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National Flood Insurance Program expires

Just in time for hurricane season, Congress has allowed the National Flood Insurance Program to lapse.  The program expired on May 31, 2010 because Congress failed to reach an agreement on an extension before adjourning for the Memorial Day recess. 

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USDA 502 loans (almost) rescued

Like FHA loans, USDA-backed loans have been surging in popularity over the past few years due to tightening credit underwriting standards.  After doubling its loan volume from 2008 to 2009, the Rural Development 502 Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program was on the brink of insolvency.

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Wetlands violations risky, and expensive

Wetlands may be hard to spot -- and disturbing them without obtaining the required permits can be very expensive.

Kurt Lorenz found that out the hard way after he bought 22 acres of vacant land in southern Chesapeake. He didn't know that the property contained wetlands, and started work on a horse barn. Today, he faces a $22,750 fine from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, plus a $50,000 expense to restore the disturbed wetlands.

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Fairfax County's I-495 HOT lanes to open in December 2012

Ground has been broken on a HOT lanes operations center near Edsall Road, kicking off the construction project that will eventually result in High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-495. Drivers with two or more passengers will be able to use the High Occupancy Toll lanes for free. Vehicles carrying just one or two people can also use the lanes, for a fee.

"With this more reliable travel time, the Beltway will soon become a viable option for buses and HOV travelers searching for a better commute," said Thelma Drake, director, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

Virginia to improve public/private partnerships in road construction

In an effort to improve Virginia's roads, Governor Bob McDonnell is looking to encourage greater cooperation between the state government and private construction companies. One possibility: establishing an office that would identify and consider privately initiated transportation projects.

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New lead paint rules went into effect April 22

Editor's note: This story was originally posted on March 25, 2010. We're re-publishing it due to reports of a large number of members being unfamiliar with the new rules.

According to NAR, new EPA rules about lead paint are set to go into effect on April 22, 2010.

To help you comply with the new rules, your friends at NAR have set up a Lead Paint Renovation Rule Compliance Guide at REALTOR.org.

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