REALTOR® Association Testify on Behalf of Massachusetts Homeowners at Two Separate State House Hearings Today

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MAR General Counsel Mike McDonagh and MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald testify in two hearings at the State House.

It will be a busy day for the volunteer leaders of MAR as they will be appearing today before two separate hearings at the Massachusetts State House. The outcome of these proposed bills could both negatively impact home values in two separate ways.

The first hearing is in support of Senate 1521, An Act relative to discharge of indebtedness of principal residence from gross income. This bill would bring relief for homeowners who are forgiven some portion of mortgage debt and greatly assist homeowners in avoiding foreclosure. Currently, a seller who goes through the short sale process, would be required to pay tax on the phantom income (the portion of mortgage debt that has been forgiven by the lender), even though no cash has changed hands.

REALTOR® volunteer leadership will also testify in OPPOSITION to Senate 1761 “An Act relative to home energy efficiency.” This bill would require mandatory energy audits and an energy rating at or prior to the transfer of property. Not only would this requirement disrupt sales and have a negative impact on the Massachusetts housing economy, but also stigmatize older and historic homes causing a substantial decline in value.

To see a list of MAR’s 2015 legislative priorities, click here.

Read the entire press release.

The Wednesday Word: New Net Neutrality Rules Approved by the FCC

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(Please note: The following blog post was prepared by MAR Legal Staff: Michael McDonagh, General Counsel; Ashley Stolba, Associate Counsel; and Justin Davidson, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel. Edited by Christine Howe, Legal Affairs & Finance Administrative Assistant)

Last Thursday (February 26, 2015) the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved new “net neutrality” rules that will benefit REALTORS®. As the profession moves toward more frequent internet use for online resources, forms, listings and generally working with clients, the changes are welcomed by the National Association of REALTORS®.

“Today’s vote ensures that consumers will have equal, unencumbered access to the Internet and all legal content and applications, that cannot be blocked or throttled by Internet Service Providers,” NAR President Chris Polychron said in a statement released by NAR on Thursday. The new rules give the FCC authority to regulate broadband providers and restrict their ability to control download speeds in addition to prohibiting paid prioritization that tends to benefit large companies that can pay to receive faster internet delivery. This authority truly benefits REALTORS® in addition to small business owners.

While the FCC has approved the new rules, the work is not done yet. NAR stated it also will continue to work with Congress as it considers net neutrality legislation to ensure it is beneficial to REALTORS®.

To read more about net neutrality, visit the NAR Net Neutrality Resources page.

Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® Applauds Passage of State Flood Insurance Bill that helps Massachusetts homeowners

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The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) celebrated yesterday the work done by Governor Patrick, Attorney General Coakley and Speaker DeLeo to address the devastating impacts of the changes to National Flood Insurance Program at the state level with the passage of H3783, An Act relative to flood insurance.

“Due to the older and coastal housing stock in Massachusetts, we have been working tirelessly with the National Association of REALTORS® on a federal level to seek relief for Bay State homeowners after major changes to the National Flood Insurance Program,” said MAR 2014 President Peter Ruffini, regional vice president for Jack Conway REALTORS® in Norwell. “We greatly appreciate that Governor Patrick, Attorney General Coakley and Speaker DeLeo not only recognized this as a serious issue, but also crafted legislation that will help some of those homeowners impacted to prevent default or foreclosure.”

This new law will provide homeowners with the option of purchasing flood insurance in an amount that would only cover the outstanding amount of a mortgage or equity loan. Previously, these homeowners would be required to purchase full replacement value regardless of the value of the mortgage owed.

Read the rest of the release here.