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VAR to advise governor on upcoming REB appointment

The Virginia Real Estate Board is composed of seven real estate licensee members and two citizen members, all appointed by the governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. The term of office is four years.

The current term of one licensee member expires on June 30, 2013, and the governor will shortly determine whom he’ll appoint. The current appointment is eligible for reappointment.

VAR regularly makes recommendations to the governor on appointments to the Real Estate Board. Association policy requires that we solicit member nominations before determining which candidate(s) VAR will recommend to the governor for appointment or reappointment.

Virginia getting $3.5 million more for housing settlement

Back in 2012, Virginia received about $66 million from the National Mortgage Settlement — the money paid by mortgage lenders for falsifying records, forging signatures, and otherwise ignoring the law so they could foreclose more quickly.

Now Lender Processing Services, which worked with lenders, was also caught breaking the law. As Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the Chicago Sun-Times:

LPS and its subsidiaries became a sort of document factory, literally rubber stamping thousands of foreclosures with no regard for fairness and accuracy in the process.

Fannie and Freddie: Here to stay?

What’s the future of Fannie and Freddie? No one knows. The consensus seems to be that it should have a much smaller role in the secondary mortgage market, and possibly re-privatized. But the specifics… well, that’s anyone’s guess.

One of those guesses: US News & World Report’s Jason Gold argues that “Fannie and Freddie Aren’t Going Away Anytime Soon.”

There seems to be no hurry among policymakers to decide the fate of Fannie and Freddie, but it looks increasingly as if the GSEs are here to stay.

Some of his points:

Call for action: Virginia’s transportation crisis

BLOCK_CTA_TRANSPORTATIONVirginia Realtors®, we need your help. It’s time for the General Assembly to act and fix our transportation crisis.

We all know that transportation is critical for Virginia’s economy. We need roads, bridges, tunnels, buses, and trains to get to school, to get to work, and for goods and customers to move.

VAR supports governor’s transportation tax plan

The Virginia Association of Realtors® has announced its support for Governor Bob McDonnell’s plan to help fund transportation in Virginia.

Gov. McDonnell explains his plan to increase sales taxes and lower gas taxes

Speaking on behalf of VAR and in support of the plan is President Mary Dykstra of Roanoke, who said:

VARbuzz: CFPB releases consumer-protection laws for high-priced loans

On the heels of its definition of qualified mortgages, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released its new rules for high-cost mortgages, as required by Dodd-Frank. Here’s an outline.

One important note, especially for smaller banks and credit unions: Lenders who make at least half their mortgages in rural counties are exempt, as are those in areas with two or fewer major mortgage lenders.

What’s a high-cost loan?

These are the types of loan the CFPB defines as “high cost”:

VARbuzz: CFPB releases qualified mortgage(s) rule

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after years of discussions, comments, hearings, and the like, has finally released it Qualified Mortgage (QM) rules. These set minimum qualifications for borrowers — at least if lenders want government backing and protection from consumer lawsuits.

Put another way: For the vast majority of loans, this will be the standard borrowers will have to meet.

We’ll be analyzing the rules in detail — as will the entire world of financial punditry — but for now here’s how they appear to work.

There are two levels to the rules: Ability to Pay and Qualified Mortgages.

VARbuzz: IRS delays that might affect you

With a large number of Realtors® being independent contractors, we thought this might be relevant:

If you were planning to get your taxes done early (because you don’t have to wait for a W-2) and hopefully score a quick refund, don’t bother. The IRS has said it won’t start processing them until January 30.

Also of note, if you or someone you know was planning to claim general business credits, depreciation of property, or residential energy credits, you won’t see any refund until late February at the earliest, as the IRS is still tweaking its new computer systems.

Buzz: The fiscal cliff deal and real estate — what’s up

So Congress sorta kinda reached a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” — well, at least for a year. Pick your favorite reliable news source to read how it affects most things; we’re just going to look at real estate issues here.

There are some provisions of the bill that affect real estate specifically, and others that affect tax deductions in general (including the mortgage interest deduction). Here are the most notable.

Real-estate specific things:

1 Someone who has had part of his mortgage principal reduced — e.g., by a short sale or loan modification — will not have to pay taxes on that reduction… at least if it happens before January 1, 2014, when that provision will expire.

Get Active in 2014: Show your spirit at REALTOR® Day on the Hill

Only a handful of constituents get quality time with their representatives. Congratulations. You're in one. As the largest trade association in the state, we get unparalleled access to our elected officials. That means you. YOU have a chance to influence Virginia housing policy, in person. Don't miss it.

What's in store for Get Active 2013? A chance for you to join in the discussion and have your voice heard.