6.5.17 - Keep Compliance on the Radar

As you have heard, beginning January 1, 2018 the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) will undertake greater enforcement of real estate advertising, including the new clarification on type size. Over the next several months, Michigan Realtors® will be embarking on a communications campaign to make sure that all Realtors® are informed and in compliance. LARA is indicating that it will be more active in the enforcement of real estate advertising. To that end, it is important that all Realtors® review their advertising to ensure that it satisfies the current requirements as well as those that are forthcoming on January 1, 2018.

Read more http://www.mirealtors.com/Portals/0/Documents/complianceJune17.pdf


5.23.17 – Realtor® Advocacy Month | Week 3: INVEST

Last week, Realtors® from across the state and nation headed to Washington D.C. to meet with their Congressional Representatives and Senators on issues affecting the real estate industry. The Realtors® Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo provided an excellent opportunity for members to engage with their elected officials, connect with other Realtors® from across the country, and learn exciting information about the housing and commercial markets both nationally and 


 

In addition, awards were presented to both local and state associations who excelled in their RPAC investments last year. The Michigan Realtors®, the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors®, and the Jackson Area Association of Realtors® were all presented with RPAC Performance Achievement Awards! These awards highlighted RPAC member investment efforts, along with the hard work of many dedicated Realtor® members who invest their time and energy on relaying the importance of RPAC to their colleagues! Congratulations!  

Michigan Realtors® had a strong presence at the national level during the RPAC awards and hill visits. As Realtor® Advocacy Month comes to an end, we encourage you to get involved and make your investment online today. 

Invest in RPAC http://www.mirealtors.com/Advocacy-Initiatives/RPAC

For a closer look at last week’s events, be sure to check out the Realtors® Represent photo album on the Michigan Realtors® Facebook page.

Realtors® Represent https://www.facebook.com/pg/mirealtors/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155309617688708


5.16.17 – Realtor® Advocacy Month | Week 2: ACT
















5.9.17 – Realtor® Advocacy Month | Week 1: VOTE

Michigan Realtors® Travel to Capitol Hill Next Week

The National Association of Realtors® is holding their annual meetings on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. next week during the 
Realtors® Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo (May 15-20, 2017). These meetings provide an opportunity for members to meet with their legislators on the federal level to discuss issues important to the real estate industry in Michigan and across the country.

Michigan Congressional Hill visits are currently scheduled for next week. To find out when the meeting with your member of Congress is taking place, please click on this link. This page will be updated with additional information for Michigan Realtors® attendees in the coming days, so check back often! (Attendees are also encouraged to print the web page as an excellent resource onsite.) 

While Michigan Realtors® members continue to cultivate excellent working relationships with elected officials on the federal level in Washington D.C. next week, it is equally important to foster relationships with  local and state elected officials who are pro-Realtor® party. It is vital to our industry to elect and retain those who support our efforts, and the first step in doing that is to be registered to vote! The link below provides all of the necessary information on how to register to vote in your area.

Register to vote

Realtor® Advocacy Month Resources

Take a look at who’s running for office in your community and research what they stand for. Establish a connection with the candi­dates and talk with them about policy issues affecting your business. When your candidate is elected, you will have a voice in the legislative arena that knows you!

Remember to vote Realtor® party! 


5.4.17 – Michigan House Passes "MiThrive" Brownfield Redevelopment Tax Credits

Today, the Michigan House voted to move forward legislation to help spur growth vital to our cities.

 

As a member of the #MIThriveCoalition, Michigan Realtors strongly support SB 111-115, the Transformational Brownfield legislation that will enable large-scale, economic development projects to be built across Michigan. 

 

We will continue to update the membership as these bills move through the legislative process.

 

For more information on these bills, visit http://mithrivecoalition.com.


 

5.1.17 – May is Realtor® Advocacy Month | Vote. Act. Invest

The National Association of Realtors® has announced that May is Realtor® Advocacy Month! This is a great opportunity for both Michigan Realtors®, and local associations to mobilize members, highlight advocacy success, and help meet the Vote, Act and Invest Core Standards requirements throughout May!

 

Each week in May will feature a different theme – Vote, Act and Invest. Michigan Realtors® will highlight industry information and promote advocacy activities and successes that correspond with the theme of the week. Local associations can also join in the advocacy month by posting activities, photos, or videos through the Realtor® Advocacy Month web site

  • As you are holding activities, post photos and videos of your association’s advocacy efforts on social media using the hashtags #REALTORParty and #MichiganRealtors
  • Be sure to tag (Realtor® Action Center on Facebook and @RealtorAction on Twitter) in your post.  

Realtor® Advocacy Month is about creating awareness around the great work Realtors® do to engage members, and connect with their elected officials.

 

Watch for weekly promotions, and visit our Realtor® Advocacy Month web site at http://www.mirealtors.com/Advocacy-Initiatives/Advocacy-Month to learn more about how your association can get involved!

 

 


 

 

4.18.17 – Final Numbers Place Michigan in Top 3 and Top 5! 

 

A big thank you to all who invested during Michigan’s March to Victory online RPAC campaign! Although Michigan Realtors® did not secure the top spot, we did come in 3rd place for dollars raised, and 5th place for number of RPAC Investors! This is a major accomplishment in strengthening RPAC participation in our state! 

 

While the competition from other state associations was fierce, we are all united RPAC champions for the real estate industry, and will continue to make our voices strong! 

Note: May Capitol Hill Visits Schedule Available Online

 

For those attending the 2017 NAR Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington DC, bookmark the Michigan Hill Visits page below for the latest meeting updates. The event takes place May 15-20 and allows members to interact with elected officials.

Register for Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo

View Hill Visits Schedule

 


 

2.21.17 – Local Associations Recognized for their RPAC efforts at Annual Luncheon

Michigan Realtors® would like to thank all of the local associations who made the final push for RPAC investors at the end of 2016. With last year's state RPAC goal of $800,000, Realtor® members not only met but exceeded that figure with a record breaking total of $923,000! Additionally, 29 local associations met and/or exceeded their local RPAC goal while an all-time high of 323 Major Investors participated. Local associations were honored last week at the Annual RPAC Appreciation Luncheon during Achieve, held at Motor City Casino and Hotel in Detroit.  

View Award Photos on Facebook

The winners of the 2016 Major RPAC Awards are as follows:


For Most Improved, Small Board:

Paul Bunyan Board of Realtors® 


For Greatest Overgoal, Small Board:
Battle Creek Area Association of Realtors®


For Highest Member Participation, Small Board:
Montcalm County Association of Realtors®


For Most Improved Medium Board:
Saginaw Board of Realtors®


For Greatest Overgoal, Medium Board:
Jackson Area Association of Realtors®


For Highest Member Participation, Medium Board:
Saginaw Board of Realtors®


For Most Improved,Highest Member Participation, and Greatest Overgoal, Large Board:
West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors®


For Most Improved, Mega Board:

Greater Metropolitan Association of Realtors®


For Greatest Overgoal, Mega Board:

Grand Rapids Association of Realtors®


For Highest Member Participation, Mega Board:

Greater Metropolitan Association of Realtors®

 

29 Local Associations Achieved Overgoal Status:

 

Ann Arbor Area Board

Battle Creek Area Association
Bay County Realtor® Association
Central Michigan Association

Commercial Alliance of Realtors®
Commercial Board of Realtors® 
Down River Association
East Central Association
Eastern Upper Peninsula Board

Grand Rapids Association 
Greater Kalamazoo Association
Greater Lansing Association
Hillsdale County Board
Jackson Area Association
Lenawee County Association
Livingston County Association
Mason Oceana Manistee Board

Midland Board
Monroe County Association 
Montcalm County Association
Northeastern Michigan Board

Saginaw Board of Realtors
Southwestern Michigan Association
St. Joseph County Association
Traverse Area Association
Upper Peninsula Association
Water Wonderland Board
West Central Association

West Michigan Lakeshore Association

 


 

1.18.17 – Governor Gives Shout Out To Placemaking

Last night, during his annual State of the State speech, Governor Snyder highlighted various initiatives to continue to move Michigan forward. Among them were statewide Placemaking projects to further Michigan’s comeback! 

Michigan Realtors® views placemaking projects and initiatives vital in showcasing vibrant communities all around the state. We continue to be an integral partner with local Realtor® associations, along with many community programs to collaborate on placemaking projects through our Lighter Quicker Cheaper Initiative (LQC). These LQC projects create a sense of place in communities, and make them a better place to live, work and play.

If your community group or local association has placemaking ideas, be sure to visit our LQC placemaking webpage. Here, you can find information on applying for grants that support small projects, or funding for a bigger community project where there are other entities involved.  Applications are taken through October of each calendar year. You can also read about recent successful Placemaking projects that were heavily created and crafted by fellow Realtors®! 

http://www.mirealtors.com/Education-Events/Lighter-Quicker-Cheaper-LQC

 

 


 

1.17.17 – Governor Snyder Presents Annual State of the State Address Tonight

Tonight, Governor Snyder will give his annual State of the State address. According to most political pundits around Lansing, expect to hear about infrastructure, job creation, education, and the Flint water crisis. The address will focus on the state’s accomplishments of last year as well, such as propelling Michigan to be more business-friendly, and driving down the unemployment rate while driving up the state’s population during the yearly joint session of the House and Senate.
 
Governor Snyder will also highlight other top priorities for 2017, which include local government pension reform, investing in infrastructure, placemaking, and transforming the state into the leader in global mobility. Michigan Realtors® will continue to work with the administration, along with legislators on both sides of the aisle to boost Michigan’s economy and homeownership, and keep the real estate industry safe from burdensome regulation.
 
To watch the State of the State Address live tonight, check your local listings, or view online here.

 


 

1.10.17 – Update on Dower Repeal and its Effective Date

In its lame duck session, the Legislature passed a package of bills, approved by the Governor, eliminating Michigan dower. Effective April 6, 2017, transfers of real estate in Michigan are no longer subject to a potential dower claim, with the exception of property owned by men who die before the effective date. 

For men who have died before April 6, 2017, a widow may still elect dower, in preference to taking under his will or a statutory share as described in MCL 700.2202(2). The time for her to elect may vary (63 days after the date for presentment of claims or within 63 days after service of the inventory upon the widow, whichever is later). 

If a man dies on or after April 6, no claim for dower survives. Note that a number of title companies plan to wait until April 7, 2017 to account for the repeal. Also, be aware that there is still a provision of law, MCL 565.221, requiring the marital status of each male grantor or mortgagor to be stated on a conveyance for it to be eligible for recording. There seems to be no point for that provision once dower is eliminated. It is hoped that a repeal of that provision could follow soon.

The bills, SB 558SB 560,  and HB 5520  eliminate statutory and common law dower and remove dower from the Estates and Protected Individual Code and the required provisions of a divorce judgment. (The amendment concerning divorce judgments takes effect earlier, on March 22, 2017, but is not likely to affect real estate transactions.) Michigan is the only state with dower for wives only and the bills remove dower as a longstanding issue in real property title and transfer, as well as any issues that might be raised by its application to same sex marriage. As a practical matter, dower is almost never exercised in Michigan, in any event. 

 


 

1.9.17 – Update: Governor Signs Senate Bill 26 into Law

Today, Governor Snyder signed Senate Bill 26 into law, making it Public Act 502 of 2016. All sections, unless otherwise noted,  are effective March 29, 2017.

 

As reported previously, Public Act 502 of 2016 provides all of the following:

 

1. Allows a licensee to authorize LARA to communicate with that licensee via email. Oddly enough, this was not permitted under existing rule and statute.

 

2. Codifies and clarifies the concept of "distance learning", which is defined to include "instruction provided through an interactive classroom, computer conferencing or an interactive computer system." This definition of “distance learning” will allow for licensees to continue to meet their education requirements through emerging technology. 

 

3. Clarifies the existing rule that a branch office maintained in excess of 25 miles from the limits of the municipality in which the broker maintains a main office shall be under the direct supervision of an associate broker.   Direct supervision shall mean that an associate broker is physically present at the branch office on a regular basis to supervise and manage the business during ordinary business hours. This has always been the Department's position. However, clarifying this rule in statute is intended to protect members from inadvertent violations. 

 

4. Eliminates the requirement that the listing broker furnish a complete closing statement if the closing is conducted by a title company. This would alleviate concerns created by TRID where a broker is unable to fulfill his or her obligation under the rule due to a lack of access to the necessary information from each party.  

 

5. Increases the limit on broker's own funds in trust account from $500 to $2,000 to address minimum account requirements by most banks.

 

6. Establishes an 18-month deadline for filing a complaint against a licensee under the Occupational Code or related rules.  Currently no limitation exists on the amount of time for a complaint under Article 25. This would mirror what the Home Builders currently have under Article 24 and limit the potential for stale regulatory claims.

 

7. Codifies and clarifies procedure for renewing licenses which have lapsed for less than 3 years. This would allow LARA to renew if the business entity/individual pays an application fee, late renewal fee, and the per-year license fee for the upcoming license period, shows proof that the necessary CE has been taken, designates a principal (where applicable).

 

8. The above changes will be important for Michigan Realtors® to fully understand. To that end, Michigan Realtors® is developing guidance on the above changes and will begin publishing them in the New Year.

 

9. Codifies and clarifies the intent of the Brokerage Advertising Rule by giving LARA a measurable standard for complaints over advertising and presentation of the brokerage to the public. In doing so, the bill provides that the name of an associate broker, salesperson, or team in advertising cannot be in larger type size than the name of the supervising brokerage. The statutory language provides the department with an objective standard, focusing solely on type size as the measurable standard. Recognizing that this clarification may require changes to existing signage, Michigan Realtors® argued that the measurable size requirement would not take effect until January 1, 2018.

 

Public Act 502 of 2016 represents two years of hard work between bill sponsor Senator Mike Kowall (R-White Lake), the Michigan Realtors®, and LARA in identifying rules that are either in conflict with statute, already provided for in law, or exceed the Department’s authority. Michigan Realtors® believes this legislation will greatly benefit the consumer and provide greater efficiencies for the real estate industry in Michigan.  Michigan Realtors® will publish guidance on the changes in the coming weeks.

 


 

1.8.17 – Dower Repeal Signed by the Governor

Dower Repeal legislation now Public Acts 378, 489 and 490 of 2016

Recently, Governor Snyder signed legislation into law eliminating Dower in Michigan. The three-bill package eliminates Dower and references to Dower Rights in Michigan. After the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Michigan's Dower Rights statute came under scrutiny by outside groups and the legislature. Specifically, the constitutionality of all gender-based laws came into question. Since Michigan's Dower is limited to the "wife" and the requirements of Dower created transactional uncertainty and clouds on title, the preferred approach by the legislature and stakeholder groups like Michigan Realtors® was to pursue elimination of Michigan's arguably unconstitutional approach to Dower.

For those unfamiliar with Dower, upon the death of her husband, a wife is entitled to the use – during her lifetime – of 1/3 of all lands owned by her husband during the marriage. It is important to note that Dower is an expectancy only, meaning that her rights only vest if a wife survives her husband. As a practical matter, this right is rarely, if ever, exercised upon the death of a husband. Instead, a widow in Michigan has the alternative of electing a share of all of the property of her husband at the time of his death.  It is rarely the case that an interest in the income from one-third of real property he had owned would exceed that.

However, Dower’s existence as expectancy does mean that during a marriage, a husband may not convey (or mortgage) any property owned by him alone without his wife’s signature. This signature requirement has created difficulties in the transacting of real estate, creating uncertainty, and otherwise encumbering closings and creating clouds on title. This requirement is compounded by the fact that Dower applies to real estate which a man owns during the marriage, regardless of whether he owned it before the marriage or it was conveyed to him alone. 


 

1.4.17 – Visions for the Year Ahead

By Jason Copeman, 2017 Michigan Realtors® President  

Well, the holidays have passed and the New Year has begun. This is often the time of year for resolutions and setting goals…contemplating ways to make the coming year better or more fulfilling. As your Michigan Realtors® 2017 President, I have a goal of leading our organization into the future with sights set on higher levels of participation. This can be through involvement in leadership at the local, state, and national levels, higher numbers in our very important “calls to action,” more members contributing to the ever-growing need for critical RPAC funding or even someone bringing along a first-time attendee to conference. There are many avenues from which to inspire increased participation. What is your resolution or goal for the New Year? Something worthy of considering is a commitment to volunteerism; an objective that is easy to obtain as well beneficial to both you and the community at large. 

Congratulations to those Realtors® who’ve been so impressively committed to volunteering this past year and in prior years. Your dedication to our local, state, and national associations is invaluable. I personally consider volunteers to be the root of our strength as an association. Congratulations to those just beginning their journey as well. We’re always looking for ways to encourage involvement, and our organization and state can only benefit from your contributions. If you’re having difficulty finding a good place to start, there are a variety of opportunities and resources available for your use at www.mirealtors.com.

While you’re there, make sure to check out Achieve, the Michigan Realtors® premiere leadership event. This year Achieve will take place on February 15-16, 2017 at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. Realtors® at all levels of involvement; industry leaders, committee members, association executives and those just preparing to start their journey, will come together to network and mingle with the best in real estate. Embrace the opportunity to sharpen your leadership skills with various CE Marketplace certified knowledge sessions and inspiring speakers. We will also be celebrating newly-elected Michigan Realtors® officers and directors as they enter their leadership roles within the association. Online registration for Achieve is open and I look forward to seeing you there.

2017 is your year to reach your goals, both personally and professionally. Whether it’s reading more books, selling more houses, or just spending more time with those important to you, no amount of work is too much work when it comes to bettering your life.

Also, don’t forget the importance of balance! I’m excited to embark on this journey with you all as your President, and I look forward to helping Michigan Realtors® reach its full potential as an organization. 

Thank you.

 


 

12.20.16 – A Year in Review: Legislative Highlights

As the legislative session comes to an end, we celebrate Realtor®-friendly policymakers in both the State House and Senate for their work on legislation important to your business. As we move into a new legislative session in 2017, Michigan Realtors® will continue the fight to protect our industry, protect your pocketbook, and protect private property rights. 

Advocacy accomplishments and legislative highlights of 2016 include:

  • Supported legislation creating a flat filing fee for recording documents (SB 599-604, now Public Act 224 of 2016);
  • Supported legislation that ensures all classes taken through the CE Marketplace are guaranteed to be audit proof (Public Act 30 of 2016);
  • Defeated legislation to adversely revise annexation requirements (HB 4004);
  • Supported legislation clarifying the condo reversion process to allow for easier FHA lending (SB 610, now Public Act 233 of 2016);
  • Supported legislation protecting against Patent Trolls (SB 289);
  • Defeated legislation that required statewide mandated septic inspections (HB 5732);
  • Supported legislation that allows for easier investment in RPAC through dues billing (SB 571);
  • Supported legislation protecting landlords in their right to restrict the use of marijuana in rental properties (SB 72);
  • Supported legislation repealing Dower Rights (SB 558560HB 5520);
  • Supported legislation codifying several important administrative rules, while implementing protections, efficiencies, and clarifications to Article 25 of the Occupational Code (SB 26);
  • Defeated regulation attempting to change the State of Michigan affidavit of affixtures process for mobile homes;
  • Created a partnership between Michigan Realtors®, the Attorney General’s office, and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in stepping up enforcement against unlicensed real estate activity (Toll Free Consumer Hotline: 877-765-8388);
  • And, defeated a proposal attempting to eliminate the appraiser position on the Michigan Tax Tribunal (SB 537).

Looking ahead, work will begin on a slate of new legislative initiatives, such as transfer tax reform, the development of a First Time Homebuyer Savings Account, and protecting the practice of vacation rentals in Michigan. Happy Holidays! 

 

Dower Repeal and Licensing Law Enhancements Await Governor's Signature 

Two Michigan Realtors®-supported legislative initiatives made their way to the Governor's desk before session concluded last week. 

Dower Repeal (Senate Bills 558, 560 (Jones - R-Grand Ledge) & HB 5520 (Kesto, R-Commerce Township)

The three-bill package eliminates Dower and references to Dower Rights in Michigan. After the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Michigan's Dower Rights statute came under scrutiny by outside groups and the legislature. Specifically, the constitutionality of all gender-based laws came into question.  Since Michigan's Dower is limited to the "wife" and the requirements of Dower created transactional uncertainty and clouds on title, the preferred approach by the legislature and stakeholder groups like Michigan Realtors® was to pursue elimination of Michigan's arguably unconstitutional approach to Dower.

For those unfamiliar with Dower, upon the death of her husband, a wife is entitled to the use – during her lifetime – of 1/3 of all lands owned by her husband during the marriage.  It is important to note that Dower is an expectancy only, meaning that her rights only vest if a wife survives her husband.  As a practical matter, this right is rarely, if ever, exercised upon the death of a husband. Instead, a widow in Michigan has the alternative of electing a share of all of the property of her husband at the time of his death.  It is rarely the case that an interest in the income from one-third of real property he had owned would exceed that.

However, Dower’s existence as expectancy does mean that during a marriage, a husband may not convey (or mortgage) any property owned by him alone without his wife’s signature. This signature requirement has created difficulties in the transacting of real estate, creating uncertainty, and otherwise encumbering closings and creating clouds on title. This requirement is compounded by the fact that Dower applies to real estate which a man owns during the marriage, regardless of whether he owned it before the marriage or it was conveyed to him alone. 

License Law Improvement - SB 26 (Kowall - White Lake)

Michigan Realtors® Public Policy Committee, with recommendations from a Board of Directors-appointed Licensing Task Force, worked diligently over the past two years in shaping legislation that would codify and clarify several administrative rules, enhance professionalism within the industry, and eliminate cumbersome and outdated regulations.  

After an audit by the Office of Regulatory Reinvention, it was determined that the Real Estate Occupational Code required significant revision to remain a stable regulatory framework. While the audit identified a significant number of rules that required codification in statute, opening the Code also offered an opportunity to address several substantive changes that LARA and your volunteer member leadership felt would benefit the consumer and improve the industry. 

The below list outlines SB 26’s most significant clarifications and changes to the Michigan Real Estate Occupational Code:

1. SB 26 allows a licensee to authorize LARA to communicate with that licensee via email. Oddly enough, this was not permitted under existing rule and statute.

2. SB 26 codifies and clarifies the concept of "distance learning", which is defined to include "instruction provided through an interactive classroom, computer conferencing or an interactive computer system." This definition of “distance learning” will allow for licensees to continue to meet their education requirements through emerging technology. 

3. SB 26 clarifies the existing rule that a branch office maintained in excess of 25 miles from the limits of the municipality in which the broker maintains a main office shall be under the direct supervision of an associate broker.   Direct supervision shall mean that an associate broker is physically present at the branch office on a regular basis to supervise and manage the business during ordinary business hours. This has always been the Department's position. However, clarifying this rule in statute is intended to protect members from inadvertent violations. 

4. SB 26 will codify and clarify the intent of the Brokerage Advertising Rule by giving LARA a measurable standard for complaints over advertising and presentation of the brokerage to the public. In doing so, the bill provides that the name of an associate broker, salesperson, or team in advertising cannot be in larger type size than the name of the supervising brokerage. The statutory language provides the department with an objective standard, focusing solely on type size as the measurable standard. Recognizing that this clarification may require changes to existing signage, Michigan Realtors® successfully argued that the measurable size requirement would not take effect until January 1, 2018. 

5. SB 26 eliminates the requirement that the listing broker furnish a complete closing statement if the closing is conducted by a title company. This would alleviate concerns created by TRID where a broker is unable to fulfill his or her obligation under the rule due to a lack of access to the necessary information from each party.  

6. SB 26 increases the limit on broker's own funds in trust account from $500 to $2,000 to address minimum account requirements by most banks.

7. SB 26 established an 18-month deadline for filing a complaint against a licensee under the Occupational Code or related rules.  Currently no limitation exists on the amount of time for a complaint under Article 25. This would mirror what the Home Builders currently have under Article 24 and limit the potential for stale regulatory claims.

8. SB 26 codifies and clarifies procedure for renewing licenses which have lapsed for less than 3 years. This would allow LARA to renew if the business entity/individual pays an application fee, late renewal fee, and the per-year license fee for the upcoming license period, shows proof that the necessary CE has been taken, designates a principal (where applicable).

The above changes will be important for Michigan Realtors® to fully understand. To that end, Michigan Realtors® is developing guidance on the above changes and will begin publishing them in the New Year.

 


 

11.29.16 – Dower Repeal Legislation passes House Judiciary Committee: Package of Bills will be up for consideration in Lame Duck Session

Today, a package of bills that repeals Dower rights passed through the House Judiciary Committee. The three-bill package (Senate Bills 558, 560, and House Bill 5520) repeals Dower and references to Dower Rights in Michigan.

After the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Michigan's Dower Rights statute came under scrutiny by outside groups and the legislature. Specifically, the constitutionality of all gender-based laws came into question.  Since Michigan's Dower is limited to the "wife" the preferred approach by the legislature and stakeholder groups like Michigan Realtors® was to pursue elimination of Michigan's arguably unconstitutional approach to Dower. As it stands, Michigan is the only state that has Dower for wives only.

With “lame duck” session underway, there are only a handful of days that the legislature will convene before the end of the year. However, it is the hope of the bill sponsors, Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and Representative Klint Kesto (R- Walled Lake) that these bills will be signed into law before the current legislative cycle ends. This change should also provide needed clarity with regard to the treatment of Dower in real estate transactions involving a same-sex couple.  Michigan Realtors® will continue to monitor these bills as they wind through the legislative process. 



 

11.7.16 – Make your voice heard: Vote for the Realtor® Party!

The Michigan Realtors®, in conjunction with an extraordinary effort by many local associations and state RPAC Trustees, have made General Election endorsements at both the state and federal levels. Statewide, only the Michigan House of Representatives (with the exception of one Michigan Senate seat) is up for this election cycle. On the federal level, endorsements have been made for the U.S. House of Representatives as well. You can find a list of all Michigan Realtors® General Election endorsements here:

 

View Endorsements: http://www.mirealtors.com/Advocacy-Initiatives/Elections

 

In addition, Michigan Realtors® General Election Voter Guide Cards have been sent in the mail to all members to use as a reference at the polls this year. The Voter Guide Card displays endorsed candidates on the state and federal levels who support real estate industry issues, such as:

  • the protection of private property rights,
  • preserving the American dream of home ownership,
  • and continuing the fight for tax reforms and reducing burdensome regulations on our business.

Make this the year that you protect your business by becoming more involved! Vote for the Realtor® Party Tuesday, November 8th!


 

10.19.16 – Senate Bill 26 Passes Unanimously through Senate Committee; Bill Now Heads to the Senate Floor for Consideration

Today, the Senate Regulatory Reform committee unanimously voted for passage of Senate Bill 26. This bill aims to identify areas of the current Real Estate Occupational Code and Rules in need of revision or codification. This bill is part of an ongoing effort by the State Office of Regulatory Reinvention to look at each license and determine where streamlining and efficiencies can be found to help reduce the burden on small business, and increase consumer protection.

Senate Bill 26 represents two years of hard work between bill sponsor Senator Mike Kowall (R-White Lake), the Michigan Realtors®, and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in identifying rules that are either in conflict with statue, already provided for in law, or exceed their authority. Michigan Realtors® believes this legislation will greatly benefit the consumer and improve the real estate industry in Michigan. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. 


 

10.14.16 – LARA and Attorney General Partner in Tracking Unlicensed Real Estate Practitioners

Effective immediately, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is announcing its partnership with Attorney General Bill Schuette in stepping up enforcement against unlicensed real estate practitioners. For the past several months, Michigan Realtors® have led discussions with both departments about this important initiative to deal with the rise in unlicensed real estate activity.  

This is an extraordinary opportunity to hold accountable those who unlawfully practice real estate. This new partnership aims to keep consumers safe, and will investigate and prosecute unlicensed individuals.

Below is the information where members and consumers may submit their complaints of unlicensed activity:

Consumer Complaint - Online Form

Consumer Complaint - PDF Form

Toll Free Consumer Hotline: 877-765-8388 

Local Consumer Number: 517-373-1140


10.13.16 – 2016 General Election Endorsements

With a tremendous effort from local associations and the RPAC Trustees Committee, below is the 2016 Michigan Realtors® list of Endorsed Candidates for the General Election. 

 

A big thank you to all of our members who volunteer their time and efforts in this year’s endorsement process. It greatly assists in fostering relationships between elected officials and the real estate industry. Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 8th!


 

9.6.16 – Tim Skubick to Speak at RPAC Appreciation Breakfast

Long-time Capitol Political correspondent Tim Skubick will be the guest speaker at this year’s RPAC Appreciation Breakfast, taking place on Thursday, October 6th during The Convention at Soaring Eagle Resort in Mt. Pleasant.

 

Mr. Skubick has been covering Michigan politics and government for over 40 years. Mr. Skubick is the anchor and producer of “Off the Record” – as seen on WKAR-TV. He holds BA and MA degrees from Michigan State University. This is a great opportunity to hear his take on all things elections and get the inside scoop on the political climate here in Michigan.

 

Due to limited space and increased demand, RPAC Investors of $200 or more are invited to attend this special event. If you haven’t invested in RPAC yet, now is your chance! The deadline to get in your $200 investment in order to attend the RPAC breakfast is Monday, September 12th. Don’t miss this event!

 

To invest online, click here.


7.26.16 - Realtors® Vote on August 2nd!

With a tremendous effort from local associations and the RPAC Trustees Committee, below is the 2016 Michigan Realtors® list of Primary Endorsed Candidates. 

 

A big thank you to all of our members who volunteer their time and efforts in the endorsement process. It greatly assists in fostering relationships between elected officials and the real estate industry. Remember to vote in the Primary on August 2nd!


6.14.16 - NAR Call to Action: Tell Congress to Expand FHA Condo Financing – Support H.R. 3700!

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act”, by a remarkable unanimous vote of 427-0. This important, widely supported legislation will expand housing opportunities for first-time homebuyers and low-income rental housing residents, ease restrictions on existing homeowners and landlords, streamline rural housing programs, and save taxpayers money.   While H.R. 3700 passed the U.S. House unanimously, it has failed to come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate. This legislation provides significant benefits to taxpayers, homebuyers and the real estate market by:

Removing a burdensome and expensive FHA Condo approval process
Reducing FHA restrictions on the number of condos available to homebuyers
Permanently streamlining Rural Housing Service loan processing
 
In addition to the above relief, H.R. 3700 contains a number of provisions that will ease restrictions on the purchase of condominiums. Today, less than 10% of condominiums nationwide are eligible for purchase with FHA mortgage insurance. This leaves first-time homebuyers, urban dwellers, and seniors wanting to downsize without access to what is often the most affordable homeownership option. H.R. 3700 makes common sense adjustments to these burdensome restrictions, will expand housing opportunities, and will protect taxpayers. 
 
While H.R. 3700 passed the U.S. House 427-0 with NO OBJECTIONS, it has failed to come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate.  

Take Action now, and urge your U.S. Senator to Pass H.R. 3700, and send this important legislation to the President!


6.9.16 - Improvements to the Michigan Tax Tribunal Process Overwhelmingly Pass the House

Yesterday, the Michigan House of Representatives passed HB 5578 with strong bi-partisan support, voting 97-11. HB 5578 is sponsored by Representative and Realtor®-member David Maturen (R-Brady Township). The Realtor®-supported legislation would place generally accepted appraisal principles at the forefront of any commercial assessment dispute before the Michigan Tax Tribunal. 

Over the last two years, Michigan Realtors® has been an active stakeholder in the debate related to the over-assessment of commercial properties and the successful use of vacant and heavily deed-restricted property as value comparables. Early on, the Michigan Realtors® Public Policy Committee advocated for fair valuation with cautiousness towards legislative over-correction. As passed by the House, HB 5578 represents a measured piece of legislation that provides the Michigan Tax Tribunal with sound statutory guidance relevant to resolve commercial assessment disputes. Additionally, the legislation would provide parties that appear before the Michigan Tax Tribunal greater transparency relative to how the Tax Tribunal arrived at a particular decision.

HB 5578 now heads over to the Senate for consideration in the coming weeks. Michigan Realtors® will continue to support the bill through the legislative process.


6.7.16 - Michigan Realtors® Issues Mobilization Fund: Why it was created, and why it is important to you

Over the last several years, The Issues Mobilization Fund (IMF) has evolved into one of the most versatile and important advocacy tools at your disposal. The IMF has been utilized to:

  • Pass two statewide ballot proposals – notching victories to strengthen protections against eminent domain protection and eliminating the personal property tax.
  • The IMF has also been used to successfully fight against detrimental and overreaching local sign, septic, and rental ordinances that impact Realtors® day-to-day business.
  • Develop legislation to help the industry such as the Commercial Broker Lien Act (Public Act 201 of 2010) and the Agency Responsibility Act (Public Act 91 of 2008).
  • Successfully advocate for the election of two Realtor® members to the state legislature, and elect Realtor® champions to Michigan’s Supreme Court through independent expenditure campaigns. 

Now that 2017 dues billing is beginning, you will notice an increase in your IMF assessment from the previous years’ $3, to $40. This increase was approved by the Michigan Realtors® Board of Directors and Delegate Body (a statewide committee made up of two representatives from each local association) to effectively address the growing advocacy threats to our industry. With an increasing number of threats to our industry and private property rights, current funding levels would have been significantly depleted by 2018.

To better explain the IMF and its past success, Michigan Realtors® has developed a frequently asked questions, fund comparison chart, and infographic. 

The IMF materials can be found here:

http://mirealtors.com/Advocacy-Initiatives/IMF

In addition, Michigan Realtors® is proud to announce the roll-out of a new Issues Mobilization Hotline to alert the state association of emerging issues affecting your business. The hotline number is 517-252-4549.


 

5.5.16 - Michigan Realtors® Travel to Capitol Hill Next Week

The National Association of Realtors® is holding their annual meetings on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. next week during the Realtors® Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo (May 9-14, 2016). These meetings provide an opportunity for each state association to meet with their legislators on the federal level to discuss issues important to the real estate industry in Michigan and across the country. It is expected that Michigan will be well represented in Washington D.C., with over 200 attendees already registered.

Michigan Congressional Hill visits are currently scheduled. To find out when the meeting with your member of Congress is taking place, please click on this link. This page will be updated with additional information for Michigan Realtors® attendees in the coming days, so check back often! Attendees are also encouraged to print this web page as an excellent resource onsite.

 


 

5.4.16 - Understanding the Role of Transaction Coordinator

Assume that a friend of yours calls and asks you to assist him on the sale of his cabin to his neighbor. Since he already has a buyer, he does not need to list the property, but he does need help putting the transaction together and getting the sale closed. For many Realtors®, the difficult question here is not how to put the deal together, but rather in what capacity the Realtor® should serve. 

Obviously, the friend does not need a traditional listing agent, but should the Realtor® set up some type of agency relationship with the seller? Or should the Realtor® act as a transaction coordinator? Can the Realtor® charge for his/her services? As will be discussed below, while in this scenario it is certainly possible for the Realtor® to help his friend (and get paid for his work), because of its limitations, a transaction coordinator role may not be the best choice.  

Read more


4.7.16 - Take Note: Important Information for Landlords and Property Managers

According to new guidelines from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), Realtors® who discriminate against ex-convicts in leasing or renting property could have liability under the Fair Housing Act. This week HUD released guidance related to the treatment of a current or prospective tenant’s criminal background history and any negative impact on housing opportunity. Specifically, HUD’s guidance seeks to “address how the discriminatory effects and disparate treatment methods of proof apply in Fair Housing Act cases in which a housing provider justifies an adverse housing action – such as a refusal to rent or renew a lease – based on an individual’s criminal history.” HUD’s guidance is intended to raise awareness and encourage a fresh review regarding current policies and procedures employed by property management firms and landlords . However, a better understanding of disparate impact liability under the Fair Housing Act is essential to understand the impact of HUD’s recent guidance. The Legal Affairs Department of the National Association of Realtors® published a best practices document in response to the HUD guidance. Both documents are accessible at the following links. Should you have additional questions or concerns, please contact Brian Westrin at bwestrin@mirealtors.com or 517-372-8890 for further discussion. 


 

3.15.16 - Important Revisions to the Condo Act Pass Out of the Senate

Legislation modifying the condominium development process passed unanimously in the Senate. Senate Bill 610, sponsored by Realtor® member and Senator Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) amends the Condominium Act to revise provisions under which a developer may withdraw undeveloped portions from a project, or convert them to “must be built.” SB 610 is receiving wide-ranging support from the real estate and home building industry. Its passage would create a clearer roadmap for the Developers and Condominium Associations when considering the future of a development and how to treat undeveloped property – eliminating automatic triggers that could create unintended consequences for all interested parties. 

Further, this bill would address some FHA Approval issues that members have been experiencing when marketing condominiums, by allowing greater flexibility in meeting occupancy and ownership requirements for a condominium development. The bill now heads to the House Local Government committee for consideration. We will keep you updated as this bill moves through the legislative process. 

 


 

2.24.16 - 2016 Election Cycle: Realtor® Voter Registration

2016 is an important election year. It’s a Presidential year, and Congressional and State House campaigns are gearing up for the August Primary and the November General Election. Your local associations and Michigan RPAC will again be conducting candidate interviews and endorsing candidates that support Realtor® issues. Most importantly, before deciding who will win your vote, you must be registered to vote!

The Secretary of State’s website contains a wealth of information regarding registering to vote, polling sites, candidates running in your area, and absentee ballots. Please visit them at www.michigan.gov/sos. You can also register to vote by simply visiting any Secretary of State branch in Michigan. It is an easy and pain-free process!

 

So, you’ve recently moved and can’t recall if you registered to vote in your new neighborhood. To find out, visit the Michigan Voter Information center at www.michigan.gov/vote. This web site will tell you if you are in fact registered, and where to go to cast your ballot in August and November. It is also a very helpful web site to let homebuyers know of as well, especially if they are new to a particular area.

 

Statewide 90% of Realtors® are registered to vote. Let’s continue to make our voice heard in Lansing and in Washington D.C.!

 


 

1.26.16 - Local Associations Recognized for their RPAC efforts at Annual Luncheon

The Michigan Realtors® would like to thank all of the local associations who made the final push for RPAC investors at the end of 2015. With a state RPAC goal of $750,000, Realtor® members met and exceeded it with a final total of over $805,000! In addition, 27 local associations met and/or exceeded their local RPAC goal!  In the end, state RPAC contributions were at 104% of state goal! Local Associations were honored last week at the Annual RPAC Appreciation Luncheon during the Achieve conference at the Dearborn Inn.  

The winners of the 2015 Major RPAC Awards are as follows:

For Most Improved, Small Board:
Detroit Association of Realtors® 

For Greatest Overgoal, Small Board:
The Commercial Alliance of Realtors®   

For Highest Member Participation, Small Board:
The Saginaw Board of Realtors®  

For Most Improved Medium Board:
The Grosse Pointe Board of Realtors®  

For Greatest Overgoal, Medium Board:
The West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors® 

For Highest Member Participation, Medium Board:
The Greater Kalamazoo Association of Realtors® 

For Most Improved,Highest Member Participation, and Greatest Overgoal, Large Board:
The Grand Rapids Association of Realtors® 

27 Local Associations Achieved Overgoal Status:
Ann Arbor Area Board
Battle Creek Association
Bay County Realtor® Association
Central Michigan Association
Commercial Board of Realtors® 
Down River Association
East Central Association
Eastern Upper Peninsula Association
Greater Kalamazoo Association
Greater Lansing Association
Hillsdale County Board
Jackson Area Association
Lenawee County Association
Livingston County Association
Mason Oceana Manistee Board
Monroe County Association 
Montcalm County Association
Northeastern Michigan Board
Southwestern Michigan Association
St. Joseph County Association
Traverse Area
Upper Peninsula
Water Wonderland Board
West Central Association


 

1.25.16 - Detroit Storm Water Drainoff Policy Decision May Impact Commercial Properties

This information is primarily intended for Commercial Realtor® members. Many of you may be aware that commercial property owners in Detroit are assumed to be billed for their share of the cost of operating the Storm Water Drainoff System (SWDS), a system put in place pursuant to a Consent Judgement entered into with the Environmental Protection Agency to address pollution overflow and runoff into the Detroit and Rouge Rivers. The cost of operating this system requires that the City of Detroit take in approximately $106,000,000 in fees each year. Given this substantial sum, each commercial property was intended to pay based on its individual usage to account for the management of the SWDS.

Fast forward to 2015, in an effort to make sure each using property was being assessed properly, aerial mapping and research was undertaken to identify the universe of subject properties within the SWDS. It was determined that there was a marked disparity between the total number of properties using the system and the actual number of properties being assessed to pay for the system. What does this mean for those paying and those not paying? The answer to this question is currently being debated by City of Detroit officials.

We do know that by July 1, 2016, all non-residential properties of .25 acres of more will be assessed. While a policy decision by the City of Detroit has not been formalized, one significant concern for Commercial Realtors® is the monetary impact that could be imposed upon those properties that have been using the system but have never been billed. Since these fees can reach $745.52 per acre per month, the treatment of the newly identified properties remains a huge concern for current owners and marketability. 

The City of Detroit now must determine whether to assess the newly identified properties prospectively or whether it will have a charge-back against the previously unassessed properties. That charge-back, if implemented, would probably be for no more than a three-year period. If a charge-back is implemented, the current owner of the previously unassessed properties could receive a substantial bill for the use attributable to their property. Further, marketing of these properties raises the issue of how to disclose information regarding a potential charge-back. While the issue is arguably a matter of public record and commercial transactions generally involve fairly sophisticated parties, a Commercial Realtor® may well save a client (buying, selling, or leasing) a significant amount of trouble by discussing how to address potential impacts from the SWDS on a transaction.

Michigan Realtors® will update its membership as soon as the City of Detroit makes a concrete determination.


 

12.16.15 - Governor Snyder Signs House Bill 4173

Bill provides clarity regarding Michigan’s Transfer Tax

Legislation providing clarity regarding Michigan’s Transfer Tax has been signed into law by Governor Snyder.

 House Bill 4173, now Public Act 217 of 2015, sponsored by Realtor®-member and Representative Dave Maturen (R-Brady Twp.) revises the Michigan Real Estate Transfer Tax to clarify two items:

1.  The party that paid the transfer tax may request the refund if a refund is due, and

2.  Clarify that Exemption “U” applies when the SEV at the time of sale is less than or equal to the original SEV.

The Michigan Supreme Court recently broadened the application of Exemption “U” by removing the requirement that True Cash Value be realized in a transfer. Public Act 217 reflects this change, offering important clarity and tax relief to distressed sellers. In addition, this new law gives buyers the same refund rights as sellers when it is determined that the transfer tax was paid unnecessarily. 

The application and refund process can be found here 

This association applauds Representative Maturen, along with the members of the House, Senate, and the Governor, for recognizing the importance of this legislation for home buyers and sellers in Michigan.  We appreciate their willingness to move it forward in a bipartisan manner for passage into law.


12.15.15 - Legislative Wrap-Up

With only 2 more days on their legislative calendar for the year, the House and Senate have entered the homestretch for 2015. Throughout the year, Michigan Realtors®has worked diligently with legislators in both the House and the Senate to develop and pass legislation for the benefit of the real estate industry in Michigan. While playing both offense and defense on specific legislation doesn’t always result in new state law, your voice at the Capitol remains active and effective. In 2015, Michigan Realtors® was able to leave its imprint on several pieces of legislation. Some of these bills became law and some of them, thankfully, did not. Below is an overview of some of your Association’s legislative accomplishments for 2015:

·       Legislation signed Into Law:

Tax Records:

One of the biggest successes this association had this year was the passage of legislation to provide for accurate and affordable tax record data. House Bill 4075, now Public Act 39 of 2015, keeps the cost of access to tax record data reasonable. REALTORS® know better than anyone that access to basic public information relating to property tax records is important for the daily operation of those working within the real estate industry. We truly thank Representative Bruce Rendon (R-Lake City) for his sponsorship of this bill.

Road Funding:

Michigan Realtors® was part of a coalition of businesses and local governments aimed at identifying and safeguarding a sustainable funding source for the repair and maintenance of Michigan’s roads. Through the work of the coalition and the diligence of the Michigan Legislature, Governor Snyder signed into law a $1.2 billion dollar investment in safer and better roads for Michigan. The plan takes $600 million from the General fund. In addition, it creates new revenue with:

§  An increase in the gas tax by 7.3 cents, taking it to 26.3 cents per gallon. Diesel tax, which is currently at 15 cents per gallon, will match the gas tax at 26.3 cents. This change is projected to bring in $400 million.

§  Registration fees will increase by about 20% across the board, which is projected to bring in another $200 million. These changes will take effect in January of 2017.

 This plan will be completely phased in by 2021, which by that time, the plan will have its full $1.2 billion amount.

·       Legislation awaiting Governor’s Signature

Transfer Tax Updates:

Legislation providing clarity regarding Michigan’s Transfer Tax is on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature. House Bill 4173, sponsored by Realtor®-member and Representative Dave Maturen (R-Brady Twp.) will revise the Michigan Real Estate Transfer Tax to clarify two items:

1.     The party that paid the transfer tax may request the refund if a refund is due, and

2.     Clarify that Exemption “U” applies when the SEV at the time of sale is less than or equal to the original SEV.

The Michigan Supreme Court recently broadened the application of Exemption “U” by removing the requirement that True Cash Value be realized in a transfer. The legislation reflects this change, offering important clarity and tax relief to distressed sellers.  In addition, this bill gives buyers the same refund rights as sellers when it is determined that the transfer tax was paid unnecessarily.

·       Legislation in process

Tax Tribunal Reform:

Michigan Realtors® was successful in protecting the Appraiser position on the Michigan Tax Tribunal, while continuing to work positively with stakeholders towards improvements to Michigan’s tax appeal process. 

Taxation of Big Box Retailers:

Michigan Realtors® was an active opponent of legislation aimed at limiting the rights of commercial property owners to challenge their property taxes and assessment. While the debate over Big Box taxation continues, the Michigan Realtors® was successful in making sure the dialogue continues with all perspectives present.

Continuing Education Enhancements:

 Legislation streamlining and creating efficiencies in Michigan’s real estate regulations continues to be worked on in the Senate. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, is proposing several changes to the administrative rules governing real estate brokers and salespersons. The Department has identified several rules that are either in conflict with the statue, already provided for in law, or exceed their authority. As such, they are looking to eliminate the bulk of these rules and move others into statue to specifically give them the authority to enforce.    Michigan Realtors® has formed a task force to look at these specific issues and hope to address the various concerns in 2016.

Solicitation of Publicly Recorded Documents

We have worked cooperatively with Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) on Senate Bill 366, aimed at curtailing an abusive and deceptive practice of soliciting individuals by mail on the need for readily available (but not mandatory) public documents. This legislation would put an end to communications indicating a requirement that you secure a copy of you deed at an exorbitant amount.  Real estate licensees, however, would be exempted from the regulation.  This bill has passed unanimously in the Senate, and is awaiting a hearing in the House Commerce and Trade committee.

Principal Residence Exemption on REOs

Senate Bill 81, introduced by Senator Jack Brandenburg (R-Harrison Twp) would allow lenders to keep the Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) on properties they take back into inventory after foreclosure.  The PRE will allow prospective buyers to qualify for financing at the lower tax rate and begin paying the lower taxes immediately upon moving into the home.

This bill attempts to address the current process whereby banks are required to file paperwork to retain the PRE while paying a new specific tax to make up for the non-homestead mills.  This bill passed the Senate this year, and is in the House of Representatives awaiting a vote.

Annexation

House Bill 4004, sponsored by Representative Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth) effectively grants a township board an absolute veto of annexation elections. HB 4004 exempts charter townships from annexation, prevents property owners and voters from initiating changes to municipal boundaries and prevents/discourages consolidation of local government administration and its services. This bill is a reintroduction of prior legislation to address past hostile annexation efforts. This was introduced with the unfortunate case between Northville Township and Livonia (2006 – 2008) in mind. As longtime stakeholders in this discussion, Michigan Realtors® has worked with the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and the Michigan Homebuilders Association to craft various compromises to address scenarios like the one that transpired in Northville Township.

Currently, the Michigan Realtors®, Homebuilders, and MML are well aligned in opposition. We continue to keep lines of communication open and are prepared to actively oppose HB 4004 should it continue through the legislative process in 2016.

Be sure to check out the last Public Policy Videocast of 2015 tomorrow for the latest details wrapping up the year.

As always, we will continue to keep you updated on all issues and policies that impact the real estate industry in 2016. From all of us at the Michigan Realtors®, Happy Holidays! 

 


 

11.3.15 - Watch Government Affairs Vodcast and Participate in Latest NAR Call for Action

As we head into November, there are a few items in the Michigan legislature that we continue to support. Watch the latest Government Affairs Vodcast for information on issues including transfer tax clarifications, TRID, and “dark stores” legislation. Tune in to stay informed!

Watch November Vodcast

While work continues on issues at the state level, there has been a federal issue that has the real estate industry uniting in one voice. Congress is looking for funding for transportation programs, and is considering utilizing guarantee fees (g-fees) to fund these programs. NAR strongly believes that taking g-fees would also prevent Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from effectively managing their risk. Please “Take Action” below on the latest NAR Call for Action, to prevent the federal government from placing any unnecessary long-term burden on American homeowners!

Take action!

 

 


 

10.19.15 - Tell Congress to stop taxing homeowners to fund transportation projects

On Thursday, October 22, 2015, the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will begin consideration on the surface transportation reauthorization legislation.

One proposal would use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s credit risk guarantee fees (g-fees) to fund transportation programs.  Take action now to prevent Congress from placing an unnecessary long-term burden on American homeowners with a new Transportation Tax.

NAR strongly believes that a new tax on homeowners would also prevent Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from effectively managing their risk.

Tell Congress to STOP the Housing Tax for Transportation!

Take Action!


10.7.15 - 2015 RPAC Silent and Live Auction Wrap Up

One of the biggest highlights each year during the Michigan Realtors® Convention and Expo is the RPAC Silent Auction. Local Realtor® associations from around Michigan generously contribute items, contributions, and gift baskets to the exciting event, which grabs the attention of everyone who attends! This year’s items included vacation get-away packages, home and office decor, electronics, and even a kayak! The hard work and effort that local association’s put in to this year’s auction is truly appreciated, and participants had a tough time deciding on which items to bid on.

 

In addition to the Silent Auction a Live auction was also featured this year, and included exciting items such as a helicopter ride, a craft brewery tour, and even a motorized cooler! In total, both the Live and Silent Auctions brought in over $16,000 for RPAC! That is a record achievement!

 

A big “thank you” to all who placed their bids and who continue to promote and protect the real estate industry through investing in RPAC!

 


 

9.2.15 - Should We Amend Our Purchase Agreement Forms to Accommodate TRID Delays?

 

In recent months, a number of local associations and Realtor® firms have asked whether they should amend their purchase agreement forms to address anticipated closing delays caused by TRID compliance. Michigan Realtors® has not revised its purchase agreement form and this article will explain why that is. 

Realtors® may recall that under TRID, a buyer/borrower must receive a Closing Disclosure form no less than three (3) business days prior to closing. A Closing Disclosure is considered “received” three (3) business days after it is sent. Thus, in the ordinary course, typically six (6) business days will be required for compliance with the time requirements for the Closing Disclosure form. (However, if the lender has evidence that the borrower actually received the Closing Disclosure form earlier, the lender may rely on that evidence and consider it to be received on that date.) If the Closing Disclosure form is later revised, then the timing requirements can be triggered again. (Only certain revisions retrigger the 3-day waiting period however: (1) changes to the loan’s APR; (2) changes to the loan product; and (3) the addition of a prepayment penalty.) 

Read more

 

 


 

8.13.15 - Study finds Michigan ranks 7th Highest Property Taxes in U.S.

According to a recent study done by WalletHub.com, Michigan has the 7th highest property taxes in the U.S.  The average American household spends $2,089 on property taxes for their homes each year. However, Michigan’s average is $3,168. 

“While Michigan’s housing market continues to improve and in some communities flourish, high state property taxes have remained a critical issue, without any signs of tax relief on the horizon,” says Gene Szpeinski, 2015 Michigan Realtors® President.  “The housing market is a driving force in this state’s economy, and it is time to take a deeper look into this issue in order to continue on the path of economic recovery for our state and its property owners.” 

For the full list of state rankings, please visit here.


7.16.15 - NAR CALL TO ACTION: Stop Patent Trolls

The National Association of REALTORS®, along with the Michigan Realtors® asks that you contact your U.S. Representative and urge them to support common sense patent reform that protects innocent businesses from patent trolls. Main Street businesses, including real estate, have been forced to divert resources to fight off frivolous patent infringement claims, instead of investing in our economy here at home. Comprehensive patent reform legislation that addresses this issue will do much to protect our members and promote the main street economy.

By way of background, patent trolls buy questionable, overly broad patents and then use them to demand companies pay licensing fees, which turn common business practices into potential lawsuits.

HR. 9, the Innovation Act, and S. 1137, the PATENT Act, have the reforms needed to protect small businesses’ like ours. Businesses of all sizes – from construction and technology businesses to retail shops, hotels, grocers, convenience stores, and restaurants – have been the victims of unnecessary lawsuits and overly broad claims. H.R. 9 is scheduled for House Floor consideration next week.

Take Action Now 


7.13.15 - The Michigan Supreme Court Restores State Transfer Tax Exemption

Last week there was good news from the Michigan Supreme Court (“MSC”) for Michigan home sellers whose homes have declined in value since they purchased them. In a welcome decision, the Majority clarified a confusing element of “Exemption (u)” under the State Real Estate Transfer Tax Act (“SRETTA”).

 

There has never been any question that Exemption (u) requires that the SEV of the home at the time of sale be equal to or less than the SEV at the time of purchase. The confusion over Exemption (u) has been over the meaning of the following language: “If after an exemption is claimed under [Exemption (u)], the sale or transfer of property is found by the treasurer to be at a value other than the true cash value, then a penalty equal to 20% of the tax shall be assessed . . . .”  The property owners in Gardner v. Dep’t of Treasury, argued that “true cash value” as used in Exemption (u) means the same as “fair market value,” while Treasury took the position that “true cash value” as used in Exemption (u) should have the same meaning as it does for purposes of the General Property Tax Act, that is, twice the SEV. The Court of Appeals agreed with Treasury and took that interpretation one step further and held that because Exemption (u) refers to a sale price “other than” true cash value, Exemption (u) could only be applied in a situation where the sale price of the home is exactly equal to twice the SEV. The Court of Appeals effectively eliminated Exemption (u).

 

The Michigan Realtor® Legal Action Committee joined in the effort to overturn the Court of Appeals’ decision. Additionally, Realtor® and State Representative Dave Maturen (R-Brady Twp.) introduced HB 4173 to restore the commonly understood application of the exemption and undo the Court of Appeals decision. Ultimately, the MSC summarily reversed the Court of Appeals, and held that for purposes of Exemption (u), “true cash value” means the same as “fair market value” – that is, the price at which a willing buyer and a willing seller would arrive through arm’s length negotiation.

 

The MSC’s determination that “true cash value” as used in Exemption (u) really means the fair market value that a willing buyer and seller can agree upon through arm’s length negotiation broadens the application of Exemption (u) is a win for home sellers. Under current Michigan law, the party that is responsible for the SRETTA is the seller or transferor or the property. The MSC’s ruling could increase the number of sellers that qualify for Exemption (u). The total impact and resulting refunds is not entirely clear. The Michigan Department of Treasury currently allows sellers to reach back and seek refunds up to 4 years and 15 days from the transfer. It is unclear what the retroactive application of the MSC’s ruling will be. Realtors® who have represented sellers for the past 4 years whose SEV was lower in the year of sale than in the year of purchase who did not claim Exemption (u) should consider contacting their former clients to have them file for a refund. There is nothing to lose and only goodwill to be gained.

 

The Michigan Realtors® will be working with Representative Maturen to ensure HB 4173 accomplishes the most favorable results for Michigan property buyers and sellers.

 

The following link will take you to the Transfer Tax Refund Form:

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/2796f7_2601_7.pdf

 

 7.7.15 - Work Continues on Transfer Tax Legislation

Although the legislature is on summer break, Michigan Realtors® continue to meet with interested parties to discuss legislation streamlining the refund process when dealing with the transfer tax.  House Bill 4173, introduced by Realtor®-member and State Representative Dave Maturen (R-Brady Twp.) has moved through the House and has passed the Senate Finance Committee. It is now awaiting a vote on the Senate floor once the legislature returns.

Under Michigan law, a seller may apply for a refund where the transfer tax was paid in error, or unnecessarily. This refund is available to the seller for a period of 4 years and 15 days from closing. However, it is not uncommon for a buyer to pay the transfer tax at closing, especially when buying from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  Currently, there is no mechanism for a buyer to seek a refund where the transfer tax was paid, unless they go back to Fannie and Freddie to apply for a refund. The legislation would streamline the refund process for both buyers and sellers.

Michigan Realtors® believe that the refund should be available to the party that paid the tax. We will continue to update the membership as this bill moves through the legislative process. 

 

 

6.12.15 - U.S. Senate Committee Votes to Block Clean Water Rule

Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-9 along party lines to advance a measure to kill the Obama administration's controversial new regulation asserting control over small waterways like streams and wetlands.

S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, requires the Obama administration to withdraw its recently finalized Waters of the U.S. rule and sets new criteria for how a future rule should be developed and what streams and wetlands should and shouldn't qualify for Clean Water Act protection. The bill sets out specific waterways that cannot be regulated, like isolated ponds, and requires the EPA to consult with various state and local governments and small businesses when it rewrites the rule. The bill passed on a party line vote, no Democrats crossed over. Several amendments were introduced, but none were accepted. A similar bill passed the House earlier this past May.

At this time, there is no time frame for when S. 1140 may move to the Senate floor for a vote. The National Association of Realtors® will be working with the Waters Advocacy Coalition to develop a strategy to push for a vote on the Senate floor at some point over the summer. We will continue to monitor this issue as it progresses. 


6.10.15 - Local Associations Recognized on Mackinac Island for 2014 RPAC Accomplishments

Michigan Realtors® recently held their annual RPAC awards on the beautiful and historic front porch of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island during the Centennial Celebration.  A big thank you to all of the local associations who made the final push for RPAC investors at the end of 2014! With a state RPAC goal of $698,000, Investments from REALTOR® and affiliate members crushed that goal with a final total of $775,000! 2014 was the greatest single year in the history of RPAC! In addition, 23 local associations met and/or exceeded their local RPAC goal. 

The winners of the 2014 Major RPAC Awards are as follows:

For Greatest Over Goal

Small Board: The Commercial Alliance of REALTORS® 

Medium Board: The West Michigan Lakeshore Association of REALTORS®

Large Board: The Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS®

 

For Highest Member Participation:

Small Board: Battle Creek Area Association of REALTORS®

Medium Board:  West Michigan Lakeshore Association of REALTORS®

Large Board: Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS®

 

For Most Improved:

Small Board: Saginaw Board of REALTORS®

Medium Board: East Central Association of REALTORS® 

Large Board: Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS®

 

Congratulations to the following local associations who exceeded their state RPAC Goal in 2014!:

Ann Arbor Board of REALTORS®

Battle Creek Association of REALTORS®

Central Michigan Association of REALTORS®

Commercial Alliance of REALTORS®

Commercial Board of REALTORS®

Down River Association of REALTORS®

Eastern Upper Peninsula Board of REALTORS®

East Central Association of REALTORS®

Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS®

Greater Kalamazoo Association of REALTORS®

Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS®

Jackson Area Association of REALTORS®

Livingston County Association of REALTORS®

Midland Board of REALTORS®

Mason Oceana Manistee Board of REALTORS®

Monroe County Association of REALTORS®

Montcalm County Association of REALTORS®

Northeastern Board of REALTORS®

Saginaw Board of REALTORS®

Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS®

St. Joseph County Association of REALTORS®

Traverse Area Association of REALTORS®

West Michigan Lakeshore Association of REALTORS®


And new to 2014, below are the following winners of the Performance Achievement Awards:

Ann Arbor Board of REALTORS®

Battle Creek Association of REALTORS®

Branch County Board of REALTORS®

Eastern Upper Peninsula Board of REALTORS®

East Central Association of REALTORS®

Eastern Thumb Association of REALTORS®

Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS®

Greater Kalamazoo Association of REALTORS®

Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS®

Hillsdale County Board of REALTORS®

Jackson Area Association of REALTORS®

Livingston County Association of REALTORS®

Midland Board of REALTORS®

Mason Oceana Manistee Board of REALTORS®

Montcalm County Association of REALTORS®

Saginaw Board of REALTORS®

Traverse Area Association of REALTORS®

Upper Peninsula Association of REALTORS®

Water Wonderland Board of REALTORS®

West Michigan Lakeshore Association of REALTORS®


6.2.15 - Governor Signs Legislation Promoting More Access to Tax Record Data

Governor Rick Snyder has signed important legislation promoting access to property tax records. Sponsored by Representative Bruce Rendon (R – Lake City), House Bill 4075 became Public Act 39 of 2015. 

Access to property tax information is important to the health of Michigan’s real estate market. Realtors® work every day marketing commercial property to help grow economic opportunity and jobs in our state. Realtors® also sell residential property to Michigan citizens and visitors from other states and countries. As a part of these transactions, disclosing in a timely manner this vital public information about a property is important. Potential private property owners need access to this public information to promote quality tax planning and decision making. This realizes a healthy transaction. 

 

The new law modernizes the Transcripts and Abstracts of Records Act (TARA) of 1895 to promote more reasonable costs of property tax record information that is electronically collected by counties.  This legislative initiative continued from extensive work done during the last legislative session. The Michigan Realtors® are thankful for quick attention by House Local Government Committee Chair Lee Chatfield (R – Levering) and Senate Local Government Committee Chair Dale Zorn (R – Ida) to this issue through the Committee process and all legislative efforts in the House and Senate to advance this legislation early in the current legislative session.


5.18.15 - Michigan Realtors® Take Their Message to Washington D.C.

Realtors® from across the country convened in Washington, D.C., last week to attend the Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. Over 185 members from across Michigan met with U.S. Senators and congressional staff on Capitol Hill to advocate policies that protect and advance investment in residential and commercial property and that are critical to buyers, sellers and investors in their communities. Watch for the full story in the upcoming June issue of Michigan Realtor® Magazine.

 


5.6.15 - Michigan Realtors® Head to Capitol Hill Next Week

The National Association of Realtors® will be holding their annual meetings on Capitol Hill during the REALTOR® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, May 11th-16th. These meetings provide an opportunity for each state association to meet with their legislators on the federal level to discuss issues important to the real estate industry in Michigan and across the country. It is expected that Michigan will be well represented in Washington D.C., with over 200 attendees already registered.

 

Michigan Congressional Hill Visits are currently scheduled. To find out when the meeting with your member of Congress is taking place, view the online schedule. This page will be updated with additional information for Michigan Realtors® attendees in the coming days, so bookmark and check back often.

 

For more information on this exciting real estate event, be sure to check out these facts in this info graphic.

 


4.29.15 - May 2015 Vodcast


3.23.15 - Special Assessments Payable in Installments

The Michigan Legislature recently amended the Township Improvement Act to address the situation whereby all future installments of a special assessment must be paid in full when a house is sold. Under this legislation, if a special assessment is payable in installments, the lien covers only the particular installment that is due.

The problem with the legislation is that it doesn’t come close to covering all types of municipal special assessments. There are twenty or so different statutes authorizing local governmental units to impose a special assessment. The new legislation only covers assessments imposed by townships (not by cities or counties) and not even all township assessments. It is also not clear whether the change covers future installments of an existing special assessment or only assessments imposed after the legislation was enacted.

Some purchase agreement forms condition the responsibility for payment of a special assessment on whether or not it is a lien.  For example:

SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS which are a lien on the property before the date of Closing will be paid by SELLER.

Now, when this proration language is used, a seller’s responsibility for future installments of a special assessment will depend on the type and timing of the special assessment in question.

In order to avoid this confusion, Realtors® are encouraged to use purchase agreements that do not condition responsibility for future installments of a special assessment on whether or not the installments are currently a lien on the property. A purchase agreement form can simply refer to responsibility for “all future installments of any special assessment” without reference to whether or not these installments are “a lien.” By avoiding the lien discussion, parties can avoid having to figure out whether all future installments of a particular assessment currently are or are not a lien on the property.

Michigan REALTORS’® purchase agreement form (Form A), for example, provides:

SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS: All special assessments for municipal improvements which have become a lien on the property shall be paid by the Seller, provided, however, that in the event a special assessment is payable in installments, current and future installments shall be  allocated between Seller and Buyer using the same method for the proration of real estate taxes in paragraph 7 above; or  paid in full by Seller at closing.

 


2.25.15 - Great News for Buyer Clients Seeking Transfer Tax Refund! 

By Brian F. Westrin, Esq., Director of Legal Affairs

Do you have a buyer client who paid the transfer tax on a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac property? We have great news to report - A refund mechanism is now available.

By way of background, a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals determined last year that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are federal agencies exempt from State and County real estate transfer taxes. This 6th Circuit ruling overturned a lower court that said Michigan counties could collect such taxes from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have steadfastly claimed that they remain exempt from all taxes of this nature, both agencies either already utilized or elected to adopt contract addendums to indemnify themselves from any unforeseen taxes on a sale, shifting the potential burden to the buyer during the pendency of the above court proceedings.

For a buyer that paid the transfer tax pursuant to an agreement with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision was slightly less satisfying. While Michigan law provides that a seller is responsible for payment of County and State transfer taxes, a seller can contractually agree to have a buyer assume that obligation. Michigan law also provides for a refund mechanism, available to sellers having paid the tax in error or unnecessarily. The same refund mechanism had not been directly available to buyers having paid the tax – until now.

The Michigan Department of Treasury has posted new instructions for affected buyers to directly apply for refunds on transfers concerning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The instructions and the refund form can be accessed here: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/2796f7_2601_7.pdf

The prompt provides:

“For property owners who purchased from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac: If you are seeking a refund of the SRETT paid on the purchase of the home, complete this form (2796) as if you were the seller of the home. You must attach the following documents with the completed form: 

  • Copy of your Settlement Statement (HUD-1)
  • Copy of your RECORDED DEED containing the tax stamp.”

If you have a client in this situation, you can provide them with the above information and advise them to contact Treasury with any questions. The direct contact for State Real Estate Transfer Tax inquiries is (517) 636-0515.

A similar exemption is available for the County Real Estate Transfer Tax. While Counties may have varying approaches to refunds, it is worth advising your client to contact their County Treasurer to inquire about the process.

The Michigan Realtors® is also supporting House Bill 4173, introduced by Representative David Maturen (R- Indian Lake), to enshrine into state law a buyer’s right to apply for a transfer tax refund.  The bill would also clarify the application of exemption ”u” under the State Real Estate Transfer Tax Act to mirror the important 2008 Attorney General Opinion. As many of your will recall, exemption “u” offers potential tax relief for sellers whose property has declined in value from the time it was originally purchased to the time it was sold.  We will continue to update you on the progress of this important legislation.

 

 


 

2.25.15 - Great News for Buyer Clients Seeking Transfer Tax Refund!

By Brian F. Westrin, Esq., Director of Legal Affairs

Do you have a buyer client who paid the transfer tax on a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac property? We have great news to report - A refund mechanism is now available.

By way of background, a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals determined last year that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are federal agencies exempt from State and County real estate transfer taxes. This 6th Circuit ruling overturned a lower court that said Michigan counties could collect such taxes from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have steadfastly claimed that they remain exempt from all taxes of this nature, both agencies either already utilized or elected to adopt contract addendums to indemnify themselves from any unforeseen taxes on a sale, shifting the potential burden to the buyer during the pendency of the above court proceedings.

For a buyer that paid the transfer tax pursuant to an agreement with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision was slightly less satisfying. While Michigan law provides that a seller is responsible for payment of County and State transfer taxes, a seller can contractually agree to have a buyer assume that obligation. Michigan law also provides for a refund mechanism, available to sellers having paid the tax in error or unnecessarily. The same refund mechanism had not been directly available to buyers having paid the tax – until now.

The Michigan Department of Treasury has posted new instructions for affected buyers to directly apply for refunds on transfers concerning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The instructions and the refund form can be accessed here: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/2796f7_2601_7.pdf

The prompt provides:

“For property owners who purchased from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac: If you are seeking a refund of the SRETT paid on the purchase of the home, complete this form (2796) as if you were the seller of the home. You must attach the following documents with the completed form: 

  • Copy of your Settlement Statement (HUD-1)
  • Copy of your RECORDED DEED containing the tax stamp.”

If you have a client in this situation, you can provide them with the above information and advise them to contact Treasury with any questions. The direct contact for State Real Estate Transfer Tax inquiries is (517) 636-0515.

A similar exemption is available for the County Real Estate Transfer Tax. While Counties may have varying approaches to refunds, it is worth advising your client to contact their County Treasurer to inquire about the process.

The Michigan Realtors® is also supporting House Bill 4173, introduced by Representative David Maturen (R- Indian Lake), to enshrine into state law a buyer’s right to apply for a transfer tax refund.  The bill would also clarify the application of exemption ”u” under the State Real Estate Transfer Tax Act to mirror the important 2008 Attorney General Opinion. As many of your will recall, exemption “u” offers potential tax relief for sellers whose property has declined in value from the time it was originally purchased to the time it was sold.  We will continue to update you on the progress of this important legislation.

 


 

2.20.15 - March 2015 Capitol Report

By Brad Ward, Michigan Realtors® Vice President of Public Policy & Legal Affairs

We Don’t Look a Day Over 99

Hear ye. Hear ye. Ok, so Michigan Realtors® isn’t as old as the profession of Town Crier, but we are turning 100 this month. This March 4th marks the association’s 100th birthday and we will be celebrating in style with a Lansing advocacy day highlighting current issues important to our membership. It should come as no surprise that TODAY'S legislative issues of professionalism and education are the same that brought Michigan Realtors® together those many years ago, to stop "curbstoning" (ok, now there is an olde tyme phrase that does fit the early 1900's lexicon).

The Michigan Realtors® began in 1915 as the Real Estate Association of the State of Michigan. It was founded on the same principles as our National counterpart--to effectively exert “a combined influence upon matters affecting real estate.” Within the next year, the term “Realtor®” became part of the lexicon, denoting professional membership within the National Association and an adherence to its strict code of ethics. Since that time, we have used our collective voice to shape and influence the real estate industry. Throughout the years, Michigan Realtors® has left an indelible mark on the State's property rights, economy, and greater good. This rich tradition is kept alive today by the dedication of so many volunteer members at the local, state, and national levels.

Licensing

Michigan’s current real estate licensing framework came about in 1980 with the adoption of the State's Occupational Code. The Occupational Code established a regulatory frame for each licensed profession. As a specialized profession where real estate brokers and salespersons act as fiduciaries for their clients, licensing is important to protect consumers in, what for many will be, the single largest financial transaction of their life. The education and training of real estate professionals makes certain each licensee promotes fair housing and can walk their clients through the legalities and dynamics of a complex transaction. 

Michigan Realtors® is still working to improve and protect the real estate license. Last year, we made huge strides to improve continuing education, giving licensees control by making education more responsive to their needs and changes in the market. Michigan Realtors, through our CE Marketplace, is using our experience and certifying courses based on Department audit standards. Furthermore, the CE Marketplace, through a grant from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), is helping all real estate licensees track their continuing education credits.

Additional work continues this year through Senate Bill 26, Sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall (R- White Lake), to streamline current real estate regulations and more clearly define the relationship between Michigan Realtors® and LARA when it comes to continuing education. LARA and the Michigan Realtors® have worked over the last several months to identify licensing rules that exceed the Department's authority, are duplicative, or no longer relevant. SB 26 is currently in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee where Committee Chairman Senator Tory Rocca (R- Sterling Heights) has promised swift action this year.

Disclosure in Real Estate Transactions

In 1993 Michigan was on the cutting edge by adopting the Michigan Seller's Disclosure Act. With its passage, Michigan law required a person selling residential property to tell a prospective buyer certain things about the propertys physical condition. Under the act, a seller must disclose this information by completing a written disclosure statement and giving it to the buyer. Though the form has become routine for many members, it marked a significant development for real estate transactions. The form promoted additional transparency in the transaction to protect buyers, sellers, and their agents from fraud and other deceptive practices. Over the years, Michigan Realtors® has promoted openness and education in transactions through changes to the Seller's Disclosure form and access to public information.

Last year, Michigan Realtors® supported legislation to cap the cost of the bulk purchase county property tax records. Many local associations and multiple listing services are in the practice of purchasing property tax records for their members. These records provide information vital to the transaction such as special assessment and tax billing data. In the past few years some counties have sought to abuse their ability to charge for this information, charging local associations nearly $30,000 annually for these records. Keep in mind that this is public information, when price becomes a barrier to access they cease to be available to the public.

At the end of December, the clock ran out on legislation sponsored by Representative Bruce Rendon (R-Lake City) that would cap the purchase price of this specific information at $1500. Identical legislation has been reintroduced this year by Representative Rendon in the form of House Bill 4075. It is anticipated that the bill will again go to the House Local Government Committee, now under the chairmanship of freshman Representative Lee Chatfield (R- Levering). Your Michigan Realtors® Public Policy staff is meeting with the new Chairman and members of the committee to educate them on the importance of HB 4075 to the openness and transparency of real estate transactions.

Real Estate Transfer Tax

Perhaps the most significant change to property values and the real estate transaction came in 1994 with the passage of Proposal A. Until 1994, property taxes were based on a propertys assessed value or an amount equal to 50% of the propertys market value. This meant that property taxes went up and down in close relation to an increase or decrease in property value. With the passage of Proposal A, however, the tax was stabilized. In fact, some of the tax burden was shifted from property to sales tax, which was increased from 4% to 6%.  The other piece to come out of Proposal A was the state real estate transfer tax – a seller’s obligation of .75% of the sales price towards the state School Aid Fund.

The transfer tax currently provides that a seller may apply for a refund where the transfer tax was paid in error or unnecessarily. This refund is available to the seller for a period of 4 years and 15 days from the qualifying transfer. However, it is not uncommon for the buyer to assume payment of the transfer tax or other taxes through contract – especially when buying from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. There is currently no mechanism for the buyer to seek a refund where the transfer tax was paid in error or unnecessarily. The Michigan Realtors® believes that the refund should be available to the party that paid the tax. It would be a value to many buyers who purchased homes during the housing market downturn and paid the transfer tax through contract only to find out after payment that the seller was statutorily exempt from transfer tax.

Furthermore, in 2008, the Attorney General issued an opinion that exemption “u” of the transfer tax applied when a property’s State Equalized Value (“SEV”) on the date of sale was less than the SEV on the date the seller originally purchased the property, provided, that the seller did not sell the property for more than it true cash value. As an example, if the SEV on a piece of property on the date the seller purchased it was $100,000, and the SEV on the date the seller thereafter sold the property was $99,000, the seller was entitled to an exemption from transfer tax if he or she did not sell it for more than $198,000 (i.e., two times $99,000). This exemption has had widespread applicability over the past few years as the housing market continues to recover. Unfortunately, a recent published Court of Appeals decision misapplied the 2008 Opinion and narrowed the exemption’s applicability significantly, creating uncertainty. The Michigan Realtors® believes the 2008 Opinion should be codified to better clarify exemption “u” for the protection of buyers and sellers.

New Realtor® legislator, Representative Dave Maturen (R- Vicksburg) will introduce a bill this session to address both of these concerns. Representative Maturen was appointed to Vice Chair of the House Tax Policy Committee and is currently laying the ground work for a committee hearing early this year.

We have come a long way in our 100 years, and age isn't slowing us down. Michigan Realtors® continues to be on the cutting edge of trends in real estate law and policy. We hope that you will join us for our Birthday Celebration in Lansing on March 4th to educate our state legislature on these important issues and to move our association into the next 100 years.    

 


 

2.13.15 - February 2015 Vodcast

 


1.21.15 - Affordable, Accurate Tax Records Continue to Be a Top Priority

Last week, the Michigan legislature kicked off the 2015 legislative year. The Michigan Realtors® continue the push for reasonable costs for property tax information. Legislation will be reintroduced this cycle that modernizes the Transcripts and Abstracts of Records Act (TARA) of 1895. 

Arising out of a court case, some counties are charging for electronic records based on the TARA Act. This has caused the price of tax records purchased by local associations and members to become unreasonable. This legislation would cap at $1500 per pull county-wide electronic tax record information. 

Last cycle, this particular legislation passed the House 110-0, however, with the time crunch of  “lame duck” session, it unfortunately did not move any further in the process. Our hope is to have this bill introduced in the next few weeks, with passage through both legislative chambers. We will continue to keep you updated as this issue progresses. 

 


 

1.5.15 - 100 Year Celebration Kicks Off with Legislative Day on March 4th

Michigan Realtors® will be hosting a Legislative Day and Centennial Celebration on Wednesday, March 4th in Lansing. This is an opportunity for Realtor® members to listen to top legislative state officials speak on a variety of issues not only facing the real estate industry, but the state as a whole.

The day begins with a morning legislative panel made up of members of the House of Representatives, followed by a luncheon recognizing the association and its inception 100 years ago. The program then resumes with an afternoon panel made up of Michigan Senators. Take advantage of an optional State Capitol Tour as well! Realtor® members who have a keen interest in government and legislative affairs will not want to miss this event!

Register Online

 


 

12.10.14 - Realtor®-Supported Legislation on the Docket in Lame Duck Session

Even though there are only a handful of session days left in the current legislative cycle, there are a few bills that remain priorities to get done yet this year:

Appraisal Qualification Standards – HB 5860 (SUPPORT)
House Bill 5860, sponsored by Representative and Realtor®-member Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) brings Michigan Appraisal Qualifications into compliance with the Appraisal Qualification Board (AQB) standards. These standards must be updated from time to time to allow Michigan Appraisers to perform federally regulated transactions, (which include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that  currently make up 70%-80% of all real estate transactions in Michigan.

Passage of HB 5860 is critical by the end of the year in order to comply with 3 items cited by federal auditors in September. Those citations are:
  • Updating our statutory definition of AQB Criteria to reflect the latest iteration. This also includes making sure the rule making process is not an endless one.
  • Change the definition of “limited real estate appraiser” so that our law does not conflict with the AQB standards.
  • Update our use of the Uniform Standards of Appraisal Practice (USPAP). The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is already in the rule making process on this change, and their only suggestion is to strike the date currently in the statute.

Tax Record Information – HB 5822 (SUPPORT)
This bill, sponsored by Representative Bruce Rendon (R-Lake City) modernizes the Transcripts and Abstracts of Records Act (TARA) of 1895 to provide reasonable cost of property tax record information that is electronically collected by counties in Michigan. It would cap at $1,500 per pull county-wide electronic tax record information.  

Both of these bills received consideration on the House floor this week, and we are hopeful that they continue through the legislative process before the end of this legislative cycle, which contains only 6 more days. Michigan Realtors® will continue to keep you updated on these bills as things progress.

11.17.14 - NAR Call to Action: Urge Congress to extend Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Tax Relief

Recently, the National Association of Realtors® has sent out a membership-wide Call to Action, one addressing the U.S. House and one addressing the U.S. Senate, regarding Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Tax Relief. This is a high priority of NAR during the last weeks of lame duck session in Washington, and we urge all members to take action.

 

To take action now, please click on the link below:

 

https://realtorparty.realtoractioncenter.com/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=3381&utm_source=rac&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=taxRelief2014.

 

 

Thank you in advance for your participation in protecting and promoting the housing market in this state, and nationwide!


 

11.11.14 - 2014 Election Recap

With a tremendous effort from local associations and the RPAC Trustees committee, Michigan Realtors® had a 98.7% success rate with state and federal general election endorsements. 

On the State level, Governor Rick Snyder will remain at the helm of the executive branch, and both the Michigan House and Senate will continue with Republican control. The Senate now has a 27-11 Republican Majority, and the House Republicans gained seats for a 63-47 Majority. New leadership has recently been announced in both chambers as well:

  • Senate Majority Leader: Senator Arlan Meekhof (R-Olive Twp)
  • Senate Majority Floor Leader: Senator Mike Kowall (R-White Lake Twp.)
  • Senate Minority Leader: Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint)
  • Senate Minority Floor Leader: Senator Morris Hood III (D-Detroit)
  • Speaker of the House: Representative Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant)
  • House Majority Floor Leader: Representative Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton)
  • Representative Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) will remain at his post as House Minority Floor Leader.

A big thank you to all of our members who volunteer their time and efforts in the endorsement process. It greatly assists in fostering relationships between elected officials and the real estate industry.

For a list of election winners, please click here

 


10.30.14 - Make Your Voice Heard - Vote Realtor® Party November 4th!

The Michigan Realtors®, in conjunction with an extraordinary effort by many local associations and RPAC Trustees, have made election endorsements at both the state and federal levels. This includes the unanimous endorsement of Governor Rick Snyder at the top of the ticket. Governor Snyder has been a champion for our industry by passing measures that eliminate burdensome regulation on businesses while attracting and retaining real estate investment in Michigan. He continues to successfully reshape Michigan’s economy, which in turn, spurs our housing market across the state.

In addition to Governor Snyder’s endorsement, all of the Michigan Realtors® endorsed candidates can be found here.

 


 

10.14.14 - Vote Realtor® Party: Watch for Your Realtor® Voter Card in the Mail!

The Michigan Realtors®, in conjunction with an extraordinary effort by many local associations, has made endorsements for candidates running for State Senate and the Michigan House of Representatives. Be watching your mailbox in the coming weeks for your Realtor® voter guide card in the mail to use as a reference at the polls this year. The voter guide card displays endorsed candidates on the state and federal levels in your area who support real estate industry issues, such as:

  • the protection of private property rights,

  • preserving the American dream of home ownership,

  • and continuing the fight for tax reforms and reducing of burdensome regulations on our business.

Make this the year that you protect your business by becoming more involved! Take a look at who’s running for office in your community and research what they stand for. Establish a connection with the candi­dates and talk with them about policy issues affecting your business. When your candidate is elected, you will have a voice in the legislative arena that knows you. Stay connected with your elected officials so they can come to you on issues that per­tain to the real estate industry. And, most importantly, vote on November 4th!


 

9.17.14 - Attorney General Bill Schuette Discusses Industry Issues with Realtors®

Photo (right to left): Bill Martin, Michigan Realtors® CEO, Attorney General Bill Schuette, Dan Jaqua, 2014 GKAR President, Robin Pompey, GKAR CEO.

Attorney General Bill Schuette visited with members of the Greater Kalamazoo Association of REALTORS® (GKAR) on Monday. Schuette was traveling in southwest Michigan and scheduled time to visit with Realtor® members. He provided updates on key issues that his office has been working through and discussed real estate industry concerns.

 “Attorney General Bill Schuette understands our industry and we appreciate the time he spent with GKAR members,” said Dan Jaqua, 2014 GKAR President. “He is a leader that defends private property rights in Michigan.”

The Michigan Realtors® Public Policy staff has always appreciated Schuette’s willingness to work on industry issues. Recently, he has been instrumental in the fight to protect the victims of mortgage fraud, prosecuting those who exploited Michigan citizens in the foreclosure process.


8.5.14 - Primary Election is Today! Cast Your Vote for the Realtor® Party!

Michigan Realtors®, in conjunction with an extraordinary effort by many local associations, has made Primary endorsements for candidates running for Governor, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, the Michigan Senate, and the Michigan House of Representatives. Use your Realtor® voter card that was sent by mail as a reference at the polls this year. The voter card displays Primary Endorsed candidates on the state and federal levels in your area who support real estate industry issues, such as:

  • the protection of private property rights,
  • preserving the American dream of home ownership, and
  • continuing to fight for tax reforms and reducing burdensome regulations on our business.

In addition to making endorsements, Michigan Realtors®, along with various other groups and individuals, are asking you to vote YES on Proposal 1. Proposal 1 addresses long-standing problems for Michigan’s small businesses and our local communities. Proposal 1 would eliminate the Personal Property Tax (PPT) for Michigan’s small businesses, while creating a more stable funding system to pay for important local community services.

Make this the year that you protect your business by becoming more involved! Take a look at who’s running for office in your community and research where they stand on issues. Establish a connection with the candi­dates and talk with them about policy concerns affecting your business. Stay connected with your elected officials so they can come to you on issues that per­tain to the real estate industry. And, most importantly, head to the polls today and cast your vote!   

To view a complete listing of Michigan Realtors® endorsed candidates on the state and federal level, please click here.


7.29.14 - Download Realtor® Action Center Mobile App

Thanks to members like you, the National Association of REALTORS® has one of the most engaged memberships in the country working to keep the dream of homeownership alive for this country. From city hall to the Michigan government to the U.S. Capitol, when REALTORS® have something to say, our elected officials listen.

To help you stay as involved as possible, NAR has developed the REALTOR® Action Center Mobile App to make it easy and convenient to contact your elected officials BEFORE they make decisions that impact the bottom line of REALTORS® like you and your customers.

As a busy professional on the go, your lifeline to clients and your office is your phone. Add our new mobile app to mix and you’ll be able to respond to calls for action immediately with no forms to fill out and shorter, easier summaries explaining why your action is important.

Get started today. Download and login to the app.


7.13.14 - Michigan Realtors® Announces 2014 House Primary Endorsements

After completing an extensive candidate interview process with local Realtor® associations, candidates running for State House and State Senate earned the Michigan Realtors® endorsements. Federal Candidates were interviewed and endorsed by the National Association of Realtors® PAC. 

“All of these candidates strive to preserve the dream of homeownership, and to promote the protection of private property rights in Michigan” says Michael Conn,  2014 Michigan Realtors® RPAC Trustees Chair.

View the list of endorsed candidates here.


5.20.14 - Michigan Realtors® Take Their Message to Nation's Capital

While Realtors® from across the country convened in Washington, D.C., last week to attend the Realtor® Party Convention & Trade Expo, over 130 members from across Michigan met with U.S. Senators and congressional staff on Capitol Hill to advocate policies that protect and advance investment in residential and commercial property and that are critical to buyers, sellers and investors in their communities. 

Attending the Realtor® Party Convention & Trade Expo is an excellent opportunity for Realtors® to influence the public policy decisions that will directly affect consumers’ ability to buy, sell and own real estate. In hundreds of meetings with elected officials and staff last week, Realtors® demonstrated the strength of the Realtor® Party and encouraged support for issues crucial to their business, clients, community and the future of the real estate industry.

The legislative hill visits focused on important issues impacting the real estate market, including preserving the mission and accessibility of Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs home loan programs, protecting real estate-related tax policies, and reforming the secondary mortgage market.

Realtor® members also urged legislators to reinstate an expired tax provision that provides relief to individuals following a loan modification, short sale or foreclosure. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act expired at the end of 2013, and assured individuals would not have to pay income tax on forgiven mortgage debt.

National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc., Realtors® in Dayton, Ohio, praised the efforts of the real estate community across the country in addressing the important residential and commercial issues that affect individuals, communities, small businesses and the nation.

“Homeownership and commercial investment help shape communities and strengthen the economy. With several significant real estate issues being debated in Congress this term, it was important that Realtors® met with lawmakers last week to share their views and positions on proposed legislation that could have a meaningful impact on consumers’ ability to purchase and own real estate,” said Brown.  


5.6.14 - Legislation Streamlining the PRE Filing Process for Lenders on Foreclosures on the Move

With the passage of the Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) Enhancement legislation last year, lenders were able to retain the PRE on a foreclosed property, but they must still pay the 18 non-homestead mills in local school operating property taxes. There has been some concern from lenders and local governments regarding the arduous process of filing to retain the PRE on foreclosed properties and instituting the new specific tax. Many forego the cumbersome process.

House Bill 4135, sponsored by Representative Frank Foster (R-Petoskey) eliminates that requirement for the lenders to pay the 18 mils, while retaining Principal Residence status on the home. This legislation alleviates the “red tape” burden on lenders so that these properties can retain their PRE without interruption, providing quicker turnaround for these properties to get back on the market.

The bill passed the House last week, and now heads to the Senate Finance committee for consideration. We will continue to keep you updated as this bill makes it way though the legislative process.