The Monitor – April 2015

GASTON, SUSAN COLOR 2255 (2)Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®




Local Issues


City of Hampton
On April 2nd, the Planning Department unanimously approved changes to the sign provisions of the Zoning Ordinance that will allow for building owners in the Hampton Roads Center Parkway development to post the names of current tenants on their exterior in-ground signs. This change benefits VPAR directly and permits the Association’s various tenants to be listed. In doing so, greater exposure is given to these companies and incents them to stay within the development. VPAR worked with the Economic Development Authority and with the Planning Department to engage their early support. Your Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, spoke to the matter, stating that the Association appreciated the City’s support in allowing this change and in working with the Association to find a meaningful solution to an issue that had been raised by tenants for a couple of years. Having passed the Commission, the issue will be heard by Council on May 13th.


City of Newport News
The City’s work on updating its Comprehensive Plan continues! Now into its 15 month of what is expected to be a two-year process, the Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee (CPCAC) still meets at least monthly and is moving through the Plan chapter by chapter, most recently working on the Vision and Mission statements. VPAR has a seat at the table and is very engaged in this important process that will be the guide for amending the City’s Zoning Ordinance and other important policies.


VPAR has been approved for a $5,000 NAR Housing Opportunity Program (HOP) grant! The Association applied in January for the grant in order to gather data on the current housing stock and housing market in the City, and also to assess both current and future housing needs. This data is being compiled, reviewed and analyzed by Dr. Tom Hall Christopher Newport University. Along with census track data and City data regarding transportation, building permits and important data from REIN, VPAR is developing the “data dump” for Dr. Hall. Upon completion, regardless of the results, the findings will be presented to the County upon completion and review. THIS IS YOUR NAR DUES AT WORK, COMING RIGHT BACK HERE TO BE USED IN YOUR BACKYARD!


VPAR also was the recipient of a $2,000 NAR Placemaking Micro-grant that will be used to fund two benches from VPAR as part of the renovations of the Victory Arch located in downtown Newport News. We have been working with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department on this initiative since December of last year.


You may be aware that the Arch and its surrounding park are going through a refurbishment, and the two VPAR Veterans Memorial Benches will add a much-needed sitting area for veterans and active military, Peninsula residents, City and Court employees, shipyard employees, etc. We had hoped that the benches would be installed in time for the City’s ONE CITY Marathon in mid-March, where the Victory Arch was the finish line, but the inclement winter weather did not cooperate. Given that situation, the City is working toward a re-dedication of the Arch later in the Spring when the space is fully upgraded with new pavers, the VPAR benches and a power-washed Arch. We will be sure to be an active part of that ceremony, and we are honored to be part of an opportunity to create a space that will be long lasting and that will enhance the REALTOR® brand. THIS IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF YOUR NAR DUES AT WORK, COMING RIGHT BACK HERE TO BE USED IN YOUR BACKYARD! TWO APPRPOVED GRANTS IN TWO MONTHS!


City of Poquoson
Make sure to join us on Friday, May 8th, from 9:00 AM until 1:30 PM at the Poquoson Yacht Club for the 3rd Annual REALTOR® DAY in POQUSON! This FREE EVENT has become a VPAR Rite of Spring, where VPAR members can be made aware of the many unique features of the City. From opening remarks by the Mayor to presentations from the City Manager, the Superintendent of Schools, the Economic Development Director and the Police Chief, come hear all that you can about Poquoson. A light breakfast and a delicious lunch are included…and so is the famous CITY MANAGER BUS TOUR! Call VPAR today to sign up for this fun- and fact-filled day! For more details, please visit:


York County
VPAR offers its congratulations to Neil Morgan, the just-appointed new County Administrator who will take the helm in mid-June. Mr. Morgan comes to York County from Virginia Tech, but prior to his academic career, he served as the City Manager of the City of Newport News for four years. Your Legislative Consultant and Mr. Morgan have a solid professional relationship, and VPAR and the County will benefit from his position as County Administrator. Mark Carter has been serving as the Interim Administrator since the sudden death last October of former Administrator Jim “Mac” McReynolds. VPAR extends its thanks and appreciation to Mr. Carter for stepping in to guide the County during a difficult time, and looks forward to working with Mr. Morgan!


On April 21st, the VPAR General Membership Meeting featured all of the Mayors, Chairs, City Managers and County Administrators from the Peninsula in a panel setting to discuss a variety of local and regional issues. Joining the VPAR leadership, Board, Public Policy Committee and many other VPAR members were Hampton Mayor George Wallace and City Manager Mary Bunting, Newport News Mayor Dr. McKinley Price and City Manager Jim Bourey, Poquoson City Manager Randy Wheeler (Mayor Gene Hunt was unable to be part of the morning as a result of a last-minute situation that required his attention) and York County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Shepperd and Interim County Administrator Mark Carter all gathered for what was a productive and informative morning. Topics up for grabs included coastal flooding and resiliency of each locality and the region, housing stock and housing opportunities, characteristics of their communities, quality of life and regional cooperation. A multitude of questions could not be answered due to time constraints, but VPAR is seeking responses from the panel in writing. So, check out the VPAR website often to see if the answer to your question has been posted!


Have you seen the bi-annual publication from NAR on smart growth, development, zoning and other housing and land-use issues? ON COMMON GROUND is published twice a year by NAR and is chock-full of information that is especially useful to local government officials as well as to REALTORS®. In efforts to continue outreach to our area governments, VPAR is hand delivering copies of the Winter 2015 issue to the municipalities in our footprint. See the link below to the current edition that focuses on urban growth, nothing that the demand for living and working in cities is higher than at any time in the past 60 years. The largest cities are becoming larger, and the central cities are seeing more growth than the suburbs. The urban reawakening is the future of our economy.
The General Assembly officially has concluded its business for 2015, having adjourned its regular Session on February 25th and its Reconvened or “Veto” Session on April 17th. All REALTOR® bills have been signed by the Governor and become effective on July 1st. The WAAR legislative delegation was very supportive and extraordinarily helpful in guiding our many bills to a successful outcome. Out of 1,638 votes on our bills, from subcommittee to full committee to the floors in both the House and Senate, not a single vote was cast against our bills. That is a 100% success rate, and that is your RPAC investment at work.

In fact, to see how your RPAC dollars will come back to you, check out RPAC by the Numbers, a helpful breakdown of how RPAC monies directly benefit you, your business and your customers.


But we’re not resting on our laurels. The work continues, and right now, we are looking towards the 2016 General Assembly Session and the bills that may need to come from our Association. If you know of issues that may require a legislative fix, now is the time to act. Please send any issues that could be included in the legislative agenda for next Session to Susan Gaston no later than June 1, 2016 so that the proper research, vetting and drafting may take place prior to sending the issue to VAR by July 1st.



NAR Testifies at Senate Banking Hearing
The U.S. Senate Banking Committee on April 17th held a hearing entitled, “Regulatory Burdens to Obtaining Mortgage Credit.” Chris Polychron, 2015 NAR President and executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, AR, testified on behalf of NAR.
CFPB Issues Mortgage Toolkit
As part of their obligations under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued an updated “Special Information Booklet” which is now known as the “Your Home Loan Toolkit.”
Fannie Mae Announces Assistance Program
Fannie Mae has announced a new program that offers 3% in closing costs assistance for first time homebuyers who purchase Fannie Mae REO properties.
3% Cap Bill Passes House
The House of Representatives passed H.R. 685, “The Mortgage Choice Act” by a vote of 286-140.
NAR Submits Comments on QM Changes
On March 30, 2015, NAR submitted comments to the CFPB on proposed changes to mortgage rules that were finalized in January of 2013.


For additional information and details on these or other issues, or to contact VPAR’s Legislative Consultant, Susan Gaston, directly, email or call 757-871-1445.