In a press release sent out today, the Virginia Association of REALTORS® through the Virginia REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) announced its endorsement of Terry McAuliffe for Governor of Virginia. On August 20-21, 2013, both Mr. McAuliffe and Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli appeared before the RPAC Board of Trustees for separate and extensive candidate interviews. Further, each candidate submitted written responses to questionnaires developed for this race.
A quick congrats is in order to long-time VAR member Mack Strickland of Chester — president of Strickland Appraisal Services — who was named by Governor Bob McDonnell to the Real Estate Appraiser Board.
Issa says the change could save the Post Office $4.5 billion a year.
(Contrary to popular belief, the USPS does not receive federal funding. All its money comes from postage and delivery sales and services.)
Back in February we told you not to worry about Richard Cordray’s appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (There was some concern that if wasn’t confirmed, we’d be back in limbo in terms of mortgage requirements, and that would play havoc with the housing recovery.)
There’s a big deal going on in the Senate regarding tax reform.
The Senate Finance Committee has decided that the easiest way to change the tax code is to start with a blank slate — that is, start with no deductions at all, then add in the ones that are most important.
Unfortunately, in the post-Citizens United era, "most important" could easily become "what most big businesses want," rather than "what’s best for the country." Which is why NAR wants to be sure that tax incentives for homeowners — notably the mortgage interest deduction, property tax deduction, and capital gains exclusions — are at the top of the list.
About a month ago a survey was sent out to Virginia Realtors giving them the opportunity to share what they are experiencing first hand, in the field regarding the housing market.
The survey, conducted in partnership with The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, focused on the state of the residential housing market in Virginia and how those conditions changed during the first quarter of 2013.
About 70 percent of Virginia Realtors say that housing market conditions were slightly or significantly better the in the first quarter of this year, and a similar share of respondents indicated that the inventory of housing was very low.
A coupla weeks ago, we told you that Virginia senator Mark Warner — along with his colleague Bob Corker — was going to introduce a bill to essentially liquidate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two have now formally introduced the bill, which also has the backing of six other members of the Senate Banking Committee. (The tally is four Democrats and four Republicans, in case that matters to you.)
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.