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RPAC and NAR lobbying efforts help stabilize the housing economy

A day after helping to get the homebuyer tax credit closing deadline extended, NAR's powerful lobbying efforts are profiled in a CNBC spot.

Regardless of what you think about the tax credit, there's widespread agreement that it helped stimulate sales and stabilize home prices. Realtors®: If you've benefited from the homebuyer tax credit (and virtually all of us have, if only indirectly), make an investment in RPAC -- it'll make future legislative victories possible.


Commonwealth magazine arrives this week

Watch your mailbox this week for the latest issue of Commonwealth Magazine.  Here's what to expect:

Prince William County to seize disputed land

Prince William County supervisors have voted to compel an 83-year-old woman and her sons, Parker Family LLC, to turn over their $100,000 parcel of land -- without compensation.

“They basically just get the property,” said Sally Hankins, attorney for Parker Family LLC. “The county is going to file a document … saying they’re initiating a quick-take on the property.” The filing will claim the property's value as zero, allowing the the county to take it without payment.

Ask Congress to renew NFIP and rural housing 502 program

We posted stories today (June 1, 2010) about the expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the unfinished business of extending the USDA's Section 502 rural housing program.  Now you can help make things right on both fronts.  

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.

Uncle Sam to the rescue: Both houses of the U.S. Congress have passed bills to continue funding the USDA's rural loan guarantee program. Rolled into the emergency supplemental appropriations bill that passed the Senate last week, the loan-guarantee program will see these changes:

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.

Read more in The Virginian-Pilot....

RE BarCamp RVA: June 23 at RAR

The Richmond Association of Realtors and VAR are teaming up to bring you RE BarCamp RVA. "RE BarCamp RVA? What the heck is that?" you say?

A BarCamp is a FREE unconference, meaning there is no set agenda of topics before everyone arrives at the site.  At the beginning of the event anyone in attendance can “pitch” an idea such as leading a discussion on the use of Twitter for real estate, a discussion on best practices in dealing with a Short Sales, hot mobile applications or using Facebook for real estate.  Each idea is written on a post-it note and posted on the wall at the front of the room.

Legal battle ends over condemnation of Roanoke property

The legal battle over a three-acre plot of land on Reserve Avenue has ended, with B&B Holdings accepting its condemnation. The City of Roanoke had exerted eminent domain to take the land for a Carrilion Clinic biomedical park, but has since dropped those plans.

The case has been closely watched by advocates of property-owners' rights, who are pushing for stricter limits on the use of eminent domain to seize land. Ultimately, the owners in this case, Jay and Stephanie Burkholder, gave up the fight because it made good financial sense to do so. The legal battle cost them about $600,000.

Virginia Realtors to gather for annual convention at the REal Show

The annual convention for Virginia Realtors, The REal Show will be held October 1-3 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Featured speakers will include legendary Washington Redskins quarterback JoeTheismann and Richard Bitner, managing editor of Housing Wire.        

The 90th annual convention of the Virginia Association of REALTORS (VAR), offered in cooperation with the Hampton Roads REALTORS Association (HRRA), is expected to draw several hundred attendees from around the state, with Realtors, brokers and specialists coming for education sessions and a large real estate trade expo.

State negotiating to keep tolls low for Midtown Tunnel drivers

State officials are negotiating for lower proposed tolls with Elizabeth River Crossings, a private group that wants to expand the Midtown Tunnel. Officials put the cost of adding a second tube to the Midtown Tunnel, refurbishing the Downtown Tunnel and extending  the Martin Luther King Freeway at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion. Transportation officials say the proposed construction would fix two of the region's worst traffic bottlenecks.

The planned estimated base toll for both the Midtown and Downtown tunnels is $2.17 for cars and $6.52 for trucks. State officials are trying to get the tolls lowered -- perhaps to as low as $1.50.