Monthly Archives: December 2015

Infographic: Desire to Buy Strong Despite Affordability, Economic Concerns

Although only half of surveyed households believe the economy is currently improving, nearly all young renters eventually want to buy a home, and a convincing majority still view homeownership as part of their American Dream, according to a new quarterly consumer survey released by the National Association of Realtors®.

NAR’s inaugural quarterly household survey, Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME), tracks topical real estate trends.

HOME Survey

Illinois REALTORS® Douse Fire Sprinkler Mandate

Illinois REALTORS® fought off government overreach when it fired up its membership to defeat a costly mandate on fire sprinklers.

The Illinois fire marshal launched a campaign to require fire sprinklers in all new construction single-family homes, older condo buildings.

What was intended as a consumer safety measure turned out to be an expensive regulation that could have tacked another $10,000 onto the cost of a home.

In addition, condo owners in some parts of the city would have seen their monthly assessments increase and their condo values decrease as special assessments might have been passed to pay for sprinkler retrofits.

Illinois REALTORS® argued for transparency and urged the full legislature to take up the issue, rather than a small special committee. They were able to secure a pledge by the state’s fire marshal that no sprinkler mandate would be sought without first going through the full legislature.

REALTORS® chalk this one up as a victory, leaving the decision to retrofit or to add costly sprinklers up to the property owners in many cases, not the government.

Local Cesspools Are a Housing Issue in Hawaii

There are about 90,000 cesspools in Hawaii receiving wastewater. The state’s Department of Health wants to shut them down and convert to a public sewer system or septic system, but local REALTORS® oppose the conversion because it will affect housing affordability.

The Hawaii Association of REALTORS® states that if implemented, the proposal would have a chilling effect on local housing: They predict lenders will exclude cesspool properties, impacting housing affordability.

About 38% of Hawaii residents are not served by a centralized wastewater treatment plant, according to the state Department of Health. These residents rely on local or individual systems such cesspools, which receive raw sewage but do not treat it. Septic systems are another common small-scale option, but one that allows for basic treatment of the wastewater.

Transitioning from cesspool to septic can cost up to $15,000—a significant additional cost in an already expensive housing market, said Mary Begier, principal broker and owner of Mary Begier Realty in Hilo, HI.

Hawaii REALTORS® are organizing a statewide coalition of affected homeowners, contractors, landowners, developers and farmers who also oppose the proposal. They plan to petition the state governor for support.

Hawaii’s Big Island has the most cesspools—nearly 50,000—followed by Kauai with 14,000 and Maui with 12,000. Most are in remote areas without access to a public sewer system.

How REALTORS Are Watching Out for You and Future Homeowners

Fast Fact: The National Association of REALTORS® Issues Mobilization grants help keep you and your neighbors aware and informed about public policy changes that would impact your wallet and your home.

Too often, legislators target homeowners when seeking to fund federal programs. Even recently,some tried to put the financial burden of highway and transportation programs on the backs of homeowners.

A proposal in Congress would have diverted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s guarantee fees (sometimes called “G fees”) to pay for these long overdue national highway and transportation improvements. Each time G fees are used for unrelated government spending, America’s homeowners wind up paying more for their mortgages and America’s taxpayers are exposed to additional unnecessary risk.

The National Association of REALTORS® opposed this attempt through its Call-For-Action program, pursuant to which Realtors® around the country stood up and spoke out on your behalf, telling members of Congress that guarantee fees are meant to insure mortgages — not pay for highway and transportation problems.

But NAR isn’t just working to address Realtor® issues at the national level. For over two decades, NAR has funded the Issues Mobilization Program, helping your State and Local REALTOR® Associations raise awareness and educate consumers and members of Congress about critical policy issues that impact state and local communities just like yours.

The Issue Mobilization program provides your State and Local REALTOR® Associations with the financial and technical assistance needed closer to home, in order to conduct local public policy opinion polls and economic studies, and supports initiatives to pass laws that protect you and your home’s value.

What Are Some Examples of Successful Local Efforts?

  • North Carolina: Opposition to a proposed real estate transfer tax increase that would have cost homeowners millions of dollars.
  • Columbia Missouri: Opposition to a proposed local ordinance that would have negatively impacted homeowners’ private property rights.
  • Arizona: Passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting real estate transfer taxes, saving homeowners and would-be homeowners millions of dollars.
  • Palm Beach,Florida.: Defeated a millage rate increase that would have made Port St. Lucie one of the most highly taxed municipalities in Florida.

Tell us what you think, or ask a question about the National Association of REALTORS® Issues Mobilization initiatives, and the important role your state and local REALTOR® associations play in protecting your home and wallet.Email asktheexpert@shariolefson.com

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