February 2019: Local Associations Recognized for Their RPAC Achievements at Annual Lunch

Michigan Realtors® would like to thank all of the local associations who made the final push for RPAC investors at the end of 2018. With last year's state RPAC goal of $1,100,000, Realtor® members not only met, but exceeded that figure with a record breaking total of over $1,112,614! Additionally, 23 local associations met and/or exceeded their local RPAC goal, and a grand total of 333 RPAC Major Investors participated. Local associations were honored last week at the Annual RPAC Appreciation Lunch during Achieve, held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids.   


Small Board (less than 200) Winners:

 

Most Improved: Greater Shiawassee Association of Realtors®

 

Highest Participation: Eastern Upper Peninsula Board of Realtors®

 

Greatest Over Goal: Eastern Upper Peninsula Board of Realtors®

 

 

Medium Board (between 200-499) Winners:

 

Most Improved: Detroit Association of Realtors®

 

Highest Participation: Saginaw Board of Realtors®

 

Greatest Over Goal: Jackson Area Association of Realtors®

 

 

Large Board (over 500) Winners:

 

Most Improved: Dearborn Area Association of Realtors®

 

Highest Participation: Greater Lansing Association of Realtors®

 

Greatest Over Goal: West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors®

 

 

Mega Board (over 2500) Winners:

 

Most Improved: Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors®

 

Highest Participation: Greater Metropolitan Association of Realtors®

 

Greatest Over Goal: Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors®

 

 

Local Association Over Goal Winners:

 

Ann Arbor Area Board 

 

Battle Creek Area Association

 

Bay County Realtor Association

 

Branch County Association

 

Central Michigan Association 

 

Commercial Alliance 

 

Greater Kalamazoo Association


Greater Lansing

 

Hillsdale County Board

 

Livingston County Association 

 

Mason Oceana Manistee Board 

 

Monroe County Association 

 

Montcalm County Association

 

Northeastern Michigan Board 

 

Saginaw Board


Southwestern Michigan Association 

 

Traverse Area Association 

 

Water Wonderland Board 

 

West Central Association 

January 2019: Michigan Realtors® Legislative Update: A Year in Review

We would be remiss if we didn’t begin this year in review with a discussion on why one of our key legislative initiatives was vetoed by Governor Snyder. While the Michigan First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account legislation (SB’s 511 & 512, sponsored by Senator Pete MacGregor (R-Rockford) and Senator Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) had strong support from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate, Governor Snyder ultimately vetoed the bills in the waning hours of 2018.

During his time in office, Governor Snyder’s goal for Michigan’s tax code, was to eliminate specific incentives and credits and provide simplicity. Michigan Realtors® met with the Governor and his staff on many occasions leading up to the passage of the bills. However, even with some changes, and a strong argument that any tax incentive for an account holder would come back to the state in even greater future investment, the Governor decided not to support the legislation.   

This isn’t the outcome we had hoped for. The First-time Homebuyer Savings Account legislation will be re-introduced early in this new legislative cycle. With many fresh faces in the both the House and Senate, along with a new leader in the Governor’s office, we will continue the push for this innovative savings vehicle to retain and attract future homebuyers in Michigan. 

The end of the last legislative session also featured many advocacy victories for Michigan Realtors®. Building on the strength of our volunteer leadership and Public Policy Committee your government affairs team is able to effectively play both offense and defense on issues that emerge throughout the year. Congratulations are due to the Public Policy Committee, led by Chairman Shawn Huston (Water Wonderland Board) and Vice-Chair Chris Christenson (Antrim-Charlevoix-Kalkaska Association) for a great year of Realtor® advocacy. 

The following bills were championed by Michigan Realtors® and were signed into law this past year. Many of them deal with enhanced governmental efficiency and services to the public and our membership. 

  • Transfer Tax Relief: HB 4643, sponsored by Representative Dave Maturen (R-Vicksburg), clarified exemption (u) of the Michigan Real Estate Transfer Tax Act, assuring that the exemption would apply to new construction and unimproved land. (Enacted as PA 172 of 2018)
  • Occupational Code Uniformity: HB 5591, sponsored by Representative Brandt Iden (R-Kalamazoo), harmonized the statute of limitations for regulatory claims for all real estate professions, providing that appraisers would be subject to the same 18-month limitations period as both builders and real estate licensees. This uniformity is important to protect those in the licensed professions from defending against stale claims. (Enacted as PA 157 of 2018)
  • One License: HB’s 5955-5965, from lead sponsor Representative James Lower (R-Cedar Lake), was a bill package that addressed the importance of maintaining reasonable levels of regulation. The new law prevents local governments from having licenses for occupations the state is already licensing. It gets rid of current duplicate licenses and does not allow local governments to create any new licenses in the future. This will protect real estate licensees from seeing any additional licensing requirements beyond what the state currently imposes. 
  • Good Title: SB 671, sponsored by Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), modernized and clarified the Marketable Title Act. What was primarily a technical fix, the change both simplifies and provides certainty to land titles. Many areas of the state find land development blocked by ancient restrictions on the use of the property. These ancient restrictions often conflict with current zoning ordinances and frustrate their intent. The technical change proposed in this legislation is a simple fix that would carry out the original intent of the legislature by further “simplifying and facilitating land transactions” and by providing certainty to land titles. (Enacted as PA 572 of 2018).
  • Reasonable Regulation and Good Science: SB’s 652-654, from lead sponsor Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), bolstered the interests of businesses and Michigan citizens in their dealings with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). This law change will promote transparency in the rule-making and permitting process, providing greater certainty for businesses and property owners, while highlighting science-based applications within the process.(Enacted as PA 267-269 of 2018). 
  • E-Notarization:
    • HB 5811, sponsored by Representative Diana Farrington (R-Utica), was the first of two pieces of legislation aimed at electronic notarization. This new law provides a basic framework for voluntary electronic notary and notarial actions utilizing secure e-platforms. However, as the first step, the platform would still require wet seal notary and real-time interaction between notary and client. The law will now require the Secretary of State (SOS) and the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB) to review, and permit the SOS and the DTMB to approve, remote electronic notarization platforms for the performance of electronic notarizations in the State. (Enacted PA 330 of 2018).
    • Building off of HB 5811, Lead Sponsor Peter Macgregor (R-Rockford) introduced SB’s 664, 996-999. This bipartisan package represented a more comprehensive path forward for electronic notarizationto occur throughout the state. While it does not mandate recording, it does permit a county register of deeds to accept electronic documents for recording only from a person with which the register of deeds had entered into an agreement establishing a verified transactional relationship. The law will also require the Electronic Recording Commission to adopt standards to address the acceptance and use of electronic notarization of documents submitted to a county register of deeds for recording. Ensuring that electronic recording is widely accepted by county registers of deeds will be a shared initiative by both Michigan Realtors® and the Michigan Land Title Association. (Enacted as PA 360 of 2018).
  • Tax Tribunal Enhancements: HB 4412, sponsored by Representative Brandt Iden (R-Kalamazoo), offers common sense improvements to the operation and efficiency of the Michigan Tax Tribunal. The new law, among other improvements, requires Tribunal members to receive training on matters relevant to the work of the Tribunal, including proper courtroom procedures, State and local tax issues, accepted appraisal practices, and proper assessing practices. – Tax Tribunal Reform (Enacted as PA 438 of 2018).
  • Assessor Reform: HB 6049, sponsored by Representative James Lower (R-Cedar Lake), represents important reform in the assessment of property in Michigan. The new law will provide baseline compliance standards for how assessment should be done, while implementing a rolling audit to ensure that assessment districts are meeting the needs of their respective constituency. While the impact of the law may be a few years down the road, the bar for assessment practices in Michigan has been raised. (Enacted as PA 660 of 2018).

A Good Defense

Michigan Realtors® was also instrumental in thwarting problematic legislation this past year. The following bills were either defeated or improved from their original form. 

  • Cyber BreachLiability: SB’s 632-633, sponsored by Senator Darwin Booher (R-Evart), were laudable in intent but theywould have the unintended consequence of moving in a direction of potential liability and increased costs for many Michigan businesses. The bills would have required new notification requirements and infrastructure expenses, while shifting the financial liability associated with data breaches from banks and credit unions to other businesses that routinely handle credit card payments or sensitive information. The Michigan Realtors® were members of a business coalition in opposition to the bills. Our position was for a more comprehensive and thoughtful approach to addressing this growing problem, one that attacks the root of the problem, not just who pays for it afterwards.  
  • Good Moral Character: HB 6110, sponsored by Representative Brandt Iden (R-Kalamazoo), would have impacted the way in which “good moral character” is currently assessed for real estate licensees, specifically, weighing whether a felony conviction should be considered disqualifying for an applicant seeking a real estate license. While it is important to provide second chances in society, the way the bill was drafted would have removed the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ ability to look at an applicant’s criminal record subjectively. While the bill was well-intentioned, the Public Policy Committee felt that a more appropriate approach would be to expressly identify felony convictions that should be disqualifying, and allow LARA and BREBS to look at the totality of the circumstances.
  • Tipping Fees with Commercial Transfer Fee: SB 943, sponsored by Senator Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek), became a potential vehicle bill for additional funding of the statewide insurance fund for Orphaned Contaminated Sites. These sites have always existed and there are approximately 3,000 orphaned sites in Michigan. However, with the current situation that Michigan faces with PFAS, the profile on this issue has increased in recent months. While the discussion continued, the idea was brought forward to implement a transfer tax on the sale of all commercial property. Michigan Realtors® was quick and successful in arguing that such a fee would be a negative for commercial real estate.
  • Premises Liability Codification: SB 1017, sponsored by Senator Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford), would have codified decades of caselaw concerning liability of possessors of real property for injuries sustained by individuals who have the possessor's permission to be on the property. Michigan Realtors® raised concerns relative to the danger that a real estate agent might be considered a possessor of property under the language of the bill. This led to an amendment exempting Article 25 licensees from the scope of liability. While the bill did not get signed into law, it’s a good example of working protect membership from unintended consequences. 

 

November 2018: Call to Action Update: Great News! Michigan First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Legislation Passes Senate!

Legislation now heads to the Governor’s Desk for Consideration

A big THANK YOU to all who participated in the “Call for Action” regarding Senate passage of the Michigan First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account legislation! Thanks to your efforts, the legislation passed unanimously in the Senate, and is headed to the Governor’s desk for consideration. 

Senate Bills 511 and 512  create the Michigan First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account, a new incentivized savings vehicle to support homeownership rooted in Michigan. These bills would create a new savings account to be opened, either jointly or individually, to the benefit of a qualified first-time homebuyer beneficiary. Michigan Realtors® sees at least 3 very valuable uses for this savings vehicle:

  1. For the parent, grandparent, or guardian, the ability to begin saving to the benefit of a minor-dependent towards their first-time home purchase rooted in Michigan;
  2. For the individual in high school, college, or beyond, that begins saving for themselves with the goal of homeownership rooted in Michigan;
  3. For the individual that has not owned a principle residence in the previous 3-years, whether due to financial hardship, foreclosure, or credit recovery, providing a new savings tool for homeownership; 

In addition, the account holder could receive up to 20-years of investment deductibility off the account holder’s state income tax, while allowing the interest on the account to grow tax-free. Under the legislation, the annual deductibility thresholds are up to $5,000 for a single tax return and $10,000 for a joint filing. Contributions for the account would be limited to $50,000. 

Stay tuned for more information on this important legislation as it receives the Governor’s consideration. 

 

Lame Duck Update! Michigan First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Legislation Passes in the House. This important Legislation now moves to the Senate for Concurrence!

Today, the Michigan First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account legislation was passed overwhelmingly on the House floorThese bills now head back to the Senate for concurrence. Senators Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) & Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) are the lead sponsors of this legislation, and we are grateful for their work on this innovative savings measure.

Senate Bills 511 and 512 create the Michigan First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account, a new incentivized savings vehicle to support homeownership rooted in Michigan. These bills would create a new savings account to be opened, either jointly or individually, to the benefit of a qualified first-time homebuyer beneficiary. Michigan Realtors® sees at least 3 very valuable uses for this savings vehicle:

  1. For the parent, grandparent, or guardian, the ability to begin saving to the benefit of a minor-dependent towards their first-time home purchase rooted in Michigan;
  2. For the individual in high school, college, or beyond, that begins saving for themselves with the goal of homeownership rooted in Michigan;
  3. For the individual that has not owned a principle residence in the previous 3-years, whether due to financial hardship, foreclosure, or credit recovery, providing a new savings tool for homeownership; 

In addition, the account holder could receive up to 20-years of investment deductibility off the account holder’s state income tax, while allowing the interest on the account to grow tax-free. Under the legislation, the annual deductibility thresholds are up to $5,000 for a single tax return and $10,000 for a joint filing. Contributions for the account would be limited to $50,000. 

Michigan Realtors® will continue to keep you updated as these important bills move through the last days of the legislative process.

 

Election Recap, Lame Duck, and a Look Ahead

Now that the election is over, the legislature is expected to be in session for only a handful of days until the end of the year. The time between the election and the end of session is called “Lame Duck”. Our hope is for our top legislative priorities - statewide septic code, first-time homebuyer savings account, and safeguarding vacation rentals - to reach the Governor’s desk for signature by the end of the year. If not, these bills will be reintroduced in January at the beginning of the new legislative cycle.

Overall, RPAC fared very well in 2018 with an 87% success rate for our RPAC-endorsed candidates! Legislatively, Republicans will retain their Majority in the House (58-52) and Senate (22-18). Leadership positions have been chosen for each respective chamber, as broken down below:

  • Senate Majority Leader: Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake)
  • Senate Majority Floor Leader: Senator Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford)
  • Senate Minority Leader: Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint)
  • Senate Minority Floor Leader: Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit)
  • Speaker of the House: Representative Lee Chatfield (R-Levering)
  • House Majority Floor Leader: Representative Triston Cole (R-Mancelona)
  • House Minority Leader: Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills)
  • House Minority Floor Leader: Representative Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor)

Thanks to our candidate interview process, we have a good idea of where our newly elected officials stand on our legislative priorities. With divided power between Democrats & Republicans, Michigan Realtors® will be working to bring these new Realtor® champions together to move our top industry issues forward.

October/November 2018: #RealtorsVote | Complete list of Michigan Realtors® General Endorsements

Michigan Realtors® announces candidate endorsements for the November 6thGeneral Election.

After completing an extensive interview process with local Realtor® associations, several candidates earned the Michigan Realtors® endorsement. These endorsements were solidified by the Michigan Realtors® Political Action Committee (“RPAC”) Trustees. Federal Candidates were endorsed by the National Association of Realtors® PAC.

“We are pleased to endorse candidates running for office who are strongly committed to working with our industry in preserving the dream of homeownership, and promoting the protection of private property rights here in Michigan” says Gordon McCann, 2018 Michigan Realtors® RPAC Trustees Chair.

For a complete list of all candidate endorsements and election resources, please click here.

Remember to Vote Realtor® Party on Tuesday, November 6th!

September 2018: Don’t miss these exciting RPAC events at The Convention!

The Convention is almost here! As you may already know, this year’s festivities will be held September 26-28 at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme. While The Convention provides fantastic networking and educational opportunities, there are many RPAC events scheduled throughout The Convention as well. Below are the details:

  • RPAC Appreciation Luncheon - 9.26.18– Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick will be the special guest at this year’s RPAC Appreciation Luncheon! This invitation-only luncheon (RPAC investors of $200 and over) will take place on Wednesday, September 26th.

  • RPAC Major Investor Reception - 9.26.18 – Michigan Realtors® will host an RPAC Major Investor Appreciation Reception. This invitation-only reception is for RPAC Major Investors of $1,000 or higher.

  • RPAC Silent Auction - 9.27.18 – As in previous years, one of the biggest highlights during The Convention is the RPAC Silent Auction! Local Realtor® associations, affiliates, and Women’s Council of Realtors® Chapters from across Michigan generously contribute items and gift baskets which grab the attention of everyone who attends, while also helping raise RPAC dollars critical to safeguarding the real estate industry. The auction is sure to be a popular Expo destination for members to stop by, place bids, and bring home wonderful items all while investing in RPAC!

  • RPAC Live Auction - 9.28.17 – The RPAC Live auction will begin as soon as the Silent Auction closes at 5:30 pm. Place your bids on fun and creative items! The event brings a lot of excitement to The Convention, and lively auctioneers will be on hand to work the room!

  • For more information, on location and times of these events, please visit The Convention website.

September 2018: Tim Skubick to Speak at RPAC Appreciation Luncheon!

Longtime Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick will be the special guest at this year’s RPAC Appreciation Luncheon! The invitation-only luncheon will take place on Wednesday, September 26th during The Convention at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.

Mr. Skubick has been covering Michigan politics and government for over 45 years. Mr. Skubick is the anchor and producer of “Off the Record” – as seen on WKAR-TV. He has won four Emmys, authored two books on Michigan politics, and is a member of the Michigan Journalism and Broadcast Halls of Fame.

In addition to listening to Mr. Skubick’s dynamic take on politics statewide, lunch guests will also celebrate the announcement of the 2018 Realtor® Active in Politics Award.

Watch your inbox! Invitations to the luncheon, along with instructions on how to RSVP, will be sent via email this week to RPAC Investors of $200 and up. We hope to see you there!

If you would like to join in the luncheon to hear the latest on politics and policy in Michigan, there is still time to invest! Click here. to make your investment today!

July/August 2018: Complete list of Michigan Realtors® Primary Endorsements 

Michigan Realtors® announced its endorsed candidates for the August 7th Primary on both the state and federal levels.

After completing an extensive interview process with local Realtor® associations, several candidates earned the Michigan Realtors® endorsement. These endorsements were solidified by the Michigan Realtors® Political Action Committee (“RPAC”) Trustees. Federal Candidates were endorsed by the National Association of Realtors® PAC.

“All of these candidates strive to preserve the dream of homeownership, and will work to promote the protection of private property rights in Michigan” says Gordon McCann, 2018 Michigan Realtors® RPAC Trustees Chair. 

For a complete list of all candidate endorsements, please click here.

June 2018: Michigan Realtors® Announce First Round of Endorsements, including Bill Schuette for Governor, Debbie Stabenow for U.S. Senate

On Monday, June 15th, the Michigan Realtors® RPAC Trustees made their first round of endorsements for the 2018 election year. Leading the top of the ticket, the RPAC Trustees voted to endorse Senator Debbie Stabenow for U.S. Senate, and Attorney General Bill Schuette for Governor.

Both Attorney General Schuette and Senator Stabenow have provided distinguished service to the citizens of this state. Their strong support of homeownership, real estate investment, and the protection of private property rights earned them RPAC’s endorsement. 


Bill Schuette’s impressive background as both advocate and public servant on behalf of Michigan consumers was compelling to the RPAC Trustees. So too was his focus on the integrity of the real estate industry in our state. As Attorney General, he dedicated resources and helped navigate bureaucratic red tape to better utilize the Michigan Real Estate Enforcement Fund against unlicensed real estate activity and mortgage fraud. Schuette also offered guidance protecting redemption rights under Michigan’s property tax foreclosure laws. 


While AG Schuette earned the endorsement, the RPAC Trustees sincerely appreciated all of the gubernatorial candidates that presented that day, including Senator Gretchen Whitmer, Shri Thanedar, and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.


Senator Stabenow is a member of the Senate Finance Committee. As Michigan’s Senior U.S. Senator, she has supported various past Realtor® initiatives. A staunch supporter of the Mortgage Interest Deduction and an advocate on behalf of distressed homeowners, Senator Stabenow is the sponsor of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act as meaningful long-term housing policy.


Michigan Realtors® Political Action Committee (“RPAC”) Trustees voted to support both for their respective races. 


Ruling Eliminates Burdensome Financing Roadblock for Military Veterans

 

A ruling from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has cleared the way for military veterans in Michigan to have full access to affordable financing on all types of homes they seek to purchase.Prior to the ruling, veterans were not fully eligible for their earned VA home purchasing benefit. Specifically, the VA interpreted single-family homes in site condo developments as “condos” in their processing protocols. This triggered additional reviews that delayed and even eliminated VA financing for these particular homes. In addition, it is estimated that over 90% of all single-family homes now constructed in Michigan are being built in site condo developments.

This new VA ruling comes after this issue was brought to Congressman Jack Bergman (R-Michigan) by the Michigan Homebuilders Association and the Michigan Realtors®.  We truly applaud the efforts of Congressman Bergman and the Department of Veteran Affairs for streamlining financing protocols for military veterans in order to level the playing field for all home purchases in Michigan.

May 2018: Update: Appraiser Legislation Unanimously Passes Senate  

This week, another Realtor®-supported bill passed the Senate 37-0! House Bill 5591, sponsored by Realtor® member, State Representative Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp) implements an 18-month statute of limitations on administrative complaints against licensed Appraisers.

Currently, there is no time limit on when an administrative complaint can be filed against a licensed Appraiser. House Bill 5591 would establish a time limit, or statute of limitation, of 18 months on filing a complaint with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) after one of the following dates, whichever occurs later: 

·         The date of the alleged violation.

·         If the violation was in connection with the performance of an appraisal, the delivery of the appraisal to the client.

·         If the alleged violation occurred in connection with an appraisal or appraisal review performed in the capacity of an expert witness, the delivery of the appraisal or appraisal review to the opposing party.

The 18-month time limit would apply to both residential and commercial property appraisals, and is similar to the limit established for complaints seeking an administrative action against real estate licensees and home builders.

The bill now heads to the Governor’s Desk for enactment. We will continue to keep you updated once this bill becomes law.

Senate Finance Committee Reports Out Transfer Tax Relief Legislation; House Bill 4643 now heads to Senate Floor for Consideration  

Legislation to increase the scope of transfer tax relief for certain property sold at a declining value is making its way through the legislative process. The Senate Finance Committee reported out House Bill 4643, which now heads to the Senate Floor for consideration.

By way of background, in 2015, Representative Maturen sponsored legislation (now Public Act 217 of 2015) to provide both clarity and fairness to the Michigan tax payer. The primary changes under that new law enshrined that a buyer may be eligible for a refund where a transfer tax was paid unnecessarily as the result of some exemption. Previously, the law only provided refund rights to the seller.

It also cemented the Michigan Supreme Court's interpretation in Gardner v. Department of Treasury regarding State Real Estate Transfer Tax Act Exemption (u) that it applies when the SEV at the time of sale is less than or equal to the original SEV. With its 4-year retroactive application, this legislation provided significant relief for many Michigan taxpayers that sold property in a declining market. Absent the clarification, many Michigan taxpayers would not have known that they had paid state transfer tax unnecessarily. By way of illustration:

1.     SEV is $70,000 when purchased;

2.     SEV is $65,000 when sold;

3.     State Real Estate Transfer Tax is exempted based on declining value.

Over the past two years, a technicality has been discovered that has prevented some otherwise eligible sellers/tax payers from receiving the benefit of exemption (u). Currently, the state transfer tax exemption on the sale of homes in situations where the SEV has not increased since the time of acquisition only applies where the seller bought an existing home. It does not apply if the seller built a home on an acquired lot, or (depending on the timing) acquired a spec home or other newly built home. By way of illustration:

 

1.    SEV on unimproved land is $20,000 in 2000 when purchased

2.    SEV is soon increased to $70,000 based on improvements

3.    SEV is $65,000 in 2014 when sold;

4.    Exemption (u) does not currently apply because the first SEV was based on unimproved land.

House Bill 4643 would sensibly expand the state transfer tax exemption “u” to cover those situations where the initial SEV was based on unimproved land. Michigan Realtors® believes that the proposed change best represents the intent of the original exemption. The taxpayer is selling at a declining value and the original SEV on unimproved land should not preclude them from the exemption. We will keep you up-to-date on the progress of this legislation as it makes its way through the Senate. 

Update: First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Legislation on the Move: Bills now head to the House Floor for Consideration  

Today, the Michigan House Tax Policy committee voted in support of the Michigan First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account  legislationThese bills now head to the Michigan House Floor for a vote. Senators Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) & Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) are the lead sponsors of this legislation, and we are grateful for their work on this innovative savings measure.

Senate Bills 511 and 512 would create the Michigan First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account, a new incentivized savings vehicle to support homeownership rooted in Michigan.  Today’s landscape for the Michigan first-time homebuyer is significantly different from that of prior generations. College graduates face mounting student loan debt. Down payment requirements have risen and become more complex. For the first-time homebuyer, these variables, along with trying to make ends meet, make the already significant first-time home investment that much more complicated. 

 

These bills would create a new savings account to be opened, either jointly or individually, to the benefit of a qualified first-time homebuyer beneficiary. Michigan Realtors® sees at least 3 very valuable uses for this savings vehicle:

 

  1. For the parent, grandparent, or guardian, the ability to begin saving to the benefit of a minor-dependent towards their first-time home purchase rooted in Michigan;
  2. For the individual in high school, college, or beyond, that begins saving for themselves with the goal of homeownership rooted in Michigan;
  3. For the individual that has not owned a principle residence in the previous 3-years, whether due to financial hardship, foreclosure, or credit recovery, providing a new savings tool for homeownership; 

In addition, the account holder could receive up to 20-years of investment deductibility off the account holder’s state income tax, while allowing the interest on the account to grow tax-free. Under the legislation, the annual deductibility thresholds are up to $5,000 for a single tax return and $10,000 for a joint filing. Contributions for the account would be limited to $50,000.

 

Michigan Realtors® will continue to actively promote this legislation and update you on the progress as it heads to the Michigan House. In the meantime, we are asking our members to contact their state legislators to ask for their support of these bills! 

 

For more information, and to “Take Action”, please visit: FirstHomeMichigan.com

Broker Summit Panel Focuses on Wire Fraud

Wire fraud in Michigan has increased a staggering 4,348% in the past two years. Toxic wire fraud issues continue to get worse. At the recent Michigan Realtors® Broker Summit, panelists Eric Burgoon – Lake Michigan Credit Union, Tom Cronkright – Sun Title Agency, Lisa Scoble – Pearl Insurance and Rebecca Keithley had this advice for attendees:

From panelist Scoble:

The best course to take is to prevent being caught in a wire transfer fraud by following these best practices:

  • Educate your clients about this issue and how it can impact their pocketbook. Require clients to pick up the phone and call you to verify any emails they receive with a change in wiring instructions.
  • Whenever possible, use the brokerage’s email
  • When using personal email, be sure you have a commercial grade anti-virus program installed with automatic updates
  • Do not use unsecured free WiFi or public computers when doing business.
  • Change passwords often and create robust passwords with 10-12 characters including upper and lower-case letters, numbers and characters
  • Purchase insurance protection specifically designed to address this exposure

When purchasing insurance specifically for wire fraud issues it is important to communicate the type of claim you are trying to insure. Cyber policies are very complex and insurance providers use their own language to describe coverages. One company may call this wire fraud issue Social Engineering where another company considers Social Engineering to occur when you, the insured, loses your funds to a bad-actor. 

We recommend that you specifically confirm whether coverage is included in a policy by providing a claim scenario such as this – An agent is working from their Gmail account which is hacked. The hacker identifies transactions the agent is working on and a few days before a closing, the hacker sends a change in wiring instructions to one of the agent’s buyers. The hacker spoofs the email address so when the buyer emails back to verify the change they are actually emailing the hacker, not their agent. Of course, the hacker confirms, the money is wired and three days later the buyer shows up to a closing with no funds available. After three days it’s improbable that the buyer’s money will be recovered. The buyer then sues the agent alleging the agent did not protect the buyer’s information (or didn’t inform the buyer about this issue) resulting in the loss. Here the insured needs coverage that will defend and pay damages which could include the buyer’s loss of funds.

Know that your Title Company can protect everyone from fraud – in 2017, Cronkright and his partner launched a wire fraud prevention platform designed to safely authenticate the identities of the parties of a transaction and allow them to share banking information securely. The CertifID platform offers a $500 guarantee on each wire.

In summary, be proactive!! Cyber policies offer a myriad of coverage including breach response expenses, ransomware coverage and possibly coverage for our scenario above. Remember – give your agent the specific issue you are looking to insure and verify that’s what you are purchasing. Test your vulnerabilities, then take the appropriate steps to mitigate risk and increase security. CertifID has also developed a step by step guide to walk you through recovery after you learn of a fraud.

Additionally, your Michigan Realtor Errors and Omissions provider, Pearl Insurance, now has an insurance solution for this very issue. Pearl’s new Cyber endorsements provide protection for breach expenses and wire fraud and can be added to your E&O policy written through Pearl.  


 

April 2018: Michigan House Adopts Resolution Celebrating the Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act

Today, the Michigan Senate unanimously adopted a resolution commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act. Both legislative chambers have now passed resolutions, HR 292, and SR 148, honoring this important and historic anniversary. In addition, Michigan Realtors®, along with state and local associations across the nation, continue to celebrate the significance of this milestone throughout the month of April.


March 2018: Michigan House Adopts Resolution Celebrating the Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act 

April 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act. In cooperation with the Michigan Realtors®, legislative resolutions have been introduced in both the State House and Senate to commemorate the anniversary, and to recognize the role Realtors® play in advancing fair housing. This includes leading efforts to promote education and training, along with community outreach.

The Michigan House of Representatives adopted their resolution yesterday, HR 292. The Michigan Senate is poised to take up their resolution in the coming weeks. In addition, Michigan Realtors®, along with state and local associations across the nation, will continue to celebrate the significance of this milestone throughout the month of April. 

Appraiser Legislation Passes House with Strong Support 

Last week, another Realtor®-supported bill passed the House by a vote of 107-1. House Bill 5591, sponsored by Realtor® member, State Representative Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp) implements an 18-month statute of limitations on administrative complaints against licensed Appraisers.

Currently, there is no time limit on when an administrative complaint can be filed against a licensed Appraiser. House Bill 5591 would establish a time limit, or statute of limitation, of 18 months on filing a complaint with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) after one of the following dates, whichever occurs later: 

  • The date of the alleged violation.
  • If the violation was in connection with the performance of an appraisal, the delivery of the appraisal to the client.
  • If the alleged violation occurred in connection with an appraisal or appraisal review performed in the capacity of an expert witness, the delivery of the appraisal or appraisal review to the opposing party.

The 18-month time limit would apply to both residential and commercial property appraisals, and is similar to the limit established for complaints seeking an administrative action against real estate licensees and home builders.

The bill now heads to the Senate Regulatory Reform committee for consideration. As always, Michigan Realtors® will continue to keep you informed as this bill moves through the Legislature. 

Important Transfer Tax Relief Legislation Passes House Overwhelmingly

Legislation to increase the scope of transfer tax relief for certain property sold at a declining value has passed the Michigan House of Representatives by a vote of 96-13. HB 4643, sponsored by State Representative Dave Maturen (R -Vicksburg) now makes its way to the Senate Finance committee for consideration. 

By way of background, in 2015, Representative Maturen sponsored legislation (now Public Act 217 of 2015) to provide both clarity and fairness to the Michigan tax payer. The primary changes under that new law enshrined that a buyer may be eligible for a refund where a transfer tax was paid unnecessarily as the result of some exemption. Previously, the law only provided refund rights to the seller.

It also cemented the Michigan Supreme Court's interpretation in Gardner v. Department of Treasury regarding State Real Estate Transfer Tax Act Exemption (u) that it applies when the SEV at the time of sale is less than or equal to the original SEV. With its 4-year retroactive application, this legislation provided significant relief for many Michigan taxpayers that sold property in a declining market. Absent the clarification, many Michigan taxpayers would not have known that they had paid state transfer tax unnecessarily. By way of illustration:

i.     SEV is $70,000 when purchased;

ii.     SEV is $65,000 when sold;

iii.     State Real Estate Transfer Tax is exempted based on declining value.

Over the past two years, a technicality has been discovered that has prevented some otherwise eligible sellers/tax payers from receiving the benefit of exemption (u). Currently, the state transfer tax exemption on the sale of homes in situations where the SEV has not increased since the time of acquisition only applies where the seller bought an existing home. It does not apply if the seller built a home on an acquired lot, or (depending on the timing) acquired a spec home or other newly built home. By way of illustration:

i.        SEV on unimproved land is $20,000 in 2000 when purchased

ii.       SEV is soon increased to $70,000 based on improvements

iii.      SEV is $65,000 in 2014 when sold;

iv.   Exemption (u) does not currently apply because the first SEV was based on unimproved land.

House Bill 4643 would sensibly expand the state transfer tax exemption “u” to cover those situations where the initial SEV was based on unimproved land. Michigan Realtors® believes that the proposed change best represents the intent of the original exemption. The taxpayer is selling at a declining value and the original SEV on unimproved land should not preclude them from the exemption. We will keep you up-to-date on the progress of this legislation as it makes its way through the Senate. 


February 2018: Supported Transfer Tax Relief Legislation Clears the House Tax Policy Committee

Legislation to increase the scope of transfer tax relief for certain property sold at a declining value has resoundingly passed the first hurdle of the legislative process!

Legislation to increase the scope of transfer tax relief for certain property sold at a declining value has resoundingly passed the first hurdle of the legislative process! HB 4643, sponsored by State Representative Dave Maturen (R – Vicksburg), now makes its way to House floor for consideration. 

As you may recall, Representative Maturen sponsored legislation in 2015 to provide both clarity and fairness to the Michigan tax payer. The primary changes under that enacted legislation enshrined that a buyer may be eligible for a refund where a transfer tax was paid unnecessarily as the result of some exemption. Previously, the law only provided refund rights to the seller. 

The legislation also cemented the Michigan Supreme Court's interpretation in Gardner v. Department of Treasury regarding State Real Estate Transfer Tax Act Exemption (u) that it applies when the SEV at the time of sale is less than or equal to the original SEV. With its 4-year retroactive application, this legislation provided significant relief for many Michigan taxpayers that sold property in a declining market.  Absent the clarification, many Michigan taxpayers would not have known that they had paid state transfer tax unnecessarily. By way of illustration:

i.     SEV is $70,000 when purchased;

ii.     SEV is $65,000 when sold;

iii.     State Real Estate Transfer Tax is exempted based on declining value.

Over the past two years, a technicality has been discovered that has prevented some otherwise eligible sellers/tax payers from receiving the benefit of exemption (u). Currently, the state transfer tax exemption on the sale of homes in situations where the SEV has not increased since the time of acquisition only applies where the seller bought an existing home.  It does not apply if the seller built a home on an acquired lot, or (depending on the timing) acquired a spec home or other newly built home.  By way of illustration:

i.         SEV on unimproved land is $20,000 in 2000 when purchased

ii.         SEV is soon increased to $70,000 based on improvements

iii.         SEV is $65,000 in 2014 when sold;

iv.         Exemption (u) does not currently apply because the first SEV was based on unimproved land. 

In short, HB 4643 would sensibly expand the state transfer tax exemption “u” to cover those situations where the initial SEV was based on unimproved land.  Michigan Realtors® believes that the proposed change best represents the intent of the original exemption. The taxpayer is selling at a declining value and the original SEV on unimproved land should not preclude them from the exemption. We will keep you up to date on the progress of this important legislation!

Local Associations Recognized for Their RPAC Achievements at Annual Lunch

The Michigan Realtors® would like to thank all of the local associations who made the final push for RPAC investors at the end of 2017. With last year's state RPAC goal of $950,000, Realtor® members not only met, but exceeded that figure with a record-breaking total of over $1,030,000! That is 106% Over Goal! Additionally, 28 local associations met and/or exceeded their local RPAC goal, and a grand total of 329 RPAC Major Investors participated. Local associations were honored last week at the Annual RPAC Appreciation Lunch during Achieve, held at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit. 

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Small Board (less than 200) Winners:

Most Improved: Branch County Association of Realtors® Highest Participation: Eastern Upper Peninsula Board of Realtors® Greatest Over Goal: Eastern Upper Peninsula Board of Realtors®

Medium Board (between 200-499) Winners:

Most Improved: Eastern Thumb Association of Realtors® Highest Participation: Saginaw Board of Realtors® Greatest Over Goal: Jackson Area Association of Realtors®

Large Board (over 500) Winners:

Most Improved: Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors® Highest Participation: West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors® Greatest Over Goal: West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors®

Mega Board (over 2500) Winners:

Most Improved: North Oakland County Board of Realtors® Highest Participation: Greater Metropolitan Association of Realtors® Greatest Over Goal: Greater Regional Alliance of Realtors®

Local Association Over Goal Winners:

Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors® Battle Creek Area Association of Realtors® Central Michigan Association of Realtors® Commercial Alliance of Realtors® Down River Association of Realtors® East Central Association of Realtors® Greater Kalamazoo Association of Realtors® Greater Lansing Association of Realtors® Hillsdale County Board of Realtors® Lenawee County Association of Realtors® Livingston County Association of Realtors® Mason Oceana Manistee Board of Realtors® Midland Board of Realtors® Monroe County Association of Realtors® Montcalm County Association of Realtors® Northeastern Michigan Board of Realtors® St. Joseph County Association of Realtors® Traverse Area Association of Realtors® Upper Peninsula Association of Realtors® Water Wonderland Board of Realtors® West Central Association of Realtors®


 

January 2018: Support “Michigan First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account” Legislation 

Visit FirstHomeMichigan.com!

The legislature is back in full swing, as session resumes this week. As you may recall, before the end of 2017, the Michigan Senate voted to pass the Michigan First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account legislation. These bills now move on to the House Tax Policy committee, before going on to the House floor for a full vote. 

As you may recall, Senate Bills 511 and 512 sponsored by Senators Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) & Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) would create the Michigan First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account, a new incentivized savings vehicle to support homeownership rooted in Michigan.  

These bills would allow a new savings account to be opened, either jointly or individually, to the benefit of a qualified first-time homebuyer beneficiary. Michigan Realtors® sees at least 3 very valuable uses for this savings vehicle:

  1. For the parent, grandparent, or guardian, the ability to begin saving to the benefit of a minor-dependent towards their first-time home purchase rooted in Michigan;
  2. For the individual in high school, college, or beyond, that begins saving for themselves with the goal of homeownership rooted in Michigan;
  3. For the individual that has not owned a principle residence in the previous 3-years, whether due to financial hardship, foreclosure, or credit recovery, providing a new savings tool for homeownership; 

In addition, the account holder could receive up to 20-years of investment deductibility off the account holder’s state income tax, while allowing the interest on the account to grow tax-free. Under the legislation, the annual deductibility thresholds are up to $5,000 for a single tax return and $10,000 for a joint filing.  Contributions for the account would be limited to $50,000.

Michigan Realtors® will continue to actively promote this legislation. In addition, we have launched FirstHomeMichigan.com, where you can find more information, and connect with your State Representatives to ask for their support of these bills! 

For more information, and to “Take Action”, please visit: FirstHomeMichigan.com