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.