On Common Ground Magazine

On Common Ground Magazine

Summer 2018: Fair Housing & Social Equality

Summer 2018: Fair Housing & Social Equality

Published twice a year (May and November), On Common Ground contains articles on cutting-edge land planning techniques. Order bulk amounts of this magazine to use as a great leave-behind when visiting local officials or provide NAR with a mailing list and leave the delivery to us.

View current and back issues of On Common Ground.

Download the On Common Ground Mobile App from the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play Store.

 

Questions? Contact Catherine Mesick at 202-383-1000.

 

Ordering On Common Ground

For Individuals

To have your name placed on the mailing list, please email: OCG@realtors.org

For Associations

To order copies for your association to distribute to local public officials:

Option 1: Ship to Association Office

NAR can ship a specific number of copies of the latest issue to your association each time the magazine is published. Association staff and/or leadership can then distribute them in-person when meeting with local public officials. Many associations use this method because they prefer the direct contact with public officials. If you prefer this method, please email the number of copies you would like to receive and the name and shipping address to OCG@realtors.org.

A maximum number of 200 copies may be requested with this option.

Please Note: The submission deadline for the May issue is April 5 and the deadline for the November issue is October 5.

Option 2: Mail Directly to Public Officials

At no cost to your association, NAR can mail copies of the magazine directly to your local public officials. Use this template to provide a mailing list of public officials.

The first-time your association uses this method, a cover letter that provides background on the magazine and why they are receiving the publication is included with magazine. The cover letter must be drafted by the association on your association’s letterhead, and sent in PDF format along with the mailing list. Send the completed template  and cover letter PDF (first-time only) to OCG@realtors.org.

A maximum number of 300 copies may be requested with this option. For local associations, only public officials in your service area should be included in your mailing list. State and federal elected officials need to be submitted by the state association.   

Please Note: The deadline for the May issue is April 5 and the deadline for the November issue is October 5.  Please submit any updated mailing lists by these dates as well.

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Housing Pulse Survey

The Housing Pulse Survey is a biennial survey conducted for the Housing Opportunity Program, which aims to position, educate and help REALTORS® promote housing opportunities in their community, in both the rental and homeownership sectors of the market. The telephone survey polls between 1,000 to 2,000 adults nationwide to assist NAR in gaining information on consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing opportunities. 

Questions? Contact Wendy Penn at 202-383-7504.

 

2017 Housing Pulse Survey

NAR’s twelfth Housing Pulse Survey shows a vast majority of Americans believe that buying a home is a solid financial decision, and most believe that homeownership helps create safe, secure, and stable environments.

The survey, which measures consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing issues, found that building equity and preparing for retirement are the top financial reasons for buying a home. Yet six in 10 say that they are concerned about the cost to buy a home or high rent prices in their area.

The telephone survey of 1,500 adults nationwide in the 25 most populous metropolitan statistical areas was conducted for NAR by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR”s Housing Opportunity Program.

Some key findings from the year’s survey include:

  • Americans overwhelmingly believe that buying a home is a good financial decision; 84 percent hold that view.
  • Nationally, 44 percent categorize the lack of available housing that is affordable as a very big or fairly big problem.
  • Family and friends, REALTORS®, and banks top list of trusted sources when it comes to buying a home or property.

Learn More

Past Housing Pulse Surveys

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Workforce Housing Forum Guide

REALTOR® Associations can play an important role in addressing workforce housing issues in their community by holding a forum that brings key players in the community together to examine how the lack of affordable housing opportunities is affecting the community and exploring strategies to address these issues.

The Workforce Housing Forum Guide: A Strategy for Outreach and Advocacy outlines how to plan and conduct a workforce housing forum to identify and develop strategies to address a community’s workforce housing needs. The guide includes tips and tools for setting goals,and resources to identify partners, select speakers, manage resources and more, along with examples of successful forums conducted by REALTOR® Associations.

You can download the entire guide to review and print. You can also print out individual tools and resources for staff and committee members to discuss and then customize.

Guide Tools & Resources

Event Planning

Conducting the Forum

After the Forum

 

Questions? Contact Holly Moskerintz at 202-383-1157.

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Customized State Smart Growth Legislation Program

The Customized State Smart Growth Legislation Program provides assistance to state REALTOR® Associations to take the lead in writing and introducing legislation to help the state better address the challenges of growth and improve local communities. NAR will offer, at a reduced rate to the association, the services of respected land-use consultant, Robinson & Cole, to draft state legislation on Smart Growth issues (i.e., new zoning enabling legislation, requirements for local planning, changes in subdivision law, open space protection). These proposals must be related to land-use and smart growth, and should involve issues that can gain support from a constituency beyond REALTORS®.

What does the program provide?

  • Drafting by experienced land-use attorneys of legislation to achieve specific ends identified by the state REALTOR® Association
  • Advice on legislative strategy
  • Development of talking points
  • Assistance with coalition development
  • Limited direct lobbying

What is the state REALTOR® Association expected to do?

  • Fully commit to a legislative campaign
  • Identify specific objectives the legislation is to achieve
  • Appoint a legislative committee or task force (if none already exists)
  • Participate in strategy and coalition development
  • Secure bill sponsor
  • Organize member contact teams to lobby legislators

 

Questions? Contact Joe Molinaro at 202-383-1175.

 

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Employer-Assisted Housing Guide

Employer-Assisted Housing Guide CoverMuch of our workforce cannot afford to live in the communities where they work or serve. Employer-Assisted Housing (EAH) is one tool that can be implemented to address this challenge.

The Employer-Assisted Housing Initiative Guide for State and Local REALTOR® Associations provides a roadmap for associations to plan and implement an EAH initiative to help increase affordable housing opportunities for working families in your community. The guide includes examples of EAH initiatives some associations have already implemented as well as a set of tools and resources to help you implement your initiative. 

You can download the entire toolkit to print and review. You can also print out individual tools and resources for staff and committee members to discuss and then customize and others to disseminate at events or to partners.

Guide Tools & Resources

General

Event Planning

Fact Sheets for Event Attendees and Partners

For Employers

 

Questions? Contact Holly Moskerintz at 202-383-1157.

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Housing Opportunity Resources

Guides, Publications, and Information

Financial Readiness
NAR encourages associations to work with providers of financial education along with partners such as schools and community organizations to support evidence-based and age appropriate activities.

Homelessness Resources
A collection of resources and information to assist associations with their efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness.

Ambassadors for Cites: Affordable City Living
A PDF publication featuring examples of public/private partnerships between REALTORS® and cities.

Employer-Assisted Housing Guide
The guide provides a roadmap for your association to plan and implement an EAH initiative to help increase affordable housing opportunities for working families in your community.

Establishing a Charitable Foundation
A field guide providing information on tax and legal issues related to foundations, fundraising ideas, useful websites and more.

Inclusionary Zoning
A field guide providing background information on inclusionary zoning, case studies, considerations in developing inclusionary zoning and more.

Housing Opportunity Toolkit
A collection of resources and information for both individual REALTORS® and REALTOR® Associations.

Workforce Housing Forum Guide
The Workforce Housing Forum Guide: A Strategy for Outreach and Advocacy outlines how to plan and conduct a workforce housing forum to identify and develop strategies to address a community’s workforce housing needs.

Research and Surveys

Housing Pulse Surveys
The Housing Pulse Survey is a telephone survey of between 1,000 to 2,000 adults, nationwide is designed to assist NAR in gaining information on consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing opportunities.

 

Questions? Contact Wendy Penn at 202-383-7504.

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Diversity Initiative Grants

2019 Grant Applications and Guidance Now Available

The Diversity Initiative Grant Program provides funding to state and local REALTOR® Associations that seek to enhance the diversity of its membership and leadership as well as to ensure that members have a robust understanding of Fair Housing issues. The Diversity Grant Program has several key target areas. See below for details.

LEVEL 1 Grants

DIVERSITY INITIATIVE GRANT EVALUATION FORM

Level 1 Grants are intended to support the following activities. Level 1 applications are accepted anytime from January 1 through October 1st and are eligible for up to $1000. Twenty of these grants will be awarded in 2019 on a first-come first-served basis in each of the following categories:

    • Fair Housing Training Classes
      LEVEL 1A DIVERSITY INITIATIVE GRANT APPLICATION
      Funds can be used towards compensating an instructor for the class. Instructor compensation is the only cost associated with a class that will be reimbursed. There is a limit of one of these grants per year to an association.
    • Multicultural Real Estate Organization Sponsorship
      LEVEL 1B DIVERSITY INITIATIVE GRANT APPLICATION
      Up to $1000 to fund the association’s sponsorship of a local multicultural chapter event or activity. The sponsorship form for event must be submitted along with grant application. There is a limit of one grant per multicultural organizational chapter per year per REALTOR® Association with a maximum of two grants in this category per REALTOR® Association per year.
    • Participation in National or Regional Meeting of the Multicultural Real Estate Associations
      LEVEL 1C DIVERSITY INITIATIVE GRANT APPLICATION
      Funds can be used to support participation by REALTOR® Association senior staff or elected officers to cover registration and travel. There is a limit per REALTOR® Association of one grants per multicultural conference, with an overall limit of two of these grants to any one REALTOR® Association per year. A separate application must be submitted for each sponsored attendee.

LEVEL 2 Grants

LEVEL 2 DIVERSITY INITIATIVE GRANT APPLICATION
DIVERSITY INITIATIVE GRANT EVALUATION FORM

Level 2 Grants are intended to support the following activities. Level 2 applications are accepted on the 15th of each month from January through September 15th , and are eligible for up to $5,000. A state and local association may only be awarded one Level 2 grant per year.

  • Fair Housing
    Local associations may apply for grants up to $5,000 to address local fair housing issues. Eligible activities include developing specific training to address local fair housing issues, crating tools for REALTORS® and other real estate professionals to promote compliance with fair housing laws, engage in research or meetings to analyze local fair housing issues, and advocacy on fair housing issues. The grant is not intended to support the provision of fair housing classes, rather to support the development of the training. Applicants are encouraged to partner with housing organizations, chapters of multicultural real estate organizations and the local government fair housing agencies.
  • Fair Housing Assessments
    Funds participation in a local Community’s HUD required Fair Housing Assessment process. If a local community conducting the Fair Housing Assessment falls under the jurisdiction of more than one local REALTOR® Association, NAR encourages the local associations to cooperate and submit one joint application. Applications must demonstrate the efforts of the association to engage in an analysis of local fair housing issues and advocate REALTOR® policies in the assessment process. Activities that may be supported by the grants include analysis of local fair housing issues, determination of REALTOR® policies related to those issues, advocacy of those REALTOR® policies including hosting or attending public participation sessions, analysis of preliminary and final assessments. Grant recipients will be required to submit the local community’s assessment report to NAR upon its completion.
  • Fair Housing Partnership
    Local REALTOR® Associations may apply for grants to address local fair housing issues with local fair housing organizations or government fair housing agencies. Eligible activities include developing specific training to address the issues raised, engaging in research or meetings to analyze local fair housing issues, joint advocacy on fair housing issues, creating tools for REALTORS® and other real estate professionals to promote compliance with Fair Housing Laws or promotion of fair housing to the public. Generally, grants require evidence of partnership with a local fair housing organization or with a government fair housing agency unless the activity is to research fair housing issues raised by one of these organizations with the purpose of determining whether to partner with the organization. Limit of 2 Level 2 Fair Housing Partnership grants per year.
  • Leading with Diversity
    Funds activities or programs that are designed to expand the inclusion of diversity in the leadership fabric of the association. Applicants must demonstrate how the activity will serve to expand the inclusion of diversity in leadership and include actions that will be used to measure the progress made as a result of implementing the activity or program. Associations are encouraged to conduct the Leading with Diversity Workshop provided by NAR prior to applying for their first Leading with Diversity Level 2 grant. Associations may apply for subsequent grants but must outline in subsequent grants the success of their previous effort and demonstrate how the new grant will continue the association’s progress in expanding the inclusion of diversity.
  • Multicultural Real Estate Organizations* Partnership
    Partnering with a local chapter of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals or the Asian Real Estate Association of America. Partnership must be focused on advocacy (Vote, Act or Invest). Grants may also fund activities to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Applications must demonstrate that the association and the chapter have met and have agreed to jointly address the issue. Level 2 Multicultural Real Estate Organization Partnership grants should not be used solely to sponsor an event of a Multicultural real estate organization, but will require participation in the planning of an event or activity and visible participation of both organizations in the event or activity with acknowledgment of its joint nature.

*Please note: References below to the Multicultural Real Estate Organizations include:

  • National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB)
  • National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP)
  • Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA)
  • National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP)
  • Women’s Council of REALTORS® (WCR)

Grant Application & Program Guidance

Grant Payment to Selected Applicants:

  • All grant awards are paid on a reimbursement basis.
  • Funds are distributed when NAR receives:
    • Proof of expenditure in the form of receipts, signed contracts, or invoices
    • Grant Evaluation Form
    • One or two items resulting from the effort, such as photos, video, press or a plan, a study, etc.

The Grant Program requires that:

  • The funds be used within one year of the award or be forfeited back to NAR.
  • You submit evaluation formafter your activity is complete. If the evaluation form is not returned, your association will not be eligible to receive another grant.
  • Applications should be submitted by the association AE or with the AE copied.

The Grant Program allows that:

  • If your association has previously been awarded a grant you may apply again to support a new activity or further development of an existing activity.
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Smart Growth for the 21st Century Class

A community functions best with homes for all incomes, jobs, schools, open space, desirable destinations and services, and different ways to reach them—by foot, bicycle, public transit, or automobile.A community functions best with homes for all incomes, jobs, schools, open space, desirable destinations and services, and different ways to reach them—by foot, bicycle, public transit, or automobile.

Sponsored by REALTOR® Associations, the Smart Growth for the 21st Century Class is a four-hour course that teaches REALTORS®:

  • State-of-the-art community planning concepts that they can apply.
  • How to get their community to live up to its potential.
  • What is needed to make their community a better place to live and do business.
  • The value and benefits of smart growth neighborhoods to homebuyers and communities.
  • How they can help make smart growth possible.

Interested in sponsoring a class? Apply for the Smart Growth Action Grant to get hosting fees.

 

 

Questions? Contact Hugh Morris at 202-383-1278.

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Land Use Initiative & Technical Assistance

The Land Use Initiative is a program designed to assist state and local REALTOR® Associations in their public policy advocacy of land-use issues. Upon request, NAR will provide expert analysis of the legal, planning, economic and environmental issues surrounding legislative and regulatory land-use proposals. The initiative has helped state and local REALTOR® Associations across the country deal with a variety of land-use and Smart Growth issues. NAR, through its consultant, has provided guidance and expert opinion on more than 800 different legislative and regulatory issues that effect the interest of REALTORS®.

Resources available through the Land Use Initiative include the:

  • Growth Management Fact Book: Provides in-depth discussions on land-use management policies. Consulting this reference can be a good first step in determining how to proceed with a land-use issue. Access this reference if you need to get up-to-speed on various land use management techniques and their impact on the real estate industry.
  • Land Use Memo Database (Log-in required): Research various land-use management proposals and their impact on the real estate industry. This information can help craft your association’s response to proposed local ordinances.

Questions? Contact Holly Moskerintz at 202-383-1157.

Land Use Initiative Application


LAND USE INITIATIVE TRACKING FORM: PART 1
LAND USE INITIATIVE TRACKING FORM: PART 2 

  1. Complete Part 1 of the Land Use Initiative Tracking Form 1, including the signature of the association president, AE or GAD. Also note on the form any specific concerns and any desired deadlines, such as hearing dates. Submit the Tracking Form and the land use document to be analyzed to Holly Moskerintz
  2. NAR will review the submitted proposed plan, legislation or regulation to ensure that it conforms to the requirements of the program. If the proposal is accepted, the material will be sent to NAR’s consultant Robinson & Cole. The submitting association will receive a notice by email that the material has been accepted for analysis.
  3. Robinson & Cole will review the material and make telephone or e-mail contact with the association within three business days of receipt of the material. If requested, Robinson & Cole will provide a written analysis within 15 working days of receipt of the material. This written analysis will be faxed to both the requesting association and NAR.
  4. Within 10 business days of receipt of the analysis, the state or local REALTOR® Association should submit the evaluation form (Land Use Initiative Tracking Form: Part 2) to provide NAR feedback on the service and suggestions for improvement of the program. Submit the Tracking Form  to Holly Moskerintz

Quarterly Reports

Download this report

A total of 15 requests were processed and approved during the 1st quarter of 2019. A noteworthy trend, no requests for review of local short-term rental regulations. This is notable because in the first quarter of 2018, there were nine requests for this issue. Environmental related issues came up in Sandwich, Massachusetts with proposed beachfront regulations. And in Birmingham, AL a storm water management ordinance was reviewed. Several requests were made by state REALTOR® associations for example, land bank legislation in Nevada, housing transfer agreements in New Jersey, solar systems and restrictive covenants in Delaware.

Key Highlights
In Somerville, MA, located northwest of Boston, a “Condominium Conversion” ordinance was introduced that would significantly alter the rules regarding condo conversions and specific tenant notifications, tenant or city ability to purchase, relocation costs, and obligations of a landlord to find comparable housing for elderly, disabled, or low/moderate income tenants. The analysis provided by Robinson & Cole focused on the provisions that would make condo conversions unreasonably difficult, if not infeasible (ii) vagueness of a Review Board’s authority to deny or impose conversion permits (iii) tenant notice and relocation requirements (iv) the unintended consequence of discouraging the production of rental housing and (v) a flat fee for relocation benefits.

Two projects of note
Land Installment Contracts in Youngstown, Ohio: What is a land installment contract? A company (vendor) retains title to property as security for buyer’s (vendee) obligation. A vendor is defined as “any individual, partnership, corporation, association, trust or any other group of individuals however organized making a sale of property by means of a land installment contract.” The Youngstown Columbiana Association of REALTORS® is working with the City to change the ordinance that has been termed “predatory.” Companies offer land installment contracts to people as an alternative to traditional financing (bank, credit union, mortgage company). Once the agreement is in place, the company retains all property rights while the buyer has to make all payments, property improvements, etc. with vague protections and high risk of default.

Right to Survive Ordinance in Denver, Colorado: Ballot measure would create an ordinance that would establish rights for all people in public spaces. While the initiative is intended to address homelessness it does not take into account the root causes of homelessness. The ballot measure would establish five “rights” to rest and shelter in public spaces for all people whether or not they are homeless or visiting the city. The analysis provided by Robinson & Cole focused on the challenges and applications of the proposed measure.

Key Highlights:

A total of 13 requests were processed and approved during the 4th quarter of 2018. Short-term rental type regulations continue to be a top issue reviewed under the LUI. Other issues that were consistent are zoning regulations that enable property inspections. For example, in Greensboro, NC, the city is looking to reduce blight by inspections whereas San Antonio is seeking additional authority for inspections of Senior Housing. Inclusionary Zoning measures were introduced in two cities New Orleans and Longmont, CO. A Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) proposal was reviewed from Rochester, MN.

Key Highlights

Inclusionary Zoning (IZ): Generally there are two approaches to inclusionary zoning laws: mandatory or voluntary. If IZ is required for new development there are certain specifications that a project must follow to provide affordable housing units although there may be a fee-in-lieu or off site development of the affordable units. If IZ is voluntary, developers are incentivized to build affordable units by offering a density bonus, flexibility in zoning restrictions (such as reduced parking or setback requirements), fee waivers, exemptions, favorable real estate tax treatment, favorable financing terms, and/or expedited permit review.

  • Louisiana: In May 2018, Governor Edwards vetoed SB 462 which would have preempted locals from adopting mandatory IZ measures. The Governor’s veto occurred because no municipality has adopted mandatory IZ but the Governor said “if local governments in LA do not pursue” IZ policies, he may sign similar preemption legislation in 2019. In essence encouraging locals to utilize this type of affordable housing development tool.
  • New Orleans: In an effort to avoid preemption, NOLA released a set of proposed mandatory IZ programs in Oct. 2018. The LUI analysis highlighted several factors. The mandatory nature of the proposals were not offset by any incentives to the affected developers which would likely have to pass the costs to buyers of market rate units. If market factors do not allow for an increase in costs, developers may be forced to reduce the amount of land costs, reduce quality of housing product, build elsewhere, or not build at all. The LUI analysis raised additional concerns and the need of the City to provide a thorough analysis of the economics of the local housing market. The analysis referenced an empirical study of affordable housing mandates in California, that concluded (i) “from an overall production standpoint, IZ has not been effective” (ii) “IZ translates into significant higher prices for market-rate homebuyers” and (iii) in addition to increasing prices, IZ leads to a decrease in new housing.”

Transit Oriented Development: The City of Rochester introduced a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) ordinance to link private land use and public transportation. This is in response to “community growth issues” such as encouraging land use patterns that support cost-effective transit, reduce need for high cost road improvements to alleviate traffic congestions, denser development to grow tax base and increase revenues, and development patterns that are energy efficient with reduced climate impact. The proposal consisted of transit corridors/walkable districts with sites of dense mixed use development. TOD ordinances include form-based code development regulations which move land code from designated uses to building form. The Rochester proposal would expand the uses in the TOD District, impose minimum and maximum setback requirements, and establish neighborhood protection standards. The proposed height bonus and mixed use development were recommended for the association’s support. However, the proposed City review process for larger lot development projects (10 acres or more) would have to undergo additional scrutiny so the LUI recommended areas to improve the ordinance for long-term success and implementation of the TOD ordinance.

Blighted Areas/Property Inspections: In Greensboro, NC the City introduced amendments to the housing code that would expand the City’s authority to inspect residential dwellings targeting “blighted areas.” The City’s proposal to designate areas of blight may cause unnecessary harm to properties that are not vacant or blighted which would negatively impact property values and may harm residents in close proximity to “blight” even if their property is maintained. The association was advised to resolve ambiguities of the “blighted areas” prior to adopting the law. The proposed amendments also indicated that the “top ten percent of properties with crime or disorder problems” obtain a permit from the City. Landlords with tenants associated with crime or disorder would be required to evict a tenant-which raises concerns under the federal Fair Housing Act. Finally, the proposal places policing and enforcing the law on rental property owners rather than the City because of the responsibility for conduct that takes place on rental properties. The LUI guided the association in requesting further consideration by the City before implementing the law.

For an in-depth review of these proposals see, Land Use Memo Database.

Key Highlights:

A total of ten requests were processed during the months of July through September.

  • Three jurisdictions proposed short-term rental regulations (State of Nevada; City of Salem, MA; Summit County, CO). The NV regulation came from the State Fire Marshal. Within the proposal, newer building codes were being considered. This included vague language that any short-term rental could be classified as a “lodging house.” The potential change in classification of short-term rentals would enable local governments to impose mandatory inspection or permit requirements.
  • NOTE: Keep an eye out for additional resources on short-term rentals that will be released before Annual: advocacy tips and a compilation of state laws on taxation and regulations.
  • Two jurisdictions proposed regulations regarding stormwater management (Greenville County, SC and City of Fort Worth, TX). In Fort Worth, the city is considering a floodplain policy that would change the city’s stormwater development review process. Flood hazard areas are identified through the city’s drainage criteria manual not Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mapped floodplains. Initial feedback suggests the areas identified will involve more uncertainty and less precision identifying flood risks than the approach used under FEMA’s NFIP program. This proposal is in the early stages and the Greater Fort Worth Association of REALTORS® has a seat on the Advisory Committee. Concerns discussed are: potential adverse impact on property values, application of development standards, potential increases to flood insurance premiums, seller disclosures, impact on city resources, confusion for lenders, etc. The City appears to be very open about the process and consistently communicating with community members and stakeholders.
  • In Colorado, ballot initiative #108 proposes to amend the Takings Clause of the Colorado Constitution to require that “just compensation” be paid when private property is “reduced in fair market value by government law or regulation.” Initiative #108 is in response to ballot initiative #97 which proposes a statutory change to the setback requirements for new oil and gas development from 500 feet to 2,500 feet. Ballot #97 is spearheaded by environmental groups whereas ballot #108 is backed by the CO Farm Bureau and the oil and gas industry. If ballot measure #108 were to pass, it would apply to all government laws and regulations without exception for laws or regulations enacted for the protection of public health. Further, ballot #108 would add six words to the CO Constitution raising several questions as to how it would be implemented. The CO Municipal League Executive Director said, if initiative #108 passes, “my advice to counties and municipalities, don’t do anything – no zoning, no ordinances.” This is a huge red flag for the potential cost to cities (i.e. taxpayers) to defend lawsuits if initiative #108 were to pass.

Key Highlights:

A total of fourteen requests were processed during the months of April through June. There were a mix of proposed ordinance issue areas: short-term rentals, vacant properties, comprehensive plans, to name a few.

  • Three jurisdictions proposed short-term rental regulations (Indian Harbour Beach, Florida; Columbus, Ohio; State of Massachusetts). In Massachusetts, a piece of legislation (H.4327) passed the House that included a liability insurance mandate for hosting platforms of short-term rentals. The hosting platform definition could include real estate brokerages, particularly if they offer online bookings for short-term rentals. Further, the legislation included a requirement that hosts make short-term rental records available to the MA Dept. of Revenue. In addition, the bill included significant restrictions: limiting the number of days hosts can rent units, a requirement for hosts to obtain a business license and only units owned by primary residents to offer short-term rentals. A stripped down version (S.2400) passed the Senate. A conference committee formed to work out the differences.
  • Two jurisdictions proposed vacant property type ordinances (Oakland, California and Cleveland Heights, Ohio). The City of Oakland proposed a vacant property tax on property that is not in active use for at least 50 days per year. The tax rates ranged from $3,000 to $6,000 depending on property type. The taxes collected would be deposited in a vacant property tax fund to provide services and programs to homeless people and support affordable housing. The other city, Cleveland Heights, proposed a measure that would require a cash bond of at least $15,000 when the property is in foreclosure. The purpose of the bond is to secure continued maintenance of the property during its vacancy. Robinson & Cole recommended that the REALTOR® Association discuss the ramifications of the bond requirement for the borrower and how financial institutions recover costs and/or fees from foreclosures so the bond requirement would place additional financial burdens on property owners.
  • Local governments in historical or unique areas use design standards to ensure consistency in the look of homes or buildings within the community. A city in Illinois (Oak Park) proposed design standards in response to resident complaints about newly constructed homes that are “out of character” with the existing homes. The proposal included specific compatibility standards for new roofs, dormers, upper-story additions, windows and siding. In general, there are pros and cons to design review. If carefully implemented in an area it can enhance property values. On the other hand, design standards can be costly and may exclude affordable housing development that cannot comply with the standards.

 DOWNLOAD THIS REPORT

Key Highlights:

Twenty requests were processed during the first three months of 2018. Of the requests, 55 percent were related to rental regulations, primarily short-term/vacation rental regulations.

  • Short-term rental (STR) regulations include rental registries and/or specific zoning areas where STRs may be permitted or prohibited. Of significant note, two communities proposed registration fees that were unreasonably higher than other jurisdictions, $1000 in Orange Beach, Alabama and $904 in Walworth County, Wisconsin. Presumably, the high fees are an effort to deter property owners from renting units on a short-term basis. Typically these fees range from $100-$250. The Baldwin County Association of REALTORS® was able to reduce the $1000 fee to $500. Further, there are two pending ballot measures in California that would ban STRs. NAR’s Issues Mobilization is also involved with efforts to prevent the STR ban in Palm Springs and South Tahoe.
  • Affordable housing regulations were introduced in Telluride, Colorado. The average sales price for a townhouse/condo is over $1.1 million. Within the affordable housing package, a proposed housing mitigation fee for residential development would increase from 60 percent to 90 percent. While keeping the commercial mitigation rate at 40 percent. Housing mitigation rates are comparable to impact fees, the mitigation percentage determines the fee amount based off the new development project’s size/square footage. While the Telluride Association of REALTORS® recognize the need for affordable housing, the calculation of the mitigation fee is arbitrary, ultimately serving as a punitive measure to residential development. Not only could this proposal deter residential development in Telluride but drive it to other communities with significantly lower impact fees.
  • A Formula Business Ordinance (FBO) proposed by the City of Holmes Beach, Florida was reviewed for the REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee. FBOs have come up in other communities as an effort to protect the unique character of a community and local small to medium business owners. FBOs generally seek to prohibit group or chain stores from dominating the market. The Holmes Beach proposal is notable for two reasons: (i) FBO was targeted for a specific commercial zone rather than a broad FBO applicable to all land use zones that have been proposed in other communities and (ii) an unintended consequence would have banned real estate companies with more than 11 offices in the world, such as Keller Williams. The Sarasota REALTORS® were able to amend the adopted ordinance to specifically exclude real estate franchises from the FBO, which is considered a huge win for the association.
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Housing Opportunity Grants

Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing opportunities. Review the Frequently Asked Questions for information on criteria and funding disbursement.

Questions? Contact Wendy Penn at 202-383-7504.

Level One

Level 1 Housing Opportunity Grants can be used to hold educational activities such as a class or forum; to host a speaker(s) who can address specific affordable housing issues; or to hold a meeting with community stakeholders to develop coalition efforts.

Level 1 applications are accepted anytime from January 1 through October 1 with decisions announced approximately one week later. Grant funds are available for up to $1,500. Associations may receive a maximum of one Level 1 grant per year.

Grant funds must be used within one year of the award or be forfeited back to NAR. Grant recipients must submit an evaluation form upon the completion of the activity for which funds were awarded. A Reimbursement Request Form is required for funding disbursement.

LEVEL 1 HOUSING OPPORTUNITY GRANT APPLICATION
HOUSING OPPORTUNITY GRANT EVALUATION FORM
HOUSING OPPORTUNITY REIMBURSEMENT REQUEST FORM

Download examples of successful Level 1 Housing Opportunity Grant Applications.

Level Two

Level 2 Housing Opportunity Grants support activities that address a specific affordable housing issue in a community. Activities should involve partnerships and have a broad community reach. Activities previously supported by a grant are not eligible for additional funding.

Level 2 application deadlines are the 15th of each month from January through September with decisions announced approximately one month later. Grant funds are available for up to $5,000. Associations may receive a maximum of one Level 2 grant per year.

Grant funds must be used within one year of the award or be forfeited back to NAR. Grant recipients must submit an evaluation form upon the completion of the activity for which funds were awarded. A Reimbursement Request Form is required for funding disbursement.

LEVEL 2 HOUSING OPPORTUNITY GRANT APPLICATION
HOUSING OPPORTUNITY GRANT EVALUATION FORM
HOUSING OPPORTUNITY REIMBURSEMENT REQUEST FORM

Level Three

The Level 3 Housing Opportunity Grants support new projects or enhance existing efforts that have growth potential (that were not previously funded by the grant program). The activity must include working with at least one non-REALTOR® primary partner organization (e.g. housing nonprofit, government agency, local employer, etc.). Activities should be comprehensive, have a broad community reach, and significant REALTOR® involvement. Such activities tend to qualify for higher levels of funding than one-time events (e.g. a symposium) or efforts with limited REALTOR® involvement (e.g. studies/analyses).

Level 3 applications deadlines are the 15th of each month through September with decisions announced approximately one month later. Grant funds are available for up to $10,000. Associations may receive a maximum of one Level 3 grant per year.

Grant funds must be used within one year of the award or be forfeited back to NAR. Grant recipients must submit an evaluation form upon the completion of the activity for which funds were awarded. A Reimbursement Request Form is required for funding disbursement.

You must request an authorization code before completing the Level 3 application. Contact Wendy Penn at 202-383-7504 or wpenn@realtors.org for details.

LEVEL 3 HOUSING OPPORTUNITY GRANT APPLICATION
HOUSING OPPORTUNITY GRANT EVALUATION FORM
HOUSING OPPORTUNITY REIMBURSEMENT REQUEST FORM

Download examples of successful Level 3 Housing Opportunity Grant Applications.

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