File this under "got your back": Check out who’s spending the most money lobbying on Capitol Hill, courtesy of OpenSecrets.org:
That’s $8.5 million so far this year. In 2012, NAR spent a total of $41.5 million (and was also the number-two lobbying organization behind the US Chamber).
There are a handful of tax breaks for homeowners who improve the energy efficiency of their homes — essentially, the government reduces your taxes if you make your house greener.
Now a bill introduced in the Senate by senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) would give a different kind of incentive — it would require lenders to take into account the energy-efficient features of a home when calculating a borrower’s income/expense ratio.
Essentially, it would allow buyers to qualify for a larger loan or a better rate if a home is energy efficient.
The National Flood Insurance Program was in the black until Hurricane Katrina; since then it’s been in debt to the tune of about $20 billion. (Which, of course, illustrates why it’s a government program and not offered by private insurers.)
So in 2012 Congress reformed the program to try to keep it from bleeding money.
For example, homes built before 1968 — when the NFIP started — were given lower, "grandfathered" rates. Those are going to be phased out. And homeowners living where the danger of flooding is so extreme that insurance is unaffordable were given subsidies to pay for it. (Yes, that’s correct. People living in the most-flood prone areas were given lower insurance rates.) Those subsidies are also going to be removed.
On July 1, a whole lotta Virginia’s new laws take effect, including a bunch that affect real estate and Realtors. Are you ready? Do you know what’s changing? (Hint: You’d better.)
We’ve got you covered on our just-launched 2013 "New Laws Virginia Realtors Need to Know About" page. (Sorry — we couldn’t come up with a fancy name for it.)
The Obama administration has extended its Making Home Affordable program, which includes two sub-programs designed to help homeowners refinance so they can stay in their homes.
Making Home Affordable includes the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). It was set to expire at the end of the year, but homeowners now have until December 31, 2015 to apply for modifications.
HAMP: Lenders are giving incentives from the federal government to modify homeowners’ mortgages.
Good news for small local banks and credit unions. After a several months of accepting comments from industry groups and the public, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made several changes to its ability-to-repay rules — changes that are a boon for smaller lenders.
CFPB’s ability-to-repay rule is the standard that all loans must meet. It explains what a lender must consider when offering a mortgage. It’s to prevent lenders from offering loans to people who can’t afford them. (Click here for the Buzz post that explains it.)
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Join us for this informative and interactive seminar taught by Mahalia “Mally” Dryden-Mason, Consumer Education Coordinator and Fair Housing Training Specialist. Mally is approved by the Real Estate Board and the Fair Housing Board as a course provider whose seminars meet the requirements for real estate continuing education and fair housing certification. Her enthusiastic presentation will cover everything you need to know about Fair Housing in Virginia.
Earlier today, all Virginia brokers received the following notification:
In early March 2013, the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) issued clarification about its real estate licensee transfer policy that created concern about when a transferring licensee is able to practice at his new firm. In response, VAR has been consistently working with DPOR staff and Virginia Real Estate Board members on a solution that will allow licensees to transfer seamlessly to a new firm.