area to work with the Cities and receive public input. VPAR is working with the localities to be part of these discussions and has asked Newport News to visit VPAR to present the new requirements. Stay tuned.

 

REGIONAL

 

VPAR is working to help Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) improve transportation and transit systems on the Peninsula and throughout the region by soliciting feedback from the general public.

 

CONNECT Hampton Roads is a new initiative just started recently by HRT to kick start a conversation about what regional transportation options the public wants. Does the region want more buses running later, in more cities and longer into the weekends? What is the future role of light rail transit? How do bicycle paths and park and rides fit into the transportation mix? Are we imposing too much of a financial burden on cities under our current system? Hampton Roads Transit will use the comments as part of an on-going discussion to gather comments, combining them into broad categories such as bus, rail, ferry services, pedestrian pathways and transit funding. The comments will be incorporated into a planned long-range Transportation Vision Plan. Next year, the plan will be shared with the Virginia General Assembly. Housing and public transits are important elements in our quality of life, and the two are very much aligned… so, REALTOR® input is very important to this process! Give your thoughts as to how to achieve the goal of a more connected community via transportation systems by going to https://connecthamptonroads.surveyanalytics.com/.

 

STATE
THE VREB REGULATIONS ARE NOT IN EFFECT AT THIS TIME AND WILL NOT BECOME EFFECTIVE UNTIL THE GOVERNOR HAS FORMALLY APPROVED AND SIGNED THE DOCUMENT. VPAR will advise the membership upon approval and the regulations becoming effective.

 

Many local associations, including VPAR, have policies that allow affiliate members or vendors (termite inspectors, appraisers, etc.) to have access to a lockbox upon approval by the listing agent. This is to assist in facilitating the completion of many of the services required for final settlement on the property transfer. In the proposed VREB regulations, there is an addition that would prohibit a licensee from providing a lock box code to an unlicensed person for access to the property. VPAR and other local associations have expressed ongoing concern regarding this provision and its unintended consequences.  As a result of outreach by VAR and local associations, the proposed regulations will be returned to the VREB by the Governor in order to delete the prohibition. The VREB is expected to consider the amendment at its November meeting, after which the regs will be returned to the Governor for final action.

 

The VAR Public Policy Committee met on October 8th to continue discussions on legislation proposed for the 2015 General Assembly Session. VPAR member Dale Chandler, a member of the state Committee, was in attendance. Several legislative priorities will move forward, including:

 

Property/Condominium Owner Associations

  • Prohibition of fees not allowed under state code
  • Right of rescission exemption for auctioned properties to include newly constructed condos
  • Prohibition on limiting or prohibiting rental units in POAs…just to name a few

 

Storm water Management Facility to be added to Property Disclosures
Technical amendments to the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act
If any VPAR member knows of issues that require a legislative remedy, please advise your Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, at susan@gastongroup.com.

 

FEDERAL

Bill Amending Condo Sales Requirements Signed

 

On Sept. 26th, 2014, the President signed into law H.R 2600, a bill to amend the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act (ILSA) to clarify how the Act applies to condominiums. As amended, the ILSA will treat the sales of condominiums still under development in the same manner as condo sales in completed projects. By doing so, the bill closes the loophole that allowed buyers to use a technicality to rescind otherwise valid real estate contracts due to personal financial reasons or “buyer’s remorse.”

 

SBA Asks EPA to Withdraw Water Rule

The U.S. Small Business Administration, a federal agency responsible for protecting the interests of small businesses, has asked the Administration to withdraw a proposed rule that changes the scope of existing law without Congress’ authority and expand federal regulatory power under the Clean Water Act. In a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) raised concerns that the proposed rule “Definition of Waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act” would have “direct, significant effects” on small businesses. The SBA Office of Advocacy stated that the proposed rule was improperly certified by the EPA and Corps, and urged withdrawal of the rule.

 

Coalition Letter on FHA 203(K)

On Sept. 26, 2014, the National Association of REALTORS®, along with the National Association of Home Builders and the Mortgage Bankers Association, sent a letter to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in response to proposed changes to the 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program. Read the letter! Letter FHA on 203(k)

Program Property Flipping Waiver

On Friday, October 3, NAR President Steve Brown sent a letter to FHA Commissioner, Carole Galante, urging FHA to extend the property flipping waiver that allows FHA financing on single family properties that are being resold within 90 days of the previous acquisition. NAR has seen the positive effects of the waiver where property rehabilitation and resale of these homes has increased the availability of safe and affordable homes in many communities. To read the full letter to FHA on the flipping waiver, please click here.

 

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.

The Monitor – September 2014

GASTON, SUSAN COLOR 2255 (2)Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®
Monthly Public Policy Report
“THE MONITOR”
SEPTEMBER 2014

Local Issues

Hampton
VPAR members Bill Brown, Sandra Hood, Chandra Patterson, Regina Scott and Peggy Todd, along with CEO Jim Wetzel and Legislative Consultant Susan Gaston, attended the September 3rd “STATE OF THE CITY OF HAMPTON” event. This is one of three in a series of lunch programs featuring the Mayors of Hampton, Newport News and Poquoson that are sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. VPAR members are encouraged to purchase individual tickets. Register for the remaining programs by visiting http://business.virginiapeninsulachamber.com/events/details/state-of-the-city-series-2036.

In response to outreach from Mayor George Wallace, Vice Mayor Linda Curtis and City Manager Mary Bunting, VPAR’s Public Policy Committee has put forth REALTOR® Peggy Todd 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. VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, has been asked by the City to represent VPAR as well, and former VPAR Presidents Perry Pilgrim and Tommy Thompson also are under consideration. More to come as details emerge on specific tasks and focus group members.

VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, continues to work with the City on the matter of the City’s Rental Inspection Program. At its August meeting, the Public Policy Committee reaffirmed its support of the ordinance, and also pledged its support to several proposed amendments to the ordinance that will make the program more favorable to landlords, property owners, REALTORS® and property managers.

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.

The City is set to begin review of the Coliseum Central, Downtown and North King Street Neighborhood Master Plans. VPAR already has reached out to the City’s Community Development Department; the City indicated that they would reach out to the Association for input and involvement.
Newport News
The Comprehensive Plan review process is back on track with the City’s recent hire of a new Director of Comprehensive Planning. VPAR remains intensely engaged on the Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee (CPCAC). VPAR is working with the Planning Department to schedule a member-wide visioning exercise to generate ideas from the membership regarding what they would like to see in Newport News in the coming decade. 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.

Poquoson
With the recent kick-off meeting of the Virginia Climate Change and Resiliency Commission on September 10th, almost on cue, the rains came to the Peninsula. But no one knows flooding like Poquoson knows (and handles) flooding. To better understand the details of the greater issue and the implications of policy initiatives, VAR’s Martin Johnson, Chief of Policy and Advocacy, will visit with Poquoson City leaders for a “Flooding 101” briefing Session. Joining Martin will be Susan Gaston. Stay tuned for more details!

REGIONAL
VPAR is working to help Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) improve transportation and transit systems on the Peninsula and throughout the region by soliciting feedback from the general public.

CONNECT Hampton Roads is a new initiative just started recently by HRT to kick start a conversation about what regional transportation options the public wants. Does the region want more buses running later, in more cities and longer into the weekends? What is the future role of light rail transit? How do bicycle paths and park and rides fit into the transportation mix? Are we imposing too much of a financial burden on cities under our current system?

Hampton Roads Transit will use the comments as part of an on-going discussion to gather comments, combining them into broad categories such as bus, rail, ferry services, pedestrian pathways and transit funding. The comments will be incorporated into a planned long-range Transportation Vision Plan. Next year, the plan will be shared with the Virginia General Assembly.

Housing and public transit are important elements in our quality of life, and the two are very much aligned… so, REALTOR® input is very important to this process! Give your thoughts as to how to achieve the goal of a more connected community via transportation systems by going to https://connecthamptonroads.surveyanalytics.com/.

STATE
The VREB regulations have been reviewed and re-drafted but to date remain unsigned, and this not in effect.

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 met 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. Additional discussions on the legislative positions will be held during the business meetings of the October VAR REAL SHOW.

FEDERAL
VPAR members Dale Chandler and Dot McKelvin, led by Federal Political Coordinator Chandra Patterson, represented VPAR at Congressman Bobby Scott’s (3rd – D, Newport News) Annual Labor Day Picnic. Joined by many elected officials from the Peninsula, the General Assembly and Congress, REALTOR® Patterson presented the Congressman with a check from NAR’s REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC). The event was a great opportunity to show REALTOR® strength and the influence of VPAR. See the fun photos on VPAR’s Facebook page .

Likewise, only a few days later, VPAR again was well-represented when REALTOR® Mary Beth Pauley, a former VPAR member who now is the Vice President of WAAR, and VPAR Public Policy Chairwoman, Sandra Hood, along with Legislative Consultant Susan Gaston, met with Congressman Rob Wittman (1st – R, Westmorland). REALTOR® Pauley, the Federal Political Coordinator for Congressman Wittman, presented the Congressman with a check from the national RPAC as well. It was a great opportunity to spend quality time with the Congressman and to discuss significant issues on the NAR radar screen, most notably, the issue regarding extending the Mortgage Indebtedness Forgiveness Act. Visit VPAR’s Facebook page to see a nice photo of the presentation!

NAR Asks Members of Congress to Co-Sponsor Mortgage Indebtedness Forgiveness Legislation
One of the top NAR priorities upon Congress’s return to Washington is to request co-sponsors for H. R. 2944, the bill to extend the Mortgage Indebtedness Forgiveness legislation. More information can be found here:
http://www.ksefocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/4/2072.pdf
NAR Participates in FAA Working Group
NAR has been invited to participate in an on-going Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) working group on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs). NAR will use this opportunity educate FAA officials on how Realtors are interested in utilizing this technology safely and responsibly. Currently, the FAA prohibits the use of UASs for any commercial purpose, such as creating a video to sell property. The FAA is on track to propose regulations in November that will establish a timeframe for integrating small UASs into the national airspace. NAR supports regulations that would allow members to use this technology safely but that are not overly cumbersome or expensive.

NAR Submits Comments to FHFA on G-Fees
On September 8, 2014, NAR submitted comments to FHFA in response to its Request for Input on the guarantee fees (g-fees) that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the government-sponsored enterprises or Enterprises) charge lenders; and to raise concerns about implementation of the proposed increases to both the g-fee and up-front fees charged to borrowers (loan level pricing adjustments or LLPAs).

NAR Submits Comments to FHFA on PMIERs.
On September 8, 2014, NAR submitted comments to FHFA on its proposed draft Private Mortgage Insurer Eligibility Requirements (PMIERs) for companies that insure mortgage loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The proposed requirements are important to NAR members as private mortgage insurance is often required for borrowers with down payments less than 20 percent.
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.

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.