2017 REALTORS® Annual Legislative Meetings

 

This post will be updated daily throughout the meetings.

Recap from Day 5 — May 20, 2017

The NAR Legislative Meetings wrapped up with a Board of Directors meeting.

Day 5 collage

Recap from Day 4 — May 19, 2017

Day 4 of the NAR Legislative meetings was busy for BRR leaders and staff. They attended a number of meetings including the Issues Mobilization Grant Workshop and Forum, Government Affairs Director meeting, a financial planning class, and the Region 12 Caucus in which Julie DeLorenzo presided as the Regional Vice President.

Day 4 collage

Recap from Day 3 — May 18, 2017

BRR leaders and staff spent Day 3 of the NAR Legislative Meetings working in NAR committee meetings, taking a tour of the Capital building, and watching Congress in session. Congressman Simpson presided as Chairman of the session, and they were able to watch every member of Congress cast vote from their front row view!

Day 3 collage

 

Recap from Day 2 — May 17, 2017

NAR Senior Vice President of Government Affairs & Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello lead the discussion with expert panelists on tax reform and flood insurance. Chris Wallace of Fox News spoke on “America Under President Trump.” BRR and IR representatives met with Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson and Senator Jim Risch. BRR Vice President Phil Mount discussed government-sponsored enterprise reform with Senator Mike Crapo during their visit today.

Day 2 collage

 

Recap from Day 1 — May 16, 2017

Dr. Ben Carson spoke at the regulatory issues forum, Roy Wright from FEMA discussed national flood insurance issues, Kit Fitzgerald and Connie Fogle represented Idaho during the NAR Presidents Cup recognition. #NARLegislative #REALTORParty

Day 1 collage

 

2017 REALTORS® Annual Legislative Meetings — May 10, 2017

Next week, leaders and staff from BRR will be attending the National Association of REALTORS® Annual Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C. The purpose of this important conference is threefold: advocacy, committee service, and networking.

First, for REALTORS® from around the country to share issues important to our industry, communities, and consumers with U.S. Senators and Representatives. Three key issues to be discussed include tax reform, the reauthorization of the national flood insurance program, and ways to protect sustainable homeownership. Talking points for each are available here and will be the basis for meetings that Idaho REALTORS® will be having with Idaho Senators Crapo and Risch, and Representatives Labrador and Simpson while in D.C.

Second, to serve on national committees and workgroups, helping shape policy and initiatives to benefit members. From Idaho, there are 16 REALTORS® who serve on committees, as well as four staff members, including BRR Chief Executive Officer Breanna Vanstrom. You can see a full list of those serving on national committees at NAR.realtor (login required).

And third, to network with dedicated real estate professionals from around the country, sharing best practices and bringing new ideas back to our local association. There are structured networking sessions focused on association management, leadership ideas, and brokerage management, as well as the informal networking that happens between sessions, at educational programs, and during the trade show. The Legislative Meetings are open to all REALTORS®, so if you’re not able to attend this year, please consider it for 2018.

Stay up-to-date on the Legislative Meetings by following the NAR Legislative Live Blog.

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®.

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

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