Monthly Archives: September 2018

Poll: Are Highly-Rated Schools Important to Homebuyers?

New findings from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) show that the quality of schools is a critical factor in deciding whether or not to buy a home.

Homeowners and non-homeowners were asked how important high rated schools are in their home buying decision. Over two-thirds of those surveyed said that highly rated schools were either very or somewhat important in their decision.

When asked about what considerations were taken into account when choosing a new neighborhood, 25 percent of respondents ranked proximity to friends and family as most important, followed by proximity to their job and a short commute (24 percent). Proximity to friends and family is most important to those in rural areas (31 percent) compared to suburban and urban (25 and 21 percent respectively).

Which of the following would be important to you when choosing a new neighborhood?

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“When you buy a home, you do not just buy the house; you buy a community – neighbors, parks, stores and schools,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall.

These results come from NAR’s quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey. The survey tracks topical real estate trends, including current renters and homeowners’ views and aspirations regarding homeownership, whether or not it’s a good time to buy or sell a home, and expectations and experiences in the mortgage market.

Philadelphians Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act

Joseph Rey woke up one Saturday morning intent on going outside and playing in his Hunting Park neighborhood in Philadelphia.

Except, he was told he wasn’t allowed to go outside and play. Not because he was being punished for something he had done, but rather because he was being sheltered for something terrible that had happened the night before.

Joseph wasn’t allowed outside because there was blood on the street in front of his house, the result of violence that had taken place overnight.

Joseph was five years old. The year was 1973. His neighborhood didn’t take kindly to ethnic diversity at the time. Joseph’s parents were Cuban. They fled their homeland in the 1960s to get away from the tyrannical rule of Fidel Castro and headed toward Philadelphia, where Joseph’s great uncle lived, looking for a better life.

But Joseph’s parents saw a neighborhood where it wasn’t necessarily good to be different. Racial tension was high. There were families living on his street who vehemently disliked one another.

That’s when Joseph’s father decided enough was enough and he needed to save up enough money to buy his first home. He was a 46-year-old immigrant. He had never owned a home before. But thanks to the Fair Housing Act, he was able to move his family from Hunting Park to the Olney section of Philadelphia in 1975.

Joseph was sad. He was leaving his friends, including the Santiago family who lived on his street.

Three months after the Reys left Hunting Park, the Santiago house was firebombed. Five people died, including four children – some of which were friends of Joseph Rey.

“When Joe was making his remarks, the place just came to a standstill and everyone had a chance to really take in what he was saying. It was powerful.”

Nearly 43 years later, Rey stood in front of the Philadelphia City Council and told that story. Now president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of REALTORS® (GPAR), Rey talked about how the Fair Housing Act could well have saved the lives of him and his family. Maybe they would have been the next target after the Santiago family in that Hunting Park neighborhood if his father was not afforded the opportunity to buy his first home in a different community.

“The gravity of his words at that City Council session was gripping,” said Matthew Braden, CEO of GPAR. “A City Council session is usually a beehive of activity, no matter who is speaking, but when Joe was making his remarks, the place just came to a standstill and everyone had a chance to really take in what he was saying. It was powerful.”

Rey was asked to speak at the City Council session, which took place last April, because Council was about to unanimously pass a resolution declaring April Fair Housing Month in Philadelphia and commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. The resolution was introduced by Councilman-at-large Allan Domb, who happens to be a member of GPAR.

Rey continued to tell stories about how diverse neighborhoods, now considered a highlighted staple of Philadelphia, was not something that was considered desirable as recently as 40 years ago.

“Fights and violence based upon race were common,” Rey told those in attendance in the packed Council chambers. “Korean street signs were torn down, bricks were thrown through our big picture window at a family gathering one summer because we were speaking another language.

“Later in life, I am proud to say that other language helped me sell many homes in that neighborhood, which is where I first started practicing real estate. I am proud to say most of my sales were to the protected classes of the Fair Housing Act we are now celebrating. In fact, that neighborhood, Olney, is now the most linguistically diverse in all of Pennsylvania. How ironic.”

At Philadelphia City Hall

This event, inside Philadelphia’s iconic City Hall, was the third in a trio of affairs in which GPAR participated in order to promote Fair Housing education and awareness and to also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.

The first focused on the LGBTQ community at a panel discussion hosted by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The discussion took place last March and was facilitated by Sandy Smith, a popular journalist for Philadelphia Magazine.

“It was well-attended and there was a robust conversation,” Braden said. “People walked away with various nuggets to raise awareness or be better REALTORS®.”

The second was a workshop in April in which GPAR partnered with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) targeted specifically on commemorating the Fair Housing Act anniversary.

Held at Temple University’s Real Estate Institute, the crowd included REALTORS®, students in Temple’s Real Estate School as well as the general public.

The key note speaker was Melody Taylor from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The other speakers were Rue Landau, Executive Director, and Pamela Gwaltney, Deputy Director, of PCHR, and Beverly D. Chandran, a GPAR member. The discussion revolved around the Fair Housing Act, the dos and don’ts relating to fair housing and specific rules and regulations relating to Philadelphia’s Fair Housing Practice that has a wider implication and impact on fair housing.

“The city of Philadelphia is a beautiful mosaic of neighborhoods,” Braden said. “Those neighborhoods are different and unique because of our history of immigrants coming into our city to make a new life. The best thing about Philly is its diversity.

“While there are still challenges, it makes us rich and complex. We are a strong city with a backbone, and that’s why fair housing makes us stronger here. We may be imperfect, but we always have a want and desire to be better. Our diversity committee is vibrant and active and challenges our Association to be the best version of itself. We need to continue to embrace that diversity for the next 50 years, and beyond.”

Louisville Brings Attention to The Benefits of Fair Housing

Members and REALTORS® of the Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS® (GLAR) are dedicated to helping everyone find a place to call home – without barriers.

That’s why they have spent 2018 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act by reminding everyone in the Louisville area the important message that Fair Housing sends and its positive impact on the Louisville community.

GLAR has created and shared a pair of videos to highlight why fair housing remains as important an initiative in 2018 as it was in 1968. They work to ensure it is advocated for on a daily basis.

These videos are used to remind everyone in the Louisville area that REALTORS® are focused on creating opportunities and ending discrimination not just because it’s the law but because it’s the right thing to do.

They are also reminding everyone that although there has been a lot of progress in the 50 years since the Fair Housing Act, there is still work to be done. GLAR is committed to work together and stand for fair housing and equal opportunity, because there is no community without “unity” and everyone deserves a place to call home.

Regulating Short-Term Rentals

Thinking about getting away for New Year’s Eve this year? Maybe flying down to Western Florida and be in a vacationer’s paradise away from the hustle and bustle of your daily grind, and ring in 2019 with your toes in the sand?

Madeira Beach, with its white sand, situated right on the clear blue water of the Gulf of Mexico, is just minutes from St. Petersburg.

A mid-August search on AirBnB found 583 rentals available for a couple to get away for an extended weekend at the end of December.

One problem – Madeira Beach has made short-term rentals, defined in their community as rentals of less than 30 days, illegal.

It’s a conundrum and one tourist areas all over the country are suddenly dealing with on a much more frequent basis.

According to Joe Farrell, director of public affairs for the Pinellas REALTOR® Organization, “a couple of communities in Pinellas County did whatever they could to make it inhospitable or illegal for vacation rentals to operate. Now, the same number of vacation rentals still operate in those areas, they just operate in the dark.

“We try to work with communities to say, let’s allow these rentals, but let’s be responsible,” Farrell said. “You can outlaw them all you want, if you don’t have the enforcement ability, they’re just going to go underground.”

In Florida, taxes on registered rental properties are currently 13% per rental – which includes a 7% sales tax and a 6% bed tax. Farrell pointed out if a renter goes underground, they stop remitting that money to the local municipality so then there is no funding to enforce, creating a vicious circle.

Have you ever rented a vacation home before?

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At The Local Level

This isn’t just germane to Florida. Short-term rentals through social media or internet platforms are becoming the norm and every community is struggling with how to manage it.

In Tennessee, there were such varying beliefs in how to deal with short-term rentals across communities the state had to intervene and spent the better part of the past two years crafting legislation that split the difference between the two.

Thanks to Nashville’s booming music and culinary scenes, it has become a popular tourist destination. The city would like to steer overnight guests toward new hotels and keep the tourists to a confined area of the city that is vibrant and welcoming of tourism rather than have people renting properties in quieter residential neighborhoods and communities.

“There are million-dollar homes in private communities being rented out short-term because the owners realize there is a real market for them… but at the same time, you can imagine why neighbors might not be happy with that.”

“There are million-dollar homes in private communities being rented out short-term because the owners realize there is a real market for them and that big groups of people will pay top dollar for them,” said Jennifer Farrar, Government Affairs Director for Tennessee REALTORS®. “It makes sense, but at the same time, you can imagine why neighbors might not be happy with that.”

The General Assembly of Tennessee passed legislation in May that determined that existing short-term rentals that are not occupied by the owner were grandfathered in to prior to January 1, 2014. So, as long as the owner has owned that property since that time, they can continue to rent it out short-term, all others can no longer be permitted.

Across The Country

“From a state perspective, it’s hard to find the right balance – finding what works for one municipality may not work for another,” Farrar said. “It took two years of planning in session and amendments galore to come to the decision that they did. The outcome is about as neutral as can be and the legislation wasn’t a feather in the cap for anyone. It allowed for private property rights but also gave local control and gave a path to close the door on short-term rentals over time.”

It didn’t really address platforms such as AirBnB, but there are often so many homes on there that are not permitted as rental properties that it is too hard to really crack down, although Farrar thinks some municipalities, particularly a city like Nashville, will find the resources to curb some of the unpermitted properties from being rented.

“[The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)] has been watching this issue for a while,” said Adriann Murawski, State and Local Government Affairs Director Representative for NAR. “We haven’t taken a position, although we will always protect property rights. When it comes to short-term rentals, you really have to look at a few different things. The response we’re getting at the local level is it’s really hard to pick one side of the argument because there are mixed opinions by our members.

“We are hearing of issues all over the country, whether it’s a small town in Wisconsin with access to a lake, or a college in Alabama that doesn’t have a lot of hotel options; it’s not just the traditional tourist areas anymore that seek to regulate short-term rentals.”

Murawski added, “The ease of online platforms and renting out your house have created opportunities that did not widely exist a decade ago. The ability to rent homes on a short-term basis is financially advantageous to the owner and the city. The renters will spend money at the local businesses so that is a huge element that might get overlooked by local governments. Cities need to consider only reasonable regulations to ensure a balance without shooting themselves in the foot, so to speak. It’s a tricky situation and we’re adamant about protecting property rights at all levels of government.”

Infographic: Short-Term Rentals
Be an informed homeowner. Learn more about vacation properties, investment properties and short-term rentals.

Houston Market Data – August 2018

For the latest sales information on single-family homes and condos in Houston, see these three infographics below.

Click on the arrows below the infographics for more statistics from the association’s annual housing market report.

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