Agenda Summary National Association of REALTORS® 2011 REALTORS® Conference Anaheim Hilton & Towers Capistrano Room Concourse Level, 4th Floor Friday, November 11, 2011 1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Chair: Ellen Renish, East Norriton, PA Vice Chair: Lance Lacy, San Angelo, TX Committee Liaison: Tom Salomone, Coral Springs, FL Committee Executive: Darren Smith, Washington, DC I. Call to Order A. Welcome – Ellen Renish, Chair B. Introductions, 2012 Committee Leadership C. Ownership and Conflict of Interest Policy D. 2011 RPAC 100% Committee Challenge
II. Approval of Previous Meeting's Minutes
III. Unfinished Business A. Transportation Policy Update (Abigail Thorne-Lyman, Reconnecting America; Ryan Wiggins, Transportation for America Coalition) Federal transportation spending authorization expired in September 2009. It has been temporarily extended several times since then and after the latest extension is currently set to expire on March 31, 2012. In the meantime, the Highway Trust Fund has become insolvent as revenues are not keeping up with committed expenditures, and Congress has had to provide billions from general funds to meet current obligations.
Improvements to infrastructure enhance property values. Traffic congestion imposes costs throughout the economy. Further constraints on funding for transportation projects of all types, particularly those that contribute to walkable, stable, and vibrant neighborhoods, may negatively affect property values and inhibit development.
NAR supports the general thrust of the current transportation authorization ("SAFETEA-LU"), however we believe more needs to be done to level the playing field with respect to funding highways versus transit and other modes. We believe transportation plans should reflect a broad community vision, considering the needs of all transportation users, and should emphasize repair and maintenance over development of new capacity. In addition, NAR supports a modest increase in the federal motor fuel tax and annual adjustments for inflation.
NAR has been working as a member of the Transportation for America coalition to shape the next authorization bill and to build support within the coalition for NAR's policies such as increasing fuel taxes, increasing funding for public transportation, and transportation planning that addresses the needs of all transportation users. With a new authorization likely not to include any overall funding increases or new revenue sources, however, the coalition will be seeking to protect existing programs and structures that ensure that at least some federal transportation money is spent on non-highway projects, and where possible, seek policy and/or regulatory changes that could improve the prospects of alternative modes (e.g. “Complete Streets” requirements that would ensure accommodation of all modes in all road projects).
Through the coalition, we have been participating in discussions with staff of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senate Banking Committee (which has jurisdiction over transit programs). Coalition spokespersons have appeared as witnesses at congressional committee hearings, and will continue to do so as discussion of transportation reauthorization proceeds.
a. Infrastructure Banks/Credit Enhancement Discussion (Darren Smith) At a time of severe budget problems at the state and local level, many jurisdictions are finding it increasingly difficult to provide roads, schools, and other infrastructure needed to accommodate a growing population.
As citizens demand a broader range of services from their local governments, and as the costs of maintaining and expanding infrastructure rise, governments are looking for ways to satisfy competing demands. Driven by crisis, many state and local governments now seek alternatives to traditional ways of financing and managing infrastructure.
B. Land Use Initiative Update (Darren Smith) NAR’s Land Use Initiative is a program designed to assist state and local REALTOR® associations in their public policy advocacy of land use issues. Upon request, NAR will provide expert analysis of the legal, planning, economic, and environmental issues surrounding legislative and regulatory land use proposals. The initiative has helped state and local REALTOR® associations across the country deal with a variety of land use and Smart Growth issues. NAR, with the law firm of Robinson & Cole, LLP has provided guidance and expert opinion on over 200 different legislative and regulatory issues that affect the interest of REALTORS®.
C. Water Infrastructure Toolkit Update (Darren Smith) REALTORS® are in a unique position when it comes to water infrastructure issues. They see the situation from all sides, whether it’s fighting for water rights for a development; keeping on top of local, state, and federal regulations so they can inform their customers; or tracking the effect of water availability on the value of area real estate. Real estate professionals often find themselves in the thick of water battles, and must explain local water requirements to property buyers and answer their questions about water supply and quality.
D. Rental Restrictions White Paper (Brian Blaesser, Robinson & Cole LLP) In several areas around the country, local governments are seeking to regulate short-term rental housing in various ways. This white paper, prepared by NAR consultant Robinson & Cole LLP, analyzes the issues raised by these different regulatory approaches; provides Realtors® with ways to address these issues, and outlines "best practices" approaches to short-term rental housing that Realtors® can use in discussing the issue with local government officials.
E. Private Transfer Fees Update (Brian Blaesser, Robinson & Cole LLP) Developers, home owners associations and private individuals are recording deed restrictions requiring the payment of a percentage of the proceeds of future property sales back to the developer, HOA or individual.
Private transfer fees are another potential obstacle to closing, are a possible source of liability for Realtors, and could create title problems and litigation.
The National Association of REALTORS® opposes private real estate transfer fees. NAR believes such fees decrease affordability, serve no public purpose, and provide no benefit to property purchasers, or the community in which the property is located. Exceptions are fees paid to homeowner associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and other tax-exempt organizations that use the proceeds to benefit the property - NAR does not object to such fees.
Because private transfer fee deed restrictions are often difficult to discover, and, therefore, disclose prior to a transaction, REALTORS® risk liability issues. In addition, deed restrictions imposing private real estate transfer fees will position affected properties at a disadvantage in the marketplace, and may well undermine economic stability.
NAR encourages the enactment of statutes, ordinances, or regulations which would prohibit the use of deed restrictions for the purpose of imposing private transfer fees.
Further, in communities where private transfer fees currently exist, the National Association of REALTORS® urges their repeal and opposition to any increases. Legislative/Regulatory Status/Outlook
During the 2011 state legislative season, sixteen additional states enacted laws prohibiting private transfer fees in most situations, bringing the total as of September 2011 to 34 states. Prohibition bills were also introduced in 2011 in an additional eight states. More information on these efforts can be found in the NAR State Issues Tracker.
At the federal level, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has proposed guidance to restrict GSEs from investing in mortgages with private transfer fee covenants. The proposed rule factors in the thousands of comments submitted to the FHFA from various concerned individuals and organizations in response to the FHFA’s previous proposed guidance on private transfer fees. The newly proposed rule would limit Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks from dealing in mortgages that have private transfer fees covenants attached to the properties. Existing fee covenants would be grandfathered in so as not to create an entire group of existing homes for which buyers would not be able to get a loan.
F. Broker Price Opinion Update (Darren Smith) With the changing real estate landscape and the increased use of broker price opinions (BPOs) by market participants, the National Association of Realtors® has launched a new certification, BPO Resource, recognizing Realtors® who have completed NAR’s new BPO education program.
G. Internet Sales Tax Update (Darren Smith) In the late 1990's, as the Internet was gaining traction, some state governments imposed telecommunications taxes on Internet dial-up services. Congress believed this was an inappropriate tax that could harm a fledgling industry and banned state and local governments from imposing taxes on Internet access.
IV. New Business A. State Issues Tracking (Jim Seidl, Legal Research Center, Inc.) Most governmental issues of importance to real estate brokers and agents are regulated at the state government level. While the number of issues that could affect real estate or REALTORS® is infinite and constantly changing, there is a small number of core issues that are perennially issues of concern to our industry. NAR, through use of a consultant, tracks and analyzes these core issues, such as the law of Agency, License Reciprocity, and Seller Disclosure requirements. The analysis, presented in this interactive, searchable database, permits the user to make comparisons among different state approaches to an issue and includes citations of the particular state law addressing each issue.
B. Point of Sale Requirements Discussion (Ellen Renish) a. CO Detectors Issue in Pennsylvania