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State & Local Issues Resources

There are a variety issues proposed, promulgated and regulated at the state and local levels that affect the real estate industry.   These issues include real estate transfer taxes, water rights, foreclosures, zoning ordinances, impact fees and open space requirements. NAR has developed several resources and programs for Realtor® associations to learn about and review issues that may affect their local jurisdictions and/or states, and to support any real estate interests that may be affected by these issues.   

  • Hot Topic Alerts: are occasional reports that highlight important trending real estate issues in state legislatures. The data contains a concise summary of information on a topic that has generated attention over the past six to twelve months. Hot Topic Alerts will include advocacy efforts of local REALTOR® associations. 

  • Source of Income as a Protected Class: As of March 2017, at least 13 states protect against discrimination in housing rentals based on an applicant’s source of income. Many cities and counties have enacted ordinances protecting source of income. Is this the new form of housing protection?
  • Lead Pipes and the REALTOR®: Health hazards associated with lead have been known for centuries. However, lead was the standard material used to build urban water systems for many years. In 1986, the use of lead in water pipes was banned. The Flint, MI, water crisis put a national spotlight on lead in pipes. It is estimated that there are 6.1 million lead-containing water service lines in use providing water to 15 to 22 million people. State laws generally require buyer disclosure if the seller knows something is unsafe with the water supply. There are no federal laws on disclosure requirements for lead pipes, contrary to the EPA disclosures of lead paint.

  • Rent Control White Paper: Proposals for rent control are surfacing in a few cities in California and rent control could be proposed in other areas with skyrocketing housing prices. Although rent control is prohibited in at least 27 states, rising housing costs are of great concern throughout the U.S. This white paper provides an in-depth analysis of rent controls and the impact of such laws.

  • Homeowner Associations: More than half of the owner occupied households in the U.S. are part of a homeowner association (HOA). HOAs provide a variety of services to the community in which it belongs—lawn maintenance, snow removal and uniformity in home appearance just to name a few. However, HOAs with too many restrictions may deter potential buyers. In 21 states, HOAs have “super liens” for unpaid assessments, meaning the HOA could foreclose on properties before a lender.

  • Real Estate Crowdfunding: “Crowdfunding” is a term much in vogue recently. Traditional lending sources are bypassed with crowdfunded projects, allowing individual investors to directly evaluate a proposal based on their own criteria or financial interests. The system has populist appeal: in theory, crowdfunding enables those who would otherwise be denied access to capital to move forward with a crowdfunded platform.

  • Backyard Farming: Why did the chicken cross the road? To get a bigger house with a better chicken coop. Backyard Farming is the thing to do these days. Not just in rural America but in cities of all sizes. What are some of the land use ordinances for those road crossing chickens? 

  • Complete Streets: The planning and design of our communities is changing. Planners are considering more factors to account for future growth and to accommodate the changing demands of residents. Design models focus more and more on the habits and patterns of life in the community rather than the level of service to move through the community. An important aspect of a planning today is “complete streets”—roads designed to accommodate different, co-existing types of use.

  • Drones and the REALTOR®: In the early 21st century, the term “drone” was used to refer to UAVs, and the use of drones by the U.S. military was primarily for surveillance and targeted missile strikes. Recently, as inexpensive and lightweight drones have become commercially available to the public, the focus on UAVs has shifted to use by hobbyists and businesses.

  • Rental Restrictions White Paper: In several areas around the country, local governments are seeking to regulate short-term rental housing in various ways. This white paper analyzes the issues raised by these different regulatory approaches; provides Realtors® with ways to address these issues, and outlines best practice approaches to rental housing that Realtors® can use in discussing the issue with local government officials.

  • State Issues Tracker: Provides analyses of the core state laws that affect real estate. Each analysis includes an executive summary, frequently asked questions on the issue, and the law in each state. (For NAR members only, login required.)

  • State and Local Taxation: State governments are increasingly looking to make major changes to their tax systems.  This report provides a detailed review of state and local taxation, and highlights how current tax reform efforts could have serious consequences for real estate and homeownership.

  • Growth Management Fact Book: Gives state and local REALTOR® associations a better understanding of growth management initiatives and their impact on land development and property values. (For NAR members only, login required.)

  • Land Use Initiative: Assists state and local REALTOR® associations in their public policy advocacy of land use issues by providing expert analysis of the legal, planning, economic, and environmental issues surrounding legislative and regulatory land use proposals.  All of the analyses are available for review. (For NAR members only, login required.)

  • Sales Tax on Services: Several state legislatures have considered or are currently considering expanding sales tax on services, which would have negative consequences for real estate.  Expanding or switching tax policies at the state level comes largely from an assumption that the economy is moving away from a “goods” to a “service” economy. This White Paper explores the actual figures from sales tax revenue since 1997. The paper also summarizes state REALTOR association efforts to defeat these tax proposals.

  • Land Bank White Paper:Vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties often become problems for a neighborhood and bring down nearby property values. One tool to address these problems and strengthen neighborhood is the Land Bank, a special entity that acquires problem properties in order to stabilize neighborhoods and repair the private market for real estate. Currently there are about 150 land banks in 23 states. This paper provides a comprehensive background of Land Banks and how they are formed.

  • REALTOR® Alert - Vacant Property Registration Ordinances: This three-page guide describes how Vacant Property Registration Ordinances can raise significant property rights issues and impose liability on Realtors®. Access this resource to help prepare yourself to engage local government officials on this issue. (For NAR members only, login required.)

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