REALTORS® Announce 2016 Endorsements

Boise Regional REALTORS® is pleased to announce its upcoming elections endorsements, for November 8th.  A committee of volunteers comprised of REALTORS® and Affiliate members, the Political Affairs Committee, reviewed upcoming ballot issues and a number of local election races to determine this election cycle’s endorsements.  After careful review of candidate interviews and issue presentations, the Political Affairs Committee made the following endorsements of candidates and ballot issues:

  • TJ Thomson – Ada County Commissioner District 2 (4 year term)
  • David Eberle – ACHD District 2 (4 year term)
  • Sara Baker – ACHD District 5 (4 year term)
  • Support – W.A.R.D. (West Ada Recreation District) Aquatics Centers Bond Initiative

“Each election cycle we have the privilege of giving our association and industry a voice on key issues and political races,” said Phil Mount, Chair of the Political Affairs Committee.  “This year was no different from previous years, where a committee of volunteers with diverse backgrounds and political party affiliations join together as the REALTOR® Party to determine the best course of action for endorsements.”

Speaking to the decision-making process, Boise Regional REALTORS® President Carey Farmer stated, “We are proud of the thoughtful deliberation and selection process, and also thankful for the time spent by our members to determine who the REALTOR® Party should support this election.  Committee members took time away from their businesses and family, to ensure our industry continues to have a voice in the community’s future.”

Elections will be held on Tuesday, November 8th.  For information on registration and where to vote, please visit http://www.idahovotes.gov/ or https://adacounty.id.gov/elections/.

Call for Action: Urge Senate to Pass H.R. 3700

CFA-H.R. 3700 Condo Financing

RPAC SUPPORTS… Homeownership Opportunities

Take Action Now

Condominiums are often the most affordable homeownership option for first-time buyers, small families, single people, and older Americans. Unfortunately, current FHA regulations prevent many buyers from purchasing condos, harm homeowners who need to sell, and limit the ability to attract resident buyers.

Ask your U.S. Senators to pass the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act” to:

  • Reduce owner-occupancy ratio to 35%;
  • Allow lenders to approve condos with commercial space over 25%;
  • Require HUD Secretary to “substantially reduce” burdens on condo recertification; and,
  • Require FHA to mirror the FHFA rules related to private transfer fees.

Why you should care… Your condo buyers and sellers may find a property is ineligible for FHA financing, restricting the pool of buyers.

While our local market doesn’t have a lot of condo product (in part because of the current restrictions) if passed, this new legislation may encourage condo construction and help sell those condos that are currently on the market.   Especially important as condos are often an affordable option for first time buyers and others which we certainly need throughout the region (condos are 27% less expensive than single family homes).

Take Action Today!

REALTORS® Travel to Washington D.C. to Advocate for Housing and Property Rights

Earlier this month, leaders from Boise Regional REALTORS® (BRR) traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. Senators Michael Crapo and James Risch, and U.S. Representatives Raul Labrador and Michael Simpson, to discuss pressing housing and property rights issues as part of the National Association of REALTORS® 2016 Legislative Meetings.

Idaho REALTORS® Meet with Sen. Jim Risch in Washington, D.C.

Photo Caption: Idaho REALTORS® Meet with Sen. Jim Risch in Washington, D.C.
Photo Source: Idaho REALTORS®

“It is imperative to connect with our lawmakers to ensure they understand the issues that face the real estate industry, markets and their constituents — many of whom are home and property owners. REALTORS® are on the ground every day fighting for home and property owners in their communities, and we demonstrated we will do the same here in our nation’s Capitol with our elected officials,” said Boise Regional REALTORS® President Carey Farmer, who attended the meetings. “Supporting homeowners and property owners through smart legislation is so important for families, communities and the nation’s economy, so we will continue to work with lawmakers to ensure they are protected.”

 

Idaho REALTORS® at Meeting with Sen. Mike Simpson in Washington, D.C.

Photo Caption: Idaho REALTORS® at Meeting with Sen. Mike Simpson in Washington, D.C.
Photo Source: Idaho REALTORS®

The group from BRR was among the nearly 9,000 REALTORS® from across the country who attended the meetings. During visits to the Hill, REALTORS® urged their Senators and Representatives to preserve current real estate-related tax policies; extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act, which prevents distressed homeowners from receiving excessive income tax bills on forgiven home loan debt; reform key Federal Housing Administration (FHA) condo rules; and, ensure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage guarantee fees are not extended, increased, or diverted to unrelated government spending.

“Congress is considering legislation that will have a very real impact on the industry, market and buyers and sellers, so it is important our elected officials hear from us,” said Farmer. “Through the voice and strength of the REALTOR® Party, we made it clear where we stand on key issues that affect home and property buyers, sellers and investors right here in the Boise region. That’s the benefit of coming together and speaking with one voice to our nation’s lawmakers.”

Additional information on the federal, state and local advocacy priorities of the REALTORS® Associations are available here:

2016 Idaho Legislative Review

As Idaho’s economy continued to strengthen, education was one of the top priorities of the 2016 Idaho Legislature and the Governor’s Office. Funding for education was increased 7.4% for K-12 and 8% for colleges and universities.  Although there is more work to be done, this was a tremendous increase after the cuts that took place during the recession.

Issues pertaining to real estate and housing were also part of the 2016 session.  Several new laws were passed affecting the Homeowner’s Exemption, Homeowner’s Associations and Urban Renewal Agencies.

HB431: Homeowner’s Exemption

In March, BRR shared about the passage of HB431, which set the Homeowner’s Exemption amount at $100,000 or up to 50% of the home’s value, rather than tying the exemption to the Federal Housing Price Index.  Over the past 10 years, the Idaho Homeowner’s Exemption has been as high as $104,471 and as low as $81,000, due to fluctuations in the Index.  This created volatility and instability in our tax policy.   When home prices were falling and people were struggling to make payments, they saw their property taxes go up.  The set exemption amount of $100,000, as outlined in HB431, aims to stabilize the Exemption, create a predictable tax base and provide certainty to homeowners and others who own real property in all categories.

HB511: “Right to Rent”

This new law protects homeowners’ “right to rent” their property. Homeowner’s Associations must continue to allow homeowners to rent their property if it was allowed in the CC&R’s when the property was purchased.  This prevents HOAs from changing the rules after the purchase of a home, while still allowing for enforcement of any issues associated with the rental including noise, parking or other concerns.   HOAs are allowed to prohibit rentals, but only for homes purchased after the rule goes into effect. This law stemmed from a case in Valley County where a homeowner rented their vacation home to help cover the mortgage. The HOA amended their rules and subsequently fined the home owner over $13,000 for violating the new CC&Rs.  HB511 protects private property rights, while still allowing HOAs to protect the character of their neighborhood and home values.

SB1317: HOA Attorney’s Fees

Addressing the issue of attorneys sending demand letters to HOA residents on behalf of the Board with a bill for services, SB1317 states attorney fees for HOAs can only be assessed through a judicial action by a court of competent jurisdiction. In 2015 the law was changed to stop exorbitant fines. Some law firms simply started charging attorney’s fees instead of fines. This new law protects homeowners from demand letters billing for services.

HB606aa: Urban Renewal

Urban Renewal Districts are possibly one of the most important tools for economic development we have in Idaho.  During this session legislation was passed to modernize Urban Renewal Districts.  The legislation: allows local governments to decide on whether Board members should be elected; requires a vote if urban renewal dollars are used to finance more than 50% of a public building; addresses concerns about resetting the tax base if an agency plan is amended; and also creates a repository at the Idaho State Tax Commission of all Urban Renewal plans. BRR works with Urban Renewal Districts on a regular basis to improve the quality of our communities.  Protecting the urban renewal district tool is vital to our region.

Boise Regional REALTORS®, as well as the state Association and RPAC, continue to work on behalf of homeowners and REALTORS® by focusing on issues important to home ownership and the real estate industry. The Idaho Primary Election is Tuesday, May 17th. Learn which candidates received the endorsement of Boise Regional REALTORS®, Idaho REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS®.

Do you have questions or want to chat about the session or the upcoming election? Contact Miguel Legarreta, Director of Public Policy at Boise Regional REALTORS®.

Idaho Homeowner’s Exemption Aims to Create Stable Tax Base

On Tuesday, March 8th the Idaho Senate voted to approve HB431 sending it to the Governor’s desk for signing into law. The bill changes the Idaho Homeowner’s Exemption to a set amount of $100,000, rather than tying it to the Federal Housing Price Index.

What is the Federal Housing Price Index?

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) which manages the index, “The HPI is a broad measure of the movement of single-family house prices. The HPI is a weighted, repeat-sales index, meaning that it measures average price changes in repeat sales or refinancings on the same properties.” However, due to how the Index is calculated, there is an 18-month lag in reflecting actual economic conditions.  Therefore, when there are drastic changes in the market—as we experienced in 2008—the Index is not an accurate reflection of prices. Additionally the current tax law shifts the property tax between the different property categories. For example, when residential taxes are up agriculture, commercial, utilities, and other property types have lower taxes. Then when taxes for these categories are down, residential taxes go up.

Who gets a Homeowner’s Exemption?

As the Homeowner’s Exemption currently works, each owner-occupied primary residence (house or manufactured home) and up to one acre of land is eligible for a Homeowner’s Exemption. To qualify, applicants must own, occupy, and use the dwelling as of January 1 but before April 15. The annual deadline for applying for the Homeowner’s Exemption is 5:00 p.m. on April 15th. The exemption allows a maximum of 50 percent of the value, regardless of price, of the primary residence and up to one acre of land to be exempted from property taxes.

Where do I learn more about the Idaho Homeowner’s Exemption?

The Idaho State Tax Commission is the best resource for homeowner’s interested in learning more about Exemption. On its “Homeowners & Property Tax” page, the Commission explains how the Exemption works now, without the set amount: “Since taxes are based on the budgets of taxing districts, those districts can budget the same amount from property tax from one year to the next, but when property values go down, the levy rate goes up automatically to compensate. If one property’s value increases more than others, its taxes go up faster than others.”

Over the past 10 years, the Idaho Homeowner’s Exemption has been as high as $104,471 and as low as $81,000,due to fluctuations in the Index. The exemption amount for 2016 is $94,745.

Home Value Current Exemption Amount New Exemption Amount
$100,000 $50,000 $50,000
$200,000 $94,745 $100,000
$500,000 $94,745 $100,000
If decreasing 18-month lag in decrease $100,000

 

Going forward, the set exemption amount of $100,000, as outlined in HB431, aims to stabilize the Exemption, create a predictable tax base and provide certainty to homeowners and others who own real property in all categories.

Key points to remember:

  • Idaho is just one of a handful of states that provides a homeowner’s exemption.
  • The $100,000 exemption is actually higher than what we have currently, and higher than what most other states with an exception offer.
  • Both current and future exemptions are capped at 50% of a home’s value, regardless of that price.

Still have questions? Contact Miguel Legarreta, Director of Public Policy at Boise Regional REALTORS®.

Stop Patent Trolls – Avoid Future Lawsuits

REALTORS® across the country receive threatening demand letters and lawsuits alleging patent infringement based on the use of common business tools such as drop down menus or search alert functions on websites and the scanner function on a copier. These patent trolls buy vague patents and use them to turn everyday business practices into potential lawsuits. TAKE ACTION NOW

How does it work? Patent trolls -– or, to call them by a less disparaging name, “patent assertion entity” –- is a person or group who tries to enforce patent rights against infringers in an attempt to collect fees, but who doesn’t actually produce any product or technology related to that patent. A patent troll might buy a patent from a bankrupt company, then sue another company, claiming that one of its products infringes on the patent.

IS MOBILE YOUR THING? GET THE REALTOR®PARTY MOBILE APP BY TEXTING “APP” TO 30644

When there is a Call for Action, you will receive a standard push notification alerting you. The mobile action alert allows you to take action immediately. The new mobile action alert format will make your participation a snap!

ACAR Legislative Wrap Up

It’s already more than half way through the year and ACAR has been working on a number community involvement and public policy programs.

ACAR led a campaign to support the passage a bond for the West Ada School District that brought $96 million in needed funds to build 4 new schools and renovate a high school.  After failing last summer the supermajority bond passed with 71% approval, relieving overcrowding in elementary, middle and high schools throughout Ada County.

ACAR has been meeting with the College of Western Idaho on their plans on expansion in Ada County and downtown Boise (we were also very pleased to have CWI Trustee and former IR CEO Mark Dunham present at our 59 Minute meeting).  In 2007, we were very supportive of the original bond campaign to create the college and which has seen remarkable growth to over 20,000 students (more than any community college in the history of community colleges).   REALTORS recognize education is vital to ensure a healthy environment for education and business.

This year ACAR has worked with the city of Meridian on downtown redevelopment and planning through a placemaking project that was highlighted by NAR .  Additionally, we are working on several other community projects that add value to homes and that improves communities we live and work.  Our work as a whole received national attention by NAR, as we were awarded the 1st ever Community Outreach Award.

The Idaho Legislature adjourned on April 10th (with a special one-day session on May 18th).   There were several impactful issues on the table including additional funding for transportation and education.   Funding in education included increases in teacher pay to make salaries more competitive in addition to ensuring adequate broadband/internet connectivity to students throughout Idaho.   Overall, public schools received a 7.4% increase, colleges and universities received a 3% increase, and professional-technical education received a 5.9% increase.

In addition, the Legislature addressed growing concerns about the condition of roads and bridges by increasing funding through registration fees ($21) and fuel tax (7 cents). These funds are utilized through a 60-40 split between the State Highway Account and local units of government and provides for about $136 million of the $540 million dollar annual shortfall.

Some of the issues concerning REALTORS and real estate include:

Several pieces of legislation passed by the Idaho Real Estate Commission, including cleaning up real estate statute (spelling, errors), changing the certification period for education providers, and clarifying an agent must be the owner of an LLC if they want to be paid through an LLC.

In response to ongoing debate over Urban Renewal Agencies, an Urban Renewal Study Committee was authorized to study urban renewal plans and issues and addressing concerns such as more sideboards and transparency.  ACAR works with a number of Urban Renewal Agencies on economic development, so this issue is important related to economic development.

There were several land use planning bills, but only one passed which prohibits the use of eminent domain by local government for obtaining land for greenbelts and trails, preferring the use of eminent domain for roadways.

There was a rule change by the Idaho Tax Commission clarifying the Homeowners Exemption as follows;

Part Year Ownership. For qualifying taxpayers who claimed the homeowner’s exemption on an eligible property, the homestead that qualified on January 1 of the current tax year shall continue to receive the exemption, provided however, the assessor may remove that property’s exemption if, by April 15 of the tax year, the taxpayer owns a different homestead and requests that the exemption be transferred to the second homestead.

For additional details on passed legislation download the Idaho REALTORS 2015 Session Wrap Up.

It has been a very productive year for real estate and real estate issues, we will continue to protect your business, enhance the communities we live and improve opportunities for home ownership

Ada County REALTORS Support West Ada School District Bond

West Ada School District BoundariesWhat: The West Ada School District proposal is for a $96 million dollar bond to pay for:

✔$30 million for a new middle school south of I-84, reducing overcrowding at Lake Hazel Middle School

✔$30 million for a new middle school in Star, reducing overcrowding at Eagle Middle School

✔$10 million for a new elementary school south of I-84

✔$24 million to complete expansion of Meridian High School, reducing overcrowding at Mountain View High School and Rocky Mountain High School

✔$2 million for a future high school

✔And ZERO increase to property tax rates!  Rates can stay the same because of new construction and increased property values.

Why: REALTORS® support strong communities.  Schools like Eagle Middle School, Heritage Middle School, Lake Hazel Middle School and our elementary schools are overcrowded and over capacity. Our kids need to be able to go to schools that can give them the best education possible.

Do you live in the West Ada School District?

Election Day is next Tuesday, March 10th, polls are open from 8am to 8pm at your regular polling location.   To find out where to vote: https://adacounty.id.gov/elections/

Early voting open now through March 6, 2015

Ada County Elections Office, located at 400 N. Benjamin Ln. Suite 100, Boise, Idaho Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

New House Leadership in Washington DC

There has been some major shifts in DC  following the loss by Majority Leader Cantor; a new Majority Leader and Majority Whip were elected by secret ballot yesterday.   Please find below a few articles which lay out the tenor of the leadership race, and who the new team is.   NAR has solid relationships with both Congressman McCarthy and Congressman Scalise, so our issues remain at the forefront within the leadership team.

REALTOR Legislation -Your Business

S1206: IREC Licensing (S1206) IRECs changes to education requirements, which we supported, education, requires the CORE Course every year (while keeping the overall hours necessary to renew the same).  In concert with this legislation there is a separate Rule which allows for expanded Courses relating to business development to be eligible for CE.   This gives REALTORS an opportunity to improve their personal business skills and receive CE credit, something our members stressed as important.

Homeowners Associations (H1310) Currently Home Owners Associations enforce covenants and restrictions in subdivisions by fining home owners for violations of such covenants and comply.  This bill puts some requirements in place that protect the home owner from actions by having the Homeowners Association Board meet and the homeowner notified and given time to act in good faith to correct the problem.  The issue was fines being issued without due process and in some cases for profiteering as opposed to being a tool to correct an action.  This REALTORS opposed the legislation because they thought it would make the process more difficult (they have some property managers who manage Associations on their Board).   Unfortunately there are some unscrupulous managers who profit from those fines and put homeowners in a very bad position, this fixes those cases.

Homeowners Exemption for Military Personnel (H584) Allows for the continuation of the homeowners exemption to military members who are sent to other parts of the country for training etc.  This has been a problem for some time and I’ve heard from a number of members who have clients deployed to non-combat zones and lose the exemption.

Cloud Tax Bill (H598) this is a revision of last year’s bill that restricted the Idaho Tax Commission from taxing Cloud based services such as the MLS and Forms and other business to business software.  The Tax Commission continued to consider taxing these Cloud based services, this is will clarify, with no uncertainty, what is taxable.

Exemption Value for Homeowners Exemption (H594) This legislation removes the index on the Idaho homestead exemption, and places the exemption value at $90,000 or 50 percent of assessed value, whichever is less.  We are still working on changing the April 15th date for filing, but we are starting with setting the number at $90,000 to avoid tax shifts and create consistency for homeowners (the number can still be changed in the future but the index being used created issues including tax bills going up when home values were going down).

 

Questions: Miguel Legarreta, miguel@myacar.com

Director of Public Policy