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Updated: 2 hours 44 min ago

Flood and Disaster Disclosures: Law, Precedent and Grades for All 50 States

3 hours 41 min ago

As more and more climate change-fueled extreme weather events—from historic hurricanes to unexpected summer downpours—affect homes, one issue anyone selling or buying a home needs to be aware of is disclosure. While some states require a seller to expansively detail any history of flood damage, flood zone designation or other natural disaster threats, others have little or no disclosure requirements or provide only vague guidelines on what needs to be disclosed

A recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) panel rated all 50 states on the transparency of their flood disclosure policies on a letter grade from “A” for very transparent to “F” for failing to provide adequate policies or guidance. With 21 states receiving an “F” grade, the FEMA panel recommended the creation of a nationwide database of flood events, flood insurance claims and disaster claims.

Though most local REALTOR® associations offer a voluntary form which can be provided to clients—all of which include some flood or disaster disclosures—every real estate professional should be aware of the legal requirements and precedents around flood and disaster disclosure in their state.

ALABAMA — GRADE: F

Alabama has no statutory or regulatory requirements for disclosure of flood risk, federal flood insurance requirements or past flood damages. Sellers must disclose a “material defect or condition that affects health or safety [when] the defect is not known to or readily observable by the buyer,” and a jury found in the 2000 court case Cooper & Co. v. Lester that this applies to “misrepresentations and suppression of material facts” related to flooding.

ALASKA — GRADE: C

Sellers in Alaska must disclose the flood zone designation and any floods they are aware of on the property, as well as damage caused from “landslide, avalanche, high winds, fire, earthquake or other natural causes.” It also requires that sellers disclose water or leakage in the basement along with frozen pipes or drains.

ARIZONA — GRADE: F

Arizona state statute requires licensed real estate agents to notify buyers through a written affidavit whether or not the property is on a FEMA-designated floodplain. Arizona also offers a list of other items to disclose, including fissures and environmental hazards affecting, but this report is explicitly not mandatory. Licensed real estate agents must also disclose any water that is a “feature” of the property, and whether it fluctuates “substantially in size or volume.”

The in the 2011 court case Barton v. Boesen ruled that a real estate agent and his brokerage could not be held responsible for selling a new house with a defective, regularly leaking foundation because the buyers could not prove he “knew or should have known any information about the construction of the home.”

ARKANSAS — GRADE: F

Arkansas’s real estate commission explicitly states that no state law requires disclosure of specific information about their property, including floods and natural disasters. However, licensed real estate agents have to make “reasonable efforts” to obtain and disclose information that is “material to the value or desirability” of the property.

In the 2011 court case Worley v City of Jonesboro, buyers sued a seller and her brokerage for allegedly understating flooding issues ruled in favor of the seller, with a judge saying that sellers can only be held responsible for nondisclosure in “special circumstances” when they have knowledge a buyer is relying on incorrect or misleading information in a transaction.

CALIFORNIA — GRADE: C

California has a specific and detailed mandatory form that statutorily requires property sellers to disclose a variety of past damages or potential future hazards, including major flood damage, flood zones, historic forest fire risk and earthquake fault lines. Whether or not a property will require flood insurance does not need to be disclosed.

Two new laws passed in 2021 also require sellers to disclose certain fire hazard risks, including any fire hazard zone the property is part of and specific mitigation steps taken to defend against wildfires—everything from ember-resistant roof vents to non-combustible landscaping buffer zones.

COLORADO — GRADE: F

Real estate brokers are required by the state Department of Regulatory Agencies (DRE) to use state-approved disclosure forms “when appropriate.” While certain disclosures are codified in state law, disaster disclosure—whether a property has been damaged by “hail, wind, fire, flood or other casualty”— is not. The DRE vaguely warns on its website that real estate brokers are “responsible to make all required disclosures to all parties under applicable laws, rules and regulations governing real estate brokers.”

In Jehly v. Brown, a 2014 court case involving buyers who were not informed their newly constructed house was built in a floodplain, saw a judge rule in favor of the seller (who did not fill out the disaster disclosure form) despite the fact that the third-party builder of the home knew about the floodplain.

CONNECTICUT — GRADE: D

Connecticut requires by law that sellers disclose flood hazard and inland wetland designations along with fire and smoke damage, but does not mandate anything regarding past flooding events or damage, or whether flood insurance is required on that property.

DELAWARE — GRADE: C

Delaware has a mandatory seller disclosure form that includes flood damage, drainage problems and flood zone or wetland designations. Flood insurance, and the current annual premium cost, must also be disclosed when applicable. The state also requires sellers to disclose if the property owner is responsible for repairing nearby streets or sidewalks, and the estimated cost if they are.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — GRADE: C

The district does have a mandatory disclosure form that asks if there are any exterior drainage problems or if there has been previous flood, fire or wind damage to a property. There are no requirements to disclose flood insurance or floodplain designations.

FLORIDA — GRADE: F

While Florida has no statutory requirements regarding flood or disaster disclosure, courts have sometimes found that sellers can be held liable for not disclosing “facts or conditions about the property that could have a substantial impact on its value or desirability.”

In the 1985 court decision in Johnson v. Davis, a seller was held responsible for not disclosing that a window regularly “gushed” water during rainstorms after they had told the buyer leaking issues had been mitigated, with the judge saying that enough omissions or misrepresentations by sellers could “amount to fraud in the legal sense.” On the other hand, a 1997 decision in Nelson v. Wiggs ruled in favor of a seller who had not disclosed regular property flooding, faulting the buyers for not asking questions of the seller or doing their own research.

GEORGIA — GRADE: F

Georgia has no codified or statutory mandatory disclosures for flooding. A 2010 appeals court ruling in Shaw v. Robertson faulted a homebuyer and their agent after they discovered significant flooding on a newly-purchased property, saying they “failed to act diligently” by doing more research or observing land conditions before making an offer.

HAWAII — GRADE: D

Sellers in Hawaii must disclose if a property is in a flood hazard area, but not any flood damage or flood insurance requirements. A mandatory form also asks sellers to disclose “material facts” that “are within the knowledge or control of the seller” or “can be observed from visible, accessible areas,” though how and when this would include flood damage or other natural disaster concerns is not defined.

IDAHO — GRADE: F

Idaho does not have disclosures for flood damage, flood zones or flood insurance, though a mandatory form does ask if there are “specific problems” with drainage or basement water. That form also has a space requiring “legal, physical, or other” disclosures, though it is not clear if flooding would be included.

A 1997 court ruling in Enright v. Jonassen held a seller partially responsible after he failed to disclose a floodplain designation after he was asked explicitly by the buyer about additional building restrictions on the property.

ILLINOIS — GRADE: C

Sellers must disclose in Illinois whether there has been flooding or leaking in a basement, or whether it is located in a flood plain or currently has flood insurance. Sellers must also disclose if the property has “earth stability defects.” Licensed real estate agents must also disclose “latent material adverse facts pertaining to the physical condition of the property that are actually known by the licensee and that could not be discovered by a reasonably diligent inspection,” but cannot be held liable for passing on false information from a client if they did not have “actual knowledge the information was false.”

INDIANA — GRADE: C

Sellers in Indiana must disclose if there is any damage to the property due to “wind, flood, termites or rodents,” along with floodplain designations and current flood insurance. That mandatory form also includes “hazardous conditions,” including mine shafts or radioactive material on site.

IOWA — GRADE: C

Iowa does have mandatory disclosures, though how they are presented can vary. A recommended form requires sellers to disclose past flooding, drainage, grading issues, or floodplain designations, along with “water or other problems” in the basement or foundation. Iowa law specifically allows sellers to draw up their own disclosure form as long as it “contain[s] at a minimum the information required by” the recommended form, and complies generally with state statutes.

NAR guidance warns that “no particular language is required provided all mandatory items are included” in a disclosure.

KANSAS — GRADE: F

Kansas generally requires that a seller discloses “[a]ny environmental hazards affecting the property which are required by law to be disclosed.” This does not explicitly mention flooding or any other natural disaster, though according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), courts have provided some precedent that sellers can be held responsible for certain material omissions, which might include flooding.

In the 2013 court case Stechschulte v. Jennings, which involved a seller who had misrepresented repairs he made to windows—leaving behind a can of paint expressly designed to conceal water damage that buyers discovered—the court ruled the seller could be held liable. The seller’s real estate agent, who was also his fiance could be held liable as well, the court ruled, even though she did not live in the home at the time and claimed she had no direct knowledge of leaks or flooding.

KENTUCKY — GRADE: C

Kentucky requires mandatory disclosure of “draining, flooding, or grading,” as well as its flood hazard designation and flood insurance. It also requires sellers to disclose nearby bodies of water adjoining the property. Kentucky also sets specific sanctions against licensed real estate agents who do not disclose these things, including revoking licenses and levying fines of up to $1,000.

LOUISIANA — GRADE: A

As a state that has seen some of the worst flooding disasters in recent memory, Louisiana’s disclosures are extensive. The state’s mandatory disclosure form includes any past “flooding, water intrusion, accumulation or drainage problem” as well as its nature and frequency. This information must be provided for every structure on the property, and explicitly includes the time period before the seller owned the property. Flood designations and hazard zones must be disclosed, and the seller must also provide the source and date for these designations—FEMA flood maps, surveys or other third-party oversight. Whether the property is in a wetland, or even has a pending wetland designation, must also be included in the form.

Apart from floods, sellers must also disclose “property damage, including, but not limited to, fire, wind, hail, lightning,” that occurred both before and during the seller’s ownership of the property.

MAINE — GRADE: F

Maine has no mandatory disclosure form, and state statute simply states that that sellers “shall disclose in a timely manner to a prospective buyer all material defects pertaining to the physical condition of the property of which the seller agent knew or, acting in a reasonable manner, should have known” without mentioning floods. Seller’s agents are “not obligated to discover latent defects in the property,” and cannot be held liable if they pass on false information that was provided by a client.

The 1999 court case Kezer v. Mark Stimson Assocs. held that sellers and their agents could not be held liable for failing to disclose neighborhood environmental hazards that had not significantly affected the property in question.

MARYLAND — GRADE: D

While Maryland does have a mandatory disclosure form, the only flood-related item asks if the property is located in a “flood zone, conservation area, wetland area, [or] Chesapeake Bay critical area.” The form also asks for the disclosure of “material defects,” though whether that applies to flooding or flood damage is not explicit.

MASSACHUSETTS — GRADE: F

State statute requires that a seller “disclose known material defects in real property” but provides no other guidance on floods and no mandatory form.

In 2008, the Massachusetts Supreme Court case Grossman v. Pouy saw a seller leave blank sections on a voluntary disclosure form related to roof and other structural deficiencies when the roof needed to be immediately replaced and walls were filled with mold and rodents. The court in this case found that failure to disclose serious defects that rose to the level of fraud could render sellers liable.

MICHIGAN — GRADE: C

Michigan does have mandatory disclosures, including for flood insurance, drainage or grading issues, and any “major damage to the property from fire, wind, floods or landslides.” Interestingly, the state explicitly allows counties or towns to add their own additional forms or disclosures, meaning some areas have potentially more stringent flood disclosure requirements for sellers or their agents.

MINNESOTA — GRADE: D

Though Minnesota does not have a mandatory disclosure form, state statute requires that a licensed real estate agent “disclose to a prospective purchaser all material facts of which the licensee is aware, which could adversely and significantly affect an ordinary purchaser’s use or enjoyment of the property, or any intended use of the property of which the licensee is aware.” According to NAR, this would include flooding or flood damage.

Ghost hunters, however, will be disappointed to learn that Minnesota explicitly exempts sellers from disclosing if there was any “perceived paranormal activity” on the property.

MISSISSIPPI — GRADE: A

Boasting one of the most comprehensive mandatory flood disclosure laws alongside Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, Mississippi requires sellers to detail, including dates and descriptions, of “damage to any portion of the physical structure resulting from fire, windstorm, hail, tornados, hurricane or any other natural disaster.” Additionally, the form asks for any “malfunction or defects” with windows or other infrastructure related to leaking. Flood plan hazard designations, including the FEMA map number must be disclosed, as well as current flood insurance and the price of the current premium. If the property has experienced standing water in the yard for more than 48 yards after a rain, that must also be disclosed.

Sellers must also detail any water damage regardless of source or reason, as well as steps taken to remedy those issues.

MISSOURI — GRADE: F

There are no mandatory flood disclosures or required forms in Missouri. Though licensed real estate agents must “disclose to any customer all adverse material facts actually known or that should have been known by the licensee,” they also “owe no duty to conduct an independent inspection or discover any adverse material facts for the benefit of the customer.”

In Keefhaver v. Kimbrell—a 2001 court case in which a buyer accused a seller of understating flood risk and basement leaks—the court ruled in favor of the buyer, even though she had only spent 30 minutes on the property before making an offer and waived her right to an inspection. The buyer was entitled to rely on the seller’s representations, the court ruled, due to their superior knowledge of facts that were “latent and…not easily ascertainable.”

MONTANA — GRADE: F

Though there are no mandatory forms or disclosures required of sellers, Montana state statute dictates that sellers must disclose “adverse material facts,” and defines those as “a fact that should be recognized by a broker or salesperson as being of enough significance as to affect a person’s decision to enter into a contract to buy or sell real property.” At the same time, a licensed real estate agent must “ascertain all pertinent facts concerning each property in any transaction…so that the licensee may fulfill the obligation to avoid error, exaggeration, misrepresentation or concealment of pertinent facts.”

A 2015 court ruling in Rutterud v. Gilbraith stated that that a real estate agent could not be held liable for failing to investigate a mold problem caused by known flooding under that law.

NEBRASKA — GRADE: C

State law requires sellers to provide a written statement that “substantially” follows the format of a standard disclosure form, which includes whether the property is in a flood hazard zone, a “floodway,” or if there are any “flooding, drainage or grading problems.” The law also requires disclosure of “adverse material facts,” which NAR states would likely include other flood or natural disaster related issues.

NEVADA — GRADE: C

Nevada requires a mandatory disclosure form for sellers that includes “previous or current moisture conditions and/or water damage,” along with “drainage, flooding, water seepage or high-water table.” Sellers must also disclose floodplain designations, along with “earth stability” and other landslide or earthquake-related issues.

NEW HAMPSHIRE — GRADE: F

The “Live Free or Die” state unsurprisingly has minimal requirements for seller disclosures around flooding. Real estate agents must disclose “material physical, regulatory, mechanical or on-site environmental condition[s] affecting the subject property of which the licensee has actual knowledge,” but the law explicitly states that it “shall not create an affirmative obligation on the part of the licensee to investigate material defects.”

Snierson v. Scruton, a 2000 court Supreme Court Case, ruled that a seller who used a voluntary disclosure form could still be held liable for fraud and negligent misrepresentation over septic tank leaching, even though that form “expressly warned that it did not constitute a warranty and was not a substitute for a buyer’s inspection.” The buyer still had to prove, however, that the seller demonstrated “conscious indifference to [the] truth with the intention to cause another to rely upon it.”

NEW JERSEY — GRADE: F

New Jersey’s code requires licensed real estate agents to provide a disclosure form that includes whether the property has flood or drainage problems or is located in a flood hazard. Agents are also specifically empowered to add or request more disclosures when appropriate, and are exempted from liability if they made a “reasonable and diligent inquiry” to discover if information given to them by a seller was false. There is no requirement that unlicensed sellers provide this disclosure.

The 1974 court case Weintraub v. Krobatsch held a seller and their agent responsible for not disclosing a cockroach infestation, which the FEMA panel posited could also apply to non-disclosure of flooding.

NEW MEXICO — GRADE: F

New Mexico requires licensed agents and brokers to disclose “any adverse material facts actually known by the associate broker or qualifying broker about the property or the transaction,” but makes no mention of flood or disasters and has no mandatory forms.

A 1984 court ruling in Gouveia v. Citicorp Person-to-Person Fin. Ctr., Inc. determined a broker could be held liable in a case where a property was listed as “All Top Shape” despite the fact that parts of the home had no foundation, could not be heated and had other major structural deficiencies. In this case, the broker had not even interacted directly with the buyer, but had simply provided a description of the property to an MLS.

NEW YORK — GRADE: F

New York’s mandatory flood disclosure law has an odd loophole: the penalty for not including the disclosure form is a paltry $500 credit due at closing. Both NAR and FEMA found that many attorneys have advised home sellers to simply pay this penalty rather than disclose potentially deal-sinking information about standing water on the property, historic flooding issues or floodplain designations. A bill currently stalled in the state legislature would repeal the $500 penalty system and add significant new flood disclosure requirements.

Simply paying the penalty, however, does not exempt a seller or agent from being held liable for “active concealment of a defect,” according to the 2018 court case Pesce v. Leimsider, in which a seller allegedly concealed water damage during a sale and inspection. Another court case in 2005 (Gabberty v Pisarz) in which a seller withheld information about chronic basement flooding ruled that a buyer can be awarded damages when there is a “willful failure” to disclose these things.

NORTH CAROLINA — GRADE: D

North Carolina does have a mandatory disclosure form that asks narrowly if the property is “subject to a flood hazard or…located in a federally-designated flood hazard area.” It also asks about water seepage or standing water in the basement, but does not require any disclosures related to flood damage or historic flooding.

NORTH DAKOTA — GRADE: C

State statute in North Dakota requires significant disclosures around flooding, including whether it was ever damaged by a flood, has drainage issues or is in a flood zone. It also asks whether the property has been “damaged by fire, smoke, wind, floods, hail, snow, frozen pipes or broken water line…condensation or ice buildup,” and requires explanations for those issues.

A 1985 court case (Holcomb v. Zinke) also explicitly exempted certain real estate transactions from the “buyer beware” doctrine of common law, ruling that “passive concealment” by a seller could constitute fraud.

OHIO — GRADE: C

A mandatory Ohio disclosure form asks if there are previous or current water leaks, rain gutter issues, water accumulation, moisture, or other material damage related to flooding or any other water intrusion. Fire or smoke damage is also included, and any mitigation or repairs over the last five years to address these things must also be divulged. It also requires disclosure of historic flooding, as well as if the property is in a designated floodplain or Lake Erie Coastal Erosion Zone.

OKLAHOMA — GRADE: A

Any seller who has occupied a property in Oklahoma must fill out a mandatory disclosure form and must disclose a variety of specific flood zone designations, flood insurance, historic flooding and interior leakage or drainage issues. They must also disclose “major fire, tornado, hail, earthquake or wind damage.” An additional stipulation requires licensed real estate agents to disclose property defects they know of that are not stated on the seller’s disclosure form, and they can be disciplined by the state if they fail to do so.

OREGON — GRADE: C

Oregon has a mandatory form that must be proactively delivered to each person that makes an offer on a property. That disclosure includes whether there has been “material damage to the property or any of the structure from fire, wind, floods, beach movements, earthquake, expansive soils or landslides.” There are also questions as to floodplain designation or “geologic hazard zone.” There is no requirement to disclose flood insurance mandates, though the form does advise buyers that any floodplain designation could result in the need for insurance.

PENNSYLVANIA — GRADE: C

A mandatory form in Pennsylvania asks sellers about leaky roofs, basement leakage or dampness or repairs to mitigate those issues. It also requires floodplain disclosure, as well as past or present flooding issues affecting the property generally.

RHODE ISLAND — GRADE: D

Rhode Island mandates certain disclosures without providing a form. Among the required information is the vague directive that sellers include “Basement (Seepage, Leaks, Cracks, etc.)” along with “Flood Plain (Flood Insurance)” and  “Fire,” without further defining what any of this means. Location of nearby wetlands, or if the property is on wetlands, must also be disclosed. .

A 2003 court ruling in Stebbins v. Wells, involving undisclosed severe erosion on a coastal property, stated that sellers and their agents could be held liable for “passive concealment” in some circumstances and explicitly pushed back against the “buyer beware” doctrine.

SOUTH CAROLINA — GRADE: C

South Carolina’s mandatory disclosure form includes specific statutory language requiring sellers to report flood problems, flood hazards or designations, all FEMA claims and the dates they were filed, as well as current flood insurance. Fire, smoke or other water “problems” must be divulged as well. It also requires a real estate agent to disclose known “adverse facts” about the property even if the seller omitted them.

South Carolina also explicitly allows waiving all these disclosure requirements as long as both parties agree to do so in writing. Certain time-sharing and vacation home plans are also exempt from disclosure.

SOUTH DAKOTA — GRADE: C

South Dakota has a mandatory disclosure form laid out in state statute that includes “water penetration” issues, standing water on the property, roof leaks and any water damage that was repaired or not repaired. Sellers must also disclose previous flood insurance claims made on the property.

TENNESSEE — GRADE: B

Tennessee offers a disclosure form that is technically not mandatory, but state statute warns that any real estate transaction must include all items and provisions laid out in that form. Those items and provisions include “flooding, drainage, or grading problems,” flood insurance requirements, and property damage from fire, earthquakes, floods or landslides, as well as if that damage has been repaired. Sellers must also disclose any recent surveys conducted of the property, which could include information about flooding or flood risk.

TEXAS — GRADE: A

A state that has seen more than its share of flooding and disasters, Texas’s disclosure laws require comprehensive declarations regarding flooding and other adverse natural events. Water damage, fire damage, flooding from a “controlled or emergency release” of a reservoir, or from natural flood event, and six specific floodplain designations must all be disclosed by law. Sellers must also divulge current flood insurance and past flood insurance claims. Additionally, the law explicitly allows a buyer to terminate a contract if the seller does not provide the mandatory disclosures when entering into a purchase agreement.

UTAH — GRADE: F

With no flood or mandatory disclosure rules, Utah only generally asks real estate agents to divulge “known material facts” regarding “a defect in the property.” A 2002 court case involving a real estate agent who was selling property owned by her husband found that the agent and her brokerage were liable for failing to disclose “chocolate pudding-like” mud that made the land untenable for development.

VERMONT — GRADE: F

There are no mandatory flood disclosure forms or requirements in Vermont. A state statute regarding “unprofessional conduct” by licensed real estate agents allows the state to discipline those who fail “to fully disclose…all material facts within the licensee’s knowledge concerning the property being sold.”

A 1998 court case (Carter v. Gugliuzzi) held a seller’s brokerage responsible for failing to disclose regular dangerous wind on a property, even though the broker was only aware of this fact because he happened to live in the area.

VIRGINIA — GRADE: F

The FEMA panel excoriated Virginia’s flood disclosure laws as “the opposite of buyer friendly.” While the state does have a mandatory disclosure form, that form explicitly exonerates the seller from disclosing flood-related items and warns the buyer to “exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary” to learn about flood risks, flooding or flood designations on the property. An update to the relevant statute scheduled to go into effect in 2022 will “make available” a flood information sheet to buyers that speaks generally about flooding and insurance requirements under federal law.

In the 2015 court case Devine v. Buki, a seller was held liable for fraudulently lying about leaks and water damage in the foundation of a 200-year-old house, with a judge rescinding the sale and awarding the buyer $100,000 in attorney’s fees.

WASHINGTON — GRADE: C

Washington’s disclosure rules are applied differently to “improved” residential real estate—properties that have a structure or structures on them—and “unimproved” properties that do not. For both types of properties, sellers must disclose flooding events, material damage from “floods, beach movements, earthquake, expansive soils or landslides” and “shorelines, wetlands, floodplains or critical areas” on the property. “Improved” properties must also include basement flooding events, while “unimproved” properties must specifically disclose federal floodplain designations.

WEST VIRGINIA — GRADE: F

West Virginia does not even have a state law that generally governs real estate disclosures—though at least two have been introduced by the legislature since 1996. Thacker v. Tyree, a 1982 court case provided some precedent that “defects or conditions which substantially affect the value or habitability of the property” must be disclosed by a seller, and another court case (Darrisaw v. Old Colony Realty Co.) in 1997 applied that doctrine in part to a home with an undivulged “high water problem.” That ruling added that a misrepresentation like this must be proven a “substantial factor in inducing the purchaser to buy the property” in order to hold the seller liable.

WISCONSIN — GRADE: D

Wisconsin has two mandatory disclosure forms: one for vacant land containing no buildings, and one for property with dwelling units. The form dealing with inhabited structures only asks if the property is in a floodplain, wetland or shoreland zoning area, along with a specific question about basement defects which “may include items such as flooding.” The vacant land disclosure form includes the same floodplain disclosures, but additionally asks if the property has suffered “material damage from fire, wind, flood, earthquake, expansive soil, erosion or landslide,” or if there is “water diversion, water intrusion or other irritants emanating from neighboring property.”

WYOMING —GRADE: F

With no mandatory form or flood disclosures, licensed real estate agents must still disclose “adverse material facts actually known by the licensee” to buyers, including “material defects in the property and any environmental hazards.”

In the 2006 court case Reed v. Cloninger the court stated that buyers could pursue legal claims against real estate agents “for misrepresenting the condition of the property, provided they knew or reasonably should have known of the defect.”

Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com.

The post Flood and Disaster Disclosures: Law, Precedent and Grades for All 50 States appeared first on RISMedia.

The Keys to Success: One-on-One With Dermot Buffini

3 hours 42 min ago

When it comes to succeeding in real estate—or any industry—there are no secrets.
Instead, Dermot Buffini, CEO of Buffini & Company, said there are only keys that anyone can use to take charge of their lives, careers and business outcomes.

In “The Keys to Success,” Buffini joined RISMedia President, Founder and CEO John Featherston to discuss his top leadership strategies for real estate professionals to take control of their success—no matter how the market shifts.

The one-on-one, break-out session, which Featherston moderated, was held during RISMedia’s 2021 Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange. Co-presented by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the exclusive, full-day virtual event attracted thousands of industry professionals on Sept. 14.

Featherson asked about some of the pearls of wisdom that Buffini learned about leadership over the last year and a half.

“This last season, leaders have had to be very present and very consistent, and I don’t see this letting up because we are living in a world that is even more distracted,” Buffini said, adding that good leaders have leaned into the fundamentals of business and leadership to weather the shifting market.

Buffini also noted that leaders used the past year to grow and develop amid the increasing number of distractions during the pandemic as well as the market shifts that have occured.

“If you have these keys and you put them in the right place, and you turn them in the right direction, you’re going to be successful,” Buffini said, offering three of his most imperative keys.

– Be Clear: “You must be clear in what your value is in the marketplace, and you must be clear in what you want to achieve financially, in your business…and at whatever else is important to you.”

– Track your Progress: “One of the ways we help people make progress fast is we help them measure. Nine times out of ten with our clients, you’re making the most kind of progress when it doesn’t feel like you are because you’re in it.”

– Get help: “The more successful you become, the more help you need.”

Zeroing in on RISMedia’s robust audience of real professionals, Featherston also asked Buffini to shed light on his take on approaching business with a leadership mentality no matter career level.

“Whether you’re a broker with five agents or you own a company with 50,000, it’s the same process,” Buffini said, encouraging viewers to take charge of their personal and professional goals while also charting their path toward accomplishing them.

“At the end of the day, if we take responsibility for our life, it gives us power,” Buffini said. “It gives us energy, it motivates us and it encourages us, but it also allows us not to become a victim to our circumstances or our past.”

In the session’s final moments, Buffini offered his thoughts on leadership across generations and how older professionals can work with younger real estate professionals more effectively.

Give [younger generations] the principles that they need to engage and build trust in what you know will help them be successful,” Buffini said. “Your way and your attitude might not be the way that the younger generation wants to be led, and if you can adjust and focus on those people, you’re not going to have a problem leading anybody from any generation.”

RISMedia is providing free access to select sessions from the event. Hear from Buffini in this insightful one-on-one with Featherston:

Miss the event? Click here to purchase access to all the sessions at a special discount.

Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange 2021 Sponsors

Diamond Sponsors
Buffini & Company
Center for REALTOR® Development
Inside Real Estate
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Realty ONE Group

Platinum Sponsors
Elm Street Technology
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Master Sponsors
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Homes.com
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Host Sponsors
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
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Event Sponsors
Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®)
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Stay tuned for additional coverage from RISMedia’s Real Estate CEO & Agent Exchange.

Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jgrice@rismedia.com.

The post The Keys to Success: One-on-One With Dermot Buffini appeared first on RISMedia.

HUD Announces New Hires

3 hours 43 min ago

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced several key additions to HUD staff since July.

Appointees are listed below in alphabetical order:

– Crystal Bergemann, Senior Advisor – Climate, Office of the Secretary

– Patrick Byrne, Congressional Relations Specialist, Office of Congressional & Intergovernmental Relations

– Demetria McCain, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

– Freedom Alexander Murphy, Deputy Press Secretary, Office of Public Affairs

– Daniela Perez, Assistant Press Secretary, Office of Public Affairs

– Mia Pittman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs, Federal Housing Administration

– Brad Pollock, Special Assistant, Office of Policy Development & Research

– Nathan Shultz, Senior Advisor, Office of Housing – Federal Housing Administration

Source: HUD

The post HUD Announces New Hires appeared first on RISMedia.

Regional Spotlight, NYC Associations Hosting Global Real Estate Summit NYC

3 hours 43 min ago

The Global Real Estate Summit NYC will take place Thursday, Sept. 30.

The global summit, now in its 15th year, will feature both in-person and virtual options, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The event is being hosted by eight regional REALTOR® associations, including the Hudson Gateway Association of REALTORS® (HGAR), Greater Bergen REALTORS®, North Central Jersey Association of REALTORS®, Brooklyn MLS and Staten Island Board of REALTORS®.

Early-bird event pricing is available via the event website, www.GlobalRESummit.com through Sept. 20.

“Our industry has witnessed unprecedented challenges so it’s imperative we share lessons learned and explore new opportunities for succeeding in the global marketplace,” said Richard Haggerty, CEO of the HGAR and president and chief strategic growth officer of OneKey® MLS. “Our Global Summit is designed to provide the critical insight needed to navigate a changing landscape.”

Global Real Estate Summit NYC will feature presentations and panel discussions addressing global real estate and economic forecasts, emerging trends in design and architecture, international negotiations, urbanism and technology, and using cryptocurrency in real estate.

“This year’s Global Real Estate Summit will create the opportunity for all attendees to learn about emerging trends in the global real estate environment,” said Jorge Ledesma, CEO, Greater Bergen REALTORS®, ina statement. “The landscape for global real estate continues to shift, so it is vital that we learn tomorrow’s trends, today, to provide elevated services to our customers and consumers.”

For more information on the event, please visit www.globalresummit.com.

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Industry Reels out West As Drought Wreaks Havoc on Summer Real Estate Markets

12 hours 38 min ago

Jennifer Fortune is as bullish on Lake Tahoe real estate as anybody. She’s been serving buyers and sellers in the pristine neighborhoods of the southern region of the lake for a decade. As an agent with Chase International, she is active on both sides of the California-Nevada state line, and she’s enjoyed the weather-related ebbs and flows of the local market on a mostly upward trajectory—until this summer.

With the siege of the 219,267-acre Caldor Fire, which as of mid-September has yet to be contained, Fortune’s confidence and that of the hundreds of agents across the American West who’ve made a living in heavy forest communities—some, like Lake Tahoe, are world-renowned for their scenic beauty and gorgeous estates—is beginning to wane in the face of such devastation.

Currently, more than 100 separate wildfires are raging from as far east as Minnesota. According to Cal Fire, the emergency management authority for California, which has, by far, the most wildfires, 3,285 structures have been damaged or destroyed this year with at least three fatalities and the scorching of more than 2.24 million acres in California, alone.

The Caldor Fire by Lake Tahoe has crushed the summer home-buying season, which usually climaxes around Labor Day weekend, and forced the evacuation of thousands, including Fortune.

“I don’t see how it cannot have an impact on the market,” Fortune says on her 13th day of evacuation. “We’ll recover, but this has to have an impact.”

Even in areas where there isn’t an immediate danger, the roads are closed, the forests are inaccessible and the air quality is poor. Fortune indicated some have come back, but most who planned on buying or selling are delaying their plans.

Fortune expects the full impact of these fires will not be known for weeks or maybe months, and then it will all be up to the winter ski season. If it’s a snowy winter, that could bring in skiers and support the economy as well as reduce the risk of another dry summer next year. Dryness and winds are the biggest triggers for forest fires.

However, there are major issues that have to play out before then—mainly insurance. In California, there is a state-mandated moratorium preventing insurance companies from canceling or non-renewing policies in Siskiyou, Lassen and Plumas Counties for a full year. People who want to buy can’t get a new policy and existing ones have gone through the roof—up 80% over the past two years in some cases, Fortune says.

Sabrina R. Belleci, a broker/owner with RE/MAX North Lake, has been active in the Lake Tahoe region for 12 years. She’s been through several of these multi-season drought cycles in that time, but she suggests the current state of the markets is much more complicated due to COVID-19.

“COVID is stretching out the seasons,” Belleci says. “Normally, it starts to slow in the fall, but I think it will be okay. People are relocating and getting out of California and the higher income-tax states. There is still quite a bit of demand.”

The trend aligns with Fortune’s thesis that an underlying demand for the Lake Tahoe lifestyle will eventually resurface. It’s just not clear how long that will take. If it’s just a brief market correction, that actually may be easy for the market to withstand since it was running so hot prior to the fires, fueled by new remote workers from all over the U.S. who became untethered from their office jobs on account of the pandemic.

Most expect that greater trend to remain even if to a lesser extent post-COVID. Still, a quick rebound in Lake Tahoe is probably not in the cards due to the sheer amount of clean-up to perform and institutional hurdles to clear. The first wave is trickling in with bargain-seekers looking to take advantage of the soft market and snap up a few of the waterfront trophy properties, Fortune says.

“The only buyers are people thinking they’re going to get deals,” Fortune says. “On the lake, a couple things went quickly, including a condo in three days for $2.5 million on the Nevada side. The desirable properties will hold up.”

Then, the Nevada side will likely rebound first due to the insurance situation, Belleci says, citing some of the higher-rated fire districts which reduce insurance premiums.

The timing on this, though, is anyone’s guess. Plus, reconstruction efforts could be unusually slow due to a shortage of materials and labor as well as logistical and accessibility challenges.

“No one is cancelling as much as they’re just delaying,” Fortune says. “The longer it takes, the more it could increase inventory in the mid- to long-term. It’s always changing, but I think we’re definitely in for a change. I think prices will drop.”

In the meantime, one group that is not waiting for the market to recover is the local bear population. Fortune’s home county, in which 700 residents lost their homes to the Caldor Fire, has also seen a barrage of bear break-ins after the evacuation. At least 70 have been reported, Fortune says. Upon being displaced by the fire, these hungry animals stumble upon vacant homes which, in some cases, have fully-stacked refrigerators.

“There’s tons of bear damage,” Fortune says. “People have to come home after being evacuated and then they have to clean up.”

Forty miles to the north, Broker Karen Degney of Realty ONE Group in Reno, Nevada, has been dealing with the effects of the Dixie Fire, which is four times larger than Caldor—1,329 structures have been destroyed, including 736 single and multifamily homes. She said its massive smoke plume has reached the Rockies, slowing the local real estate market and giving some clients buyer’s remorse.

“I’ve had more than one person bring it up,” she says. “One who was closing escrow said, ‘We wish we would have known about these fires, and maybe we wouldn’t have bought here.’”

Degney expects the fires from this summer to produce a ripple effect around Nevada and California. Those displaced by the Dixie and Caldor fires could move to the remaining large population centers: Carson City, Reno and what’s left of Southern Lake Tahoe. There is also a lot of back-and-forth as many local Nevadans split time in California’s Bay Area and Sacramento. That trend could be disrupted in the short-term as well, Degney says.

Degney says she talks to her clients at length about the drought and subsequent fire crisis to try to put the disaster into context and relieve their concerns.

“I tell them this stuff is happening nationwide,” she says. “We are in a drought, but we are in a drought on the whole West Coast. This isn’t normal. It’s extraordinary and the rest of the time it’s wonderful.”

Andrew King is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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When Will the Housing Market Crash?

12 hours 39 min ago

When will the housing market crash? This was one of the top three questions people posed on Google this past spring. Why? Because too many buyers have post-traumatic stress from the 2008 meltdown. While it’s fascinating to see how many people still live in fear of that exact scenario happening again, the truth is, we’re not even close to the market crashing!

The 2008 meltdown was an economic crisis, real estate crisis and credit crisis all at once. We don’t even have one of those crises going on right now. Last year after the pandemic hit, as far as I know, I was the first to publicly say that this was not a 2008 scenario. To watch the video and read more about it, visit www.ThisIsNot2008.com.

How was I so sure right at that moment, during the height of the lockdown, that the market wouldn’t crash?

One reason: inventory. Inventory levels were decreasing each week, and for the market to tip over, inventory must increase dramatically. Inventory was excessively low all winter and spring, which led to buyers fighting over properties, multiple-offer situations and cash buyers winning while everyone else was losing.

Once spring came around, everyone thought we’d be stuck with extremely low inventory for a long time. In fact, many were thinking it would be a non-stop frenzy. I knew it would ease up by this summer, and it has. Over the last 60 days, sellers have been coming out of the woodwork and listing their homes.

What are buyers doing? Many are acting like there’s blood in the water and wondering if the market is about to crash.

What are sellers doing? In many cases, they’re not accepting the fact that this shift is happening and are of the mindset that inventory is excessively low like it was last winter and spring.

Here’s the bottom line: we will not see the housing market crash, at least in the next 18 months. Even if inventory lifts a lot more, there are not enough homes for sale. And the number of buyers who didn’t find homes is substantial, so homes will keep getting eaten up. By winter, we will run right back into low inventory. I don’t believe it will be as low as it was last winter, but it will be low—and there will be plenty of bidding wars.

We need to communicate this to buyers by showing them the data, charts and graphs from our MLS. If you get them to understand what’s happening and the way the market flows on a seasonal basis, they’ll be dying to buy a property this summer.

At some point, interest rates are going to go up, so if someone scores now while there’s more for sale and interest rates are still low, they’ll do well. Those who wait will end up regretting it and paying more.

Anthony Lamacchia is broker/owner of Lamacchia Realty and Crush It In Real Estate. For more information, visit www.lamacchiarealty.com.

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Meybohm Real Estate Measures the Dividends of Tech Via Agent Time-Savings

12 hours 41 min ago

After almost half a century in real estate, it’d be easy for Augusta, Georgia-based Meybohm Real Estate to rest on its laurels. With 340 agents and five offices, the brokerage caters to clients in 14 different counties throughout Georgia and South Carolina.

Still, that hasn’t stymied Meybohm Real Estate’s desire to stay ahead of the game, which is why the brokerage has spent recent years beefing up its website and real estate CRM software.

“We’ve taken the largest stand in our community against our competitors as far as what we offer our agents with technology and services,” says Meybohm Real Estate Chief Marketing Officer Megan Moye. “Being able to say that we’ve changed and evolved our brand to become more tech-forward and agent- and client-services geared than our competitors was a critical piece.”

An integral part of their recent tech overhaul and rebrand was Propertybase, a global real estate and mortgage software company recently acquired by Lone Wolf Technologies that provides CRM software, website builder, lead generation and transaction management solutions for independent brokerages.

Propertybase helped spruce up the front-end of the firm’s website, which Moye says has given them a leg up on the competition. Additionally, Moye says the new brokerage page has improved lead generation and conversion by offering dozens of touchpoints for clients.

“As much as people want to say they’ve got an all-in-one platform, Propertybase is pretty darn close,” she says. “I feel like they hit the mark on being both aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly.”

On the back end, custom agent-facing databases and CRM tools have been a boon for agents, providing a revamped approach to marketing their brands and building and nurturing client relationships.

“Propertybase has streamlined a lot of what our agents want to do, cutting down time, which is the most important thing I can give an agent—time back in their days and with their families,” says Moye.

Tech offerings and services were enough to bring Meybohm Real Estate and Propertybase together, but exceptional customer service has proven to be a shining star in the relationship.

“It’s by far one of the biggest reasons that we would never want to change from them,” Moye says. “They’ve been a true partner. They are side by side with us until we are up and running.”

That includes being there through staffing and training changes as well as different website needs, Moye adds.

Since launching their new site, Meybohm Real Estate’s marketing team has expanded, including positions devoted to training agents on the new website and its back-end features.

“In the end, it has paid off in dividends because it’s proven to be a lot easier to train agents on and assist agents with,” Moye says.

Though she admits that the firm is still working on getting full adoption among agents, most are already benefiting from their new CRM.

“I feel like agents are a lot more confident in this site,” Moye says. “They have adopted it a lot quicker because they know the responsibility we took to make it what it is and to provide that for them.”

Looking ahead, Moye and her team plan to make the firm’s website as user-friendly and as seamless as possible for its clients while also helping agents implement it into their businesses.

“While it’s a more platform-based site, Propertybase allows you to make it your own and work on your goals, and be objective of communities changing and expanding our reach,” Moye says. “They have been a catalyst for us to expand our reach.”

For more information, please visit www.propertybase.com.

Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jgrice@rismedia.com.

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Brand Report: RE/MAX National Housing for August 2021

12 hours 42 min ago

August home sales dropped 3.5% from July’s total—and the median sale price slipped 1.2% to $335,000—as seasonal norms signaled that 2021’s busiest home-buying and selling months are probably behind us. Despite these drops, August still almost broke records for home sales signaling a still-hot market.

August’s low number of days on market (24) and meager months supply of inventory (1.3) reversed two months of inventory gains as strong demand amid tight inventory conditions persisted.

“The slight seasonal decline in home sales from July to August was countered by this being the second-highest August sales total in the 13-year history of our report. So, although we appear to be past the blistering summer peak, the market is still very active,” said Nick Bailey, president, RE/MAX, LLC, in a statement. “In fact, the drop in home prices might signal to potential sellers that it’s time to get off the fence in case they fall further, which in turn could draw more buyers back into the mix. In any case, it seems likely that the combination of super-quick sales and a severe lack of inventory will be with us for the foreseeable future.”

With year-over-year comparisons skewed by the pandemic, July-to-August averages for 2015-2019 illustrate what’s typical in late summer:

The month-over-month decline of 1.2% in August’s median sales price compares with the 2015-2019 average July-to-August drop of 1.0%. YoY, the median sales price is up 13.2%.

The 6.2% month-over-month drop in active inventory was nearly double the 2015-2019 average July-to-August decline of 3.3%. Inventory is down 26.7% year-over-year.
Home sales dropped 3.5% from July, compared to the 2015-2019 average decline of 2.1%. However, August home sales were one of the largest totals of any month in the 13-year history of the report and the second-largest for the month and year-over-year, sales were up 0.6%.

August’s average days on market of 24 was one day more than July and reflected sales that were 18 days faster, on average, than in August 2020. The months supply of inventory in August of 1.3 declined from July’s 1.5 and was significantly less than August 2020’s 1.9 months supply.

Highlights and the local markets leading various metrics for August include:

Closed Transactions
Of the 51 metro areas surveyed in August 2021, the overall average number of home sales is down 3.5% compared to July 2021, and up 0.6% compared to August 2020.  Leading the year-over-year sales percentage increase were New York, New York, at +55.1%, Honolulu, Hawaii, at +37.3%, and Las Vegas, Nevada, at +12.5%.

Median Sales Price – Median of 51 Metro Median Prices
In August 2021, the median of all 51 metro median sales prices was $335,000, down 1.2% compared to July 2021, and up 13.2% from August 2020. No metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in median sales price. Thirty-six metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, led by Boise, Idaho, at +30.6%, Phoenix, Arizona, at +24.9%, and Salt Lake City, Utah, at +22.3%.

Days on Market – Average of 51 Metro Areas
The average days on market for homes sold in August 2021 was 24, up one day from the average in July 2021, and down 18 days from the average in August 2020. The metro areas with the lowest days on market were a two-way tie between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Nashville, Tennessee, at 10, and Omaha, Nebraska, at 13. The highest days on market averages were in Des Moines, Iowa, at 83, Miami, Florida, at 67, and New York, New York, at 57. Days on market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.

Months Supply of Inventory – Average of 51 Metro Areas
The number of homes for sale in August 2021 was down 6.2% from July 2021 and down 26.7% from August 2020. Based on the rate of home sales in August 2021, the months supply of inventory decreased to 1.3 compared to 1.5 in July 2021, and decreased compared to 1.9 in August 2020. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In August 2021, of the 51 metro areas surveyed, zero metro areas reported a months supply at or over six. The markets with the lowest months supply of inventory included a five-way tie among Albuquerque, New Mexico; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Seattle, Washington; Denver, Colorado; and Charlotte, North Carolina at 0.6.

For more information, please visit www.remax.com.

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United Real Estate’s Virtual Properties Realty Exceeds 4,000th Agent Mark

12 hours 43 min ago

Virtual Properties Realty (VPR), a United® Real Estate company, announced it has eclipsed the 4,000-agent mark and reportedly holds the No. 1 market share position in Georgia by completing more real estate transactions than any other privately owned residential brokerage over the past 12 months. The company also celebrated record-breaking, single-month sales of $356 million in July.

What began as a small, family-run business almost two decades ago, VPR now has 14 offices that assist buyers and sellers with residential, commercial, waterfront, land and many other property types from the Georgia Coast to Greater Atlanta and into North Georgia and the Smokies.

Co-Founders Steve Wagner and Karen Burks celebrated these milestone achievements at their “Road to 4,000” affiliate and client appreciation event held at their home office in Atlanta.

“We are so thankful for the expertise of our brokers, agents and staff who have propelled our success since the very beginning. Although we are celebrating our collective, hard-won achievements, it is our honesty and integrity that matter most,” said Wagner in a statement. “Virtual Properties Realty will always seek to be a leader in the implementation of technology and a champion of training and education for the best possible outcomes for our clients. Since our merger with United Real Estate, we have been rolling out proprietary, cloud-based technologies to our agents with more planned for the months ahead.”

VPR merged with United Real Estate in 2020.

“VPR Co-Founders Steve Wagner, Karen Burks and their staff have done an amazing job cultivating a thriving brokerage that now ranks as the top market share holder in Atlanta and the state of Georgia. VPR has created a culture of success by adapting quickly to the changing real estate landscape. From humble beginnings, these trailblazers built a wildly successful brokerage through a deep commitment to agent training and offering 100% agent commission—almost unheard of in Atlanta at the time,” said Richard Haase, president of United Real Estate, in a statement. “The firm’s talented team of agents, employees and brokers should be extremely proud of their remarkable accomplishment. We are thrilled to call VPR a member of our United family.”

For more information, please visit
www.united realestate.com.

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Realogy Announces Term Loan Repayments

12 hours 44 min ago

Realogy Holdings Corp. announced that it has repaid an aggregate of $435 million of outstanding borrowings under its term loan facilities as of Sept. 16, 2021. The debt repayment was funded with cash on hand.

The repayments satisfy in full the $197 million principal amount of outstanding borrowings under its non-extended Term Loan A facility due February 2023 and the $238 million principal amount of outstanding borrowings under its Term Loan B facility due February 2025. The company expects to realize approximately $10 million in cash interest expense savings annually as a result of these repayments. The company also continues to have no outstanding balance on its revolving credit facility since October 2020.

“Realogy has delivered outstanding financial performance while maintaining a proactive focus on strengthening our balance sheet. The repayment of these near-term secured loans improves our liquidity profile and supports our continued efforts to manage our debt portfolio,” said Charlotte Simonelli, CFO and treasurer of Realogy, in a statement. “We have made tremendous progress to date and remain committed to continuing to deleverage, strengthen our balance sheet, and strategically invest in our business for the future.”

For more information, please visit www.realogy.com.

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NAR Statement: Administration Suspending Portions of the 2021 PSAs

Sat, 09/18/2021 - 03:00

National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President Charlie Oppler issued the following statement about the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the U.S. Department of the Treasury suspending certain provisions added to the Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Jan.14, 2021:

“NAR applauds the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Treasury’s action to suspend implementation of several components of the January amendments to the Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements. NAR has continuously urged the administration since January to delay these amendments, voicing our concern loud and clear that such changes would limit the enterprises’ ability to appropriately serve the overall U.S. housing market as intended in crisis as well as first-time buyers, those in underserved communities, investor properties and second-home purchases.

“We are thankful that the administration took action, but it is imperative that we finalize these actions and reform the capital rule. REALTORS® believe the future housing finance system must provide mortgage capital in all markets, at all times, and under all economic conditions. To do this, they will need to maintain adequate capital and an explicit government guarantee in the secondary market, which supports the availability of long term, fixed-rate mortgage products.

“NAR has carried the torch for advocating on behalf of REALTORS® to Treasury and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to suspend these Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements components and continue the conversation of what would be best for future homebuyers across this country. We appreciate the administration’s efforts to continuously support the market during the toughest parts of the pandemic and we look forward to collaborating on sustainable homeownership opportunities and shaping the future of the conventional housing finance market.”

For more information, please visit
www.nar.realtor.

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Home Remodeling: One Potential Solution to Aging Housing Issues

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 12:04

While new construction is critical in addressing the inventory challenges, experts say that may only partially fix the persisting housing shortage in the United States.

“Over time, aging housing is also likely to increase the rate at which homes deteriorate to the point of functional obsolescence—a factor that would further increase the need to build new housing to replace them,” says David Bank, senior vice president of Rosen Consulting Group (RCG).

RCG co-authored a June report, “Housing Is Critical Infrastructure: Social and Economic Benefits of Building More Housing,” with the National Association of REALTORS®, that painted a clearer picture of the nation’s decades-long underbuilding gap.

The study indicated that lagging new construction has left the market with a 5.5 million to 6.8 million housing unit gap. The growing number of outdated existing homes in the market that need renovation or rehabilitation is part of that mix, according to Bank.

Prior to the housing boom of the early 2000s and subsequent extended underbuilding, the report showed that one-third of the U.S. housing stock was more than 40 years old. By 2019, that number surged to more than 50% of housing units.

“The aging housing stock adds to the costs of homeownership because of the need for larger upfront investments in renovating properties after the initial purchase and greater ongoing maintenance costs for older homes,” Bank says.

Remodeling Opportunities

Despite the mid-summer improvement in housing starts and government intentions to add affordable housing options, experts believe that remodeling and rehabilitation of aging stock will also need to happen in order to address the housing crisis.

“New construction is not likely to keep up with demand and bring that median [house] age down. That points to a lot of continued activity in remodeling in terms of replacement projects,” says Abbe Will, associate project director in the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University.
In a July report, the JCHS projected an uptick in homeowner improvement and maintenance spending through mid-year 2022.  According to Will, nearly half of the home improvement spending goes toward needed replacement projects.

“We describe these as projects that you need to do at some point, like roof replacement and major equipment in the home like furnaces and AC units,” Will says. “You’ll see spikes in spending for that reason as the home ages.”

While the remodeling sector could be poised for a longer boom, real estate professionals will need to help their clients navigate markets with an abundance of older homes, according to Nick Warren, founder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Warren Residential in Boston.

“It’s definitely not easy,” Warren says. “A lot of times, people have a hard time visualizing the potential of something. Even though we see renovations happen all the time, and properties get turned around, it’s still hard for people to have the vision.”
Warren thinks it’s essential to determine client preferences. He notes that providing examples of similar homes renovated to the client’s taste can mitigate concerns and apprehension.

Transparency with buyers is another critical component that Warren says agents should lean on when guiding their clients. That also includes helping clients manage their expectations and excitement of homeownership with the reality behind purchasing an older home that’s in need of renovations.

“You don’t want someone going into something completely blind because they just don’t have the experience, so you want to make sure they know that there are some major big-ticket items that potentially could cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially in a market like ours,” Warren says.

Building relationships with investors may also be another worthwhile route , according to Carrie Little, managing broker of CarMarc Realty Group.

Along with seeing an uptick in buyers opting for a 203K loan to renovate homes, Little has noticed trends of investors buying and rehabbing long-vacant properties.

“Many investors are coming back to the rental and Airbnb market and using this opportunity to renovate older homes to give Chicago visitors an opportunity for their guests to experience older Chicago,” Little says.

Maximizing Space

Shifting housing preferences among different buyer demographics coupled with a dearth of undeveloped lots may increase investment in remodeling older existing properties, according to Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB).

“People want more space with more folks working, studying and exercising at home and all those factors,” Dietz says, adding that increased demands for more energy-efficient homes will also drive up investment.

Different trends have taken root in various markets, including an uptick in constructing accessory dwelling units (ADUs)—also known as granny flats, garage apartments and in-law suites—in high-cost markets.

“In surveys that we’ve done about remodelers, about a fifth of remodelers indicate that they have undertaken an ADU installation or construction into an existing home,” Dietz says. “The typical costs are around $150,000, and that can fit multiple forms—restructuring basements, attics or garages.”

According to a 2020 report from Freddie Mac, nearly 70,000 properties with ADUs were sold in 2019. The popularity continued into 2020 and 2021, according to Idaho-based contractor Amy Allgeyer.

“The demand for ADUs is definitely higher than it was a year ago and definitely higher than three years ago,” Allgeyer says. “I get calls from people who want to build an ADU every week.”

Working in Boise’s historic district, Allgeyer notes that she has completed several projects on aging and smaller homes for different clients looking to make more space on their city block properties.

“I get younger couples who are trying to offset rising property taxes so they want to build an ADU long-term rental,” she says, adding that she also gets orders from older homeowners looking to move family members and caretakers into the spaces as they age in place.

In other cases, Allgeyer suggests the demand is also driven by people looking for work or study space amid the pandemic.

“All demographics are looking at these as solutions to particular problems that they are facing,” says Allgeyer.

New Home, Old Foundation

Another option that has become increasingly popular in some markets has been teardown construction—demolishing an existing home to rebuild a newer property on the foundation.

According to Dietz, the NAHB estimates that up to 7% of single-family homebuilding comprises teardown construction instead of remodeling.

“I think that market share is likely to rise given the fact that you do have homes in enviable commuting locations like inner suburbs,” Dietz says.

According to Brian Stetler of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, that’s been the case in markets across Pennsylvania.

According to Stetler, the trend started in the Gladwyn township and has continued to expand into suburban areas throughout the state as developers have entered run-down neighborhoods to buy properties.

For Stetler, his clients prefer new construction instead of renovated or remodeled properties.

“I have relationships with builders that will let me know when they are purchasing a property,” Stetler says, adding that he works with the clients and developers to get agreements signed before the demolition begins.

“This is the product that everyone wants right now,” Stetler continues. “Clients will pay much more for new construction per square foot than they would for a fully renovated home.”

Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jgrice@rismedia.com.

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The ‘It Girl’ of 2021: Why a Housing Market Crash Is Unlikely

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 12:03

As the real estate market has veered into uncharted territory over the past 18 months, taking the whole industry on a roller-coaster ride of unprecedented surges in demand and price appreciation along with rapidly evolving consumer behavior, many have been asking when and how will it all end? Will the housing market crash?

According to former California Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young, the worst-case scenario—a thunderous market crash reminiscent of the 2006 housing bubble lurking right around the corner—is something that should not be keeping you up at night.

Speaking at the virtual RISMedia Real Estate CEO & Agent Exchange conference this week, which was co-presented by the National Association of REALTORS®, Appleton-Young made a strong, data-driven case that despite the hand-wringing of many observers and pundits, fundamental metrics simply do not point toward any kind of looming implosion or rapid contraction even as real estate has become the “It Girl” of the broader economy.

“The housing market has a lot of challenges. We need construction, we need to build more affordable housing,” she said. “There’s lots of issues, but in terms of looking for a crash in the foreseeable future, as for right now, I just don’t see it.”

In her aptly named talk “The Next Housing Crash: Fact or Fiction,” the numbers point decidedly toward fiction, Appleton-Young showed.

Compared to the 2006-2008 housing bubble burst ahead of the Great Recession, there are much fewer foreclosures, and far fewer borrowers in foreclosure who do not have enough equity to cover their mortgage.

“A very different situation than we had back then,” she said.

As the market is trending toward “moderation” with an injection of new inventory likely offset by an uptick in mortgage rates, there is little to support sensationalist headlines that have pointed fingers at institutional buyers or worried about low rates overinflating prices, Appleton-Young assured attendees.

That is not to say that the numbers aren’t jaw-dropping, she added. A 9.1% increase in home prices in 2020 followed by a 14.1% jump so far this year, and a huge shortfall in inventory (somewhere between 1 million and 4 million homes depending on the methodology) have really shocked the whole industry, she said.

“We need a lot more housing built, and it’s one of the things that has kept the pressure on this imbalance between demand and supply,” she said.

Also notable—and running against the popular narrative—is housing affordability. Though the spectacular appreciation of homes has certainly priced many people out of the market, home-buying power has actually doubled since 2006, according to one analysis, and tappable home equity has also jumped from under $5 trillion back then to just under $10 trillion today, she said.

“It’s very important for REALTORS® and consumers to do the math and see what this really looks like. Affordability has been getting tighter the last couple of months…but do the analysis, it’s more affordable now,” she said.

While many of these data points are likely to pull back, Appleton-Young said other changes in the market are here to stay, driven mostly by consumer behavior. Institutional investors—who still make up a relatively insignificant percentage of the overall market—may continue to increase their footprint, she posited, after growing 4% in the first quarter of this year.

“The percentage changes are notable,” she said. “It’s probably an important issue to track going forward—there’s a lot of money pouring into real estate—but it’s not the root cause in any way, shape or form of what’s happening now.”

Longer tenure by baby boomers, who are more likely to age in place and pass on their homes to their children than previous generations, likely means that a three-month inventory supply will become the norm in a balanced market rather than a six-month supply, according to Appleton-Young.

A lot of these trends predated March of 2020, she pointed out, before the pandemic put the market on a “unique and interesting path.”

But that path, she reiterated, does not appear to be leading toward a crash despite all the head-spinning numbers and growth.

“The only way that I can see us getting from these data points that I’ve just gone through to a crash scenario would be a jobs-led recession that puts a lot of people out of work and unable to pay their mortgages,” she said. “And you just don’t see that in the cards.”

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Stay tuned for additional coverage from RISMedia’s Real Estate CEO & Agent Exchange.

Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com.

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Home Flipping Activity Rises, But Profits Are Down

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 12:02

Profits for home flips are down even as activity rises, according to ATTOM Data’s second-quarter 2021 U.S. Home Flipping Report. ATTOM found that 79,733 single-family homes and condos in the U.S. were flipped in the second quarter—4.9% of all home sales in Q2 and the first increase in over a year.

The nationwide flipping rate increased from 3.5%, or one in every 29 home sales in the U.S., in Q2 during the first quarter. But it was still down from 6.8% YoY—below most levels reported throughout the last decade.

As the flipping rate increased, profit margins dipped to a 10-year low.

Home Flipping Rates and Returns:

– Overall, rates are up in almost 80% of local markets, with the largest in Savannah, Georgia (flips comprised 9.5% of all home sales); Fort Wayne, Indiana (9.3%); Canton, Ohio (9%); Ogden, Utah (8.9%) and Indianapolis, Indiana (8.9%).

– The smallest home-flipping rates were in San Jose, California (1.8%); Rochester, New York (1.9%); Albany, New York (2.1%); Bakersfield, California (2.1%) and Wilmington, North Carolina (2.2%).

– The median $267,000 resale price of homes flipped nationwide resulted in a gross flipping profit of $67,000, above the median investor purchase price of $200,000. That generated a 33.5% profit margin or ROI.

Profits and Losses, Regional Spotlights:

– The West, Northeast and South saw the highest raw profits on median-priced home flips

– The top 25 metro areas were San Jose, California (typical gross profit of $242,500), Fargo, North Dakota ($200,336); San Francisco, California ($182,000); Salisbury, Maryland ($159,500) and Barnstable, Massachusetts ($155,500).

– The smallest raw profits were in Gulfport, Mississippi ($12,938 loss); Corpus Christi, Texas ($1,800 profit); College Station, Texas ($2,779 profit); Longview, Texas ($14,291 profit) and Amarillo, Texas ($16,514 profit).

– Only 58 counties have a home-flipping rate of at least 10%, with the top being Truesdale County, Tennessee (22%); Lewis County (Hohenwald), Tennessee (20%); Jefferson County, Georgia (18.2%); Chester County, Tennessee (15.5%) and Morgan County, Tennessee (15.4%).

“Home flipping rebounded during the second quarter. But profits sure didn’t, as the typical home flip around the country netted the smallest return on investment in a decade,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM, in a statement. “However, it’s not like home flipping has become a losing proposition. A 33% profit on a short-term investment remained pretty decent, even after renovation and holding expenses. But with a few more periods like the second quarter of this year, investors may need to reframe how they look at these deals.”

To read the full report, click here.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to lizd@rismedia.com.

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HUD Makes $180M in Funding Available for Multifamily Owners In Assisted Housing Programs

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 12:00

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Multifamily Housing Programs is opening a new application period for owners of multifamily properties participating in assisted housing programs to apply for more than $180 million in supplemental operating funds to support expenses for protecting residents and staff from COVID-19. Owners of properties participating in HUD’s Section 202 Housing for Low- and Very-Low Income Elderly, Section 811 Housing for Low- and Very-Low Income Persons with Disabilities, and Section 8 Project-based Rental Assistance programs are eligible to receive reimbursements from this pool of funds. The deadline for applications is Nov. 19, 2021.

“The critical funds we are making available will help owners to ensure the health, safety and well-being of residents and staff and make more improvements that can help combat future health emergencies,” said HUD Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Housing Lopa Kolluri in a statement.

“The additional flexibilities in this notice respond to feedback from program participants and build on our own observations of how these resources can best meet the most pressing needs,” said HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing Ethan Handelman in a statement.

To facilitate more robust use of funds, HUD has provided the following flexibilities:

– Extended the timeframe for eligible expenses from four months to seven months. Funds can be used to cover expenses incurred between April 1, 2021, and Oct. 31, 2021

– Expanded eligible reimbursements to include limited types of capital investments made in direct response to COVID-19, such as improvements in ventilation and air filtration in common areas, emergency generators and installation of broadband Wi-Fi infrastructure

– Implemented minimum expected funding levels for each property, so that owners can be certain that reimbursement will occur at no less than established levels

– Streamlined its prioritization schedule for approval of requests for reimbursements that exceed minimum payment amounts.

COVID-19 Supplemental Payments (CSP) help address operating cost increases incurred by owners to prevent, prepare for or respond to COVID-19 at their properties. These payments supplement rental assistance funding. Since September 2020, the Office of Multifamily Housing Programs has disbursed $42.7 million in CSPs to owners.

Source: HUD

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7 Home Maintenance Tips to Tackle This Fall

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 03:03

Fall is just about here, and it’s a great time for homeowners to tackle home maintenance items in and around the house. Doing these tasks will help protect their investment, too!

1. Caulk and seal around exterior door and window frames. Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and seal those as well. Not only does heat escape from these openings, but water can also enter and cause mold problems and even structural damage. Good sealing will also keep out insects, mice and other unwanted critters.

2. Use binoculars to check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Water, wind, ice and snow can cause serious damage to a vulnerable roof, leading to a greater chance of further problems inside the home. If issues are spotted, have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof.

3. Clear gutters of leaves, sticks and other debris. If the gutters can accommodate them, leaf screens can be real time savers and prevent clogging. Check the joints between sections of gutter, as well as between the gutter and downspouts, and make any necessary repairs.

4. In cold-weather climates, drain garden hoses and store them indoors to protect them from the elements. Shut off outdoor faucets and make sure exterior pipes are drained of water. Faucets and pipes can freeze and burst, causing leaks and increasing the potential for water damage.

5. A cozy wood-burning fireplace can be a real pleasure on a chilly fall evening. For safety, have the firebox and chimney professionally inspected and cleaned before use this season. Creosote, a byproduct of wood burning, can build up to dangerous levels and cause a chimney fire that can spread to the rest of the house.

6. Gas fireplaces should be inspected for proper venting and operation. Check glass doors for cracks and don’t use the fireplace if the glass is damaged.

7. Have the furnace inspected to ensure that it’s safe and in good working order. Many utility companies will provide basic, no-cost furnace inspections to their customers, but schedule early as there can be a long waiting list as the weather cools down. Replace disposable furnace air filters or clean the permanent type according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Using a clean filter will help the furnace run more efficiently, saving money and energy.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is committed to ensuring confident home ownership. To learn more about how Pillar To Post Home Inspectors can help your clients, visit
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New ERA® Real Estate Affiliate Adds 400 Agents to the Network

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 03:01

ERA® Real Estate, recently announced that RSVP Real Estate, based in Bellevue, Washington, has affiliated with the ERA® brand. 
 
The firm will now be known as RSVP Real Estate ERA Powered and immediately becomes one of the largest companies in the ERA system with over $1 billion in sales volume in the last 12 months, according to the company.  
 
The family-owned brokerage, which now has more than 400 agents and serves western Washington with a concentration in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, was founded in 2004 by Chief Executive Officer Steve Kloetsch and his son Andy Kloetsch, who serves as chief operating officer. They initially operated as a two-person company before recruiting agents into the business in 2008. 

“We are proud of being a family-owned firm and consider our agents part of the family. By joining ERA, our family now extends across the country and around the world, which is a powerful benefit. As we explored opportunities to drive growth, we were determined to find a partner with a similar culture of treating people right, ERA network’s inclusive and collaborative community really resonated with us,” said Steve Kloetsch, co-founder and CEO of RSVP Real Estate ERA Powered, in a statement. “In addition, the brand’s industry-leading technology, tools and platforms will support our recruiting, retention and production goals and perfectly complement our very hands-on, always-on agent support that is a hallmark of our company. We’ve continued to have great success since we founded our company and realize that in order to continue to grow strategically and profitably, we needed a collaborative partner that would help us build our capabilities, increase our learning and more.”

“When we started our business in 2004, we were very deliberate and measured in growing the company. We realized that we could do things differently and succeed in one of the most competitive real estate markets in the nation by putting the needs of our affiliated agents first,” said Andy Kloetsch, co-founder and COO of RSVP Real Estate ERA Powered, in a statement. “Today marks another deliberate and measured decision that will support our continued growth by arming our team with tools and training that align with today’s connected consumer. At the end of the day, we will always be focused on growth opportunities that will truly benefit our agents.”

RSVP Real Estate has been recognized for consistent growth by the Puget Sound Business Journal in its Top 50 Eastside Fastest Growing Private Company rankings and the Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies in the state.

“For more than 15 years, Steve and Andy have worked diligently to grow their business into a powerhouse real estate company. Not only do they possess a deep knowledge of the industry, but they are also deeply committed to the professional development and growth of their affiliated agents,” said Sherry Chris, president and CEO of ERA Real Estate, in a statement. “As an ERA Powered company, they can implement ERA’s services, products and enhancements best suited for their agents to help them grow their business their way. The ERA Powered model works tremendously for anchor companies like RSVP Real Estate as they are able to continue with their successful operations and branding, and are now fully supported by the growth, lead generation, business consulting and marketing support that comes along with an ERA partnership.”
   
We’ve always had a deep appreciation for how technology can positively impact people’s lives and that is especially true when it comes to our agents, as they create and sustain relationships with clients,” said Kadey Kloetsch, chief technology officer, RSVP Real Estate ERA Powered, in a statement. “As an ERA Powered company, we’re excited to be able to offer our agents access to a turnkey, comprehensive and innovative technology solution that we could not efficiently offer as an independent firm. Instead of spending time researching, vetting and implementing new technology, we can focus our efforts on richer, face-to-face interactions with our agents to better refine our offerings and provide more personalized technology support to help enhance their relationships with clients and prospects.”

For more information, please visit www.era.com.

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Regional Spotlight: California Housing Market Demand Softening

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 03:00

Demand in the California housing market tempered for the fourth consecutive month in August as home sales returned to pre-crisis levels, but the statewide median home price set another record high, the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 414,860 in August, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide annualized sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2021 if sales maintained the August pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

August’s sales pace was down 3.3% on a monthly basis from 428,980 in July and down 10.9% from a year ago, when 465,400 homes were sold on an annualized basis. August’s sales level was the lowest in 14 months. Despite the monthly and annual sales drop, California home sales remained strong by pre-pandemic standards, maintaining a solid year-to-date increase of 21.3%.

“The normalizing market and modestly improving housing inventory in the past few months have created an opportunity for homebuyers who sat out the highly competitive housing market seen over much of the past year,” said C.A.R. President Dave Walsh in a statement. “With the highest level of active listings in nearly a year, interest rates expected to stay consistently low, and a dip in multiple offers, now is a good time for discouraged buyers to get back into the game.”

After taking a breather in July, California’s median home price set a new record in August at $827,940—the fifth record set in six months. The August price was 2.1% higher than the $811,170 recorded in July and 17.1% higher than the $706,900 recorded last August. The median price in California remained above the $800,000 benchmark for the fifth consecutive month.

“While home sales at the lower end of the market are underperforming due to a lack of supply and the economic uncertainty induced by the COVID resurgence, the higher-priced segments continue to see double-digit sales growth that’s keeping the overall market from moderating too fast,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine in a statement. “With interest rates expected to stay low for the rest of the year, sales in California will remain solid by pre-pandemic standards while price growth will likely ease further in the coming months.”

To view the full report, click here.

Source: C.A.R.

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Affordable Housing Is Expanding: What to Know About It

Thu, 09/16/2021 - 12:04

Affordable or subsidized housing has been, and will remain, a complex and emotional issue, steeped in history, economics, race and politics. Many people worry about crime, crowding or other problems allegedly created by these projects. Though experts largely agree that an ongoing lack of affordable housing has created a crisis and there will need to be significant investments in building more, the how, where and to what degree remains hotly debated.

As many states have already begun funneling money and resources toward affordable housing and federal legislators propose a broader expansion funding for low- and moderate-income housing developments, homebuyers are likely to hear more and more about the issue, and will likely begin to see these projects appear in their area. Though likely no one has the answers right now to all these questions, what real estate agents can do is what they always do: answer questions and provide clients with the best possible information.

What is ‘affordable housing?’ 

This might seem like the easiest question to answer. But even just defining “affordable” or “subsidized” housing can be a challenge, with a multitude of ways to delineate it and plenty of gray areas.

Michael Wilt works for the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation (TSAHC), a non-profit that funds and advocates for affordable homeownership and rentals around the state. He says the best place to start is with what affordable housing isn’t rather than what it is.

“The affordable housing today is not your parent’s [affordable housing],” Wilt says. “It’s not the Section 8 developments that were built and financed largely by the government—these monolithic structures that took up entire city blocks, and everybody was there with a Section 8 housing voucher.”

Since the mid-1980s, the vast majority of new or rehabilitated affordable housing has been created through a program called the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, or LIHTC. Rather than directly funding or offering contracts for subsidized housing, the IRS instead uses tax offsets that encourage private investors to fund these projects, with oversight usually running through local or state housing authorities.

What this means, Wilt says, is that affordable and subsidized housing units cost the same to build and often look identical to market-rate housing—something agents should emphasize to clients, as many people still picture these projects as space-sucking eyesores made of cheap concrete.

“The finishes, the construction, the materials, the outside of the building—everything is going to look almost exactly like a market rate apartment complex,” he says.

Rent reductions are possible because of those federal tax credits, Wilt says, and often additional resources are dedicated to managing and maintaining the properties after they are built.

Jamie Ross is president and CEO of the Florida Housing Coalition, another non-profit focused on affordable living. In her state, Habitat For Humanity often builds for-sale homes for lower-income families—something that many imagine will cause problems in the neighborhood.

Ross says that Habitat homes might be “minimalist” in some ways and often are built in “depressed” areas. But in the long term, they are actually a good sign for a prospective homebuyer that a neighborhood or community is growing positively.

“The truth is, the data shows us that Habitat homes increase the value of a neighborhood…that maybe has a lot of homes that are landlord-owned and not homeowner-owned,” she says. “So, when Habitat homes come in, they uplift the neighborhood.”

What an “affordable” or “subsidized” designation means also varies widely, according to Warren Berzack, a broker focused on multifamily housing working for Lee & Associates in Los Angeles. Developers often receive incentives to add just a few affordable units to a larger complex or project that is mostly market rate. Other living spaces are restricted for certain demographics— disabled folks, domestic violence victims transitioning from shelters or the elderly.

It is important that homebuyers understand that not every affordable housing development is the same. Talking to someone from the local housing authority is a good way to find out more details about any given project, Wilts says.

Who lives in affordable housing?

One of the big questions or fears that many people have about affordable housing is who lives there. Often the worry is that a subsidized housing complex will be rife with criminals or unemployed people who will end up nuisances to the neighborhood.

The vast majority of affordable or income-restricted housing requires extensive credit and background checks, according to Wilt, disallowing people who have criminal histories that are violent or involve children in any way from living there.

According to Berzack, who says he has been involved with dozens of different types of affordable units in different areas, there is no single stereotype that can encompass people who need affordable housing.

Generally, these are folks who are “on their way up” after getting out of tough situations—single parents recovering from domestic violence situations, disabled people working to live independently and many who have lost jobs.

“It’s a lot of single mothers, it’s a lot of people coming out of homlessness—it’s not a gangbanger who is like, fully face-tattooed getting free housing. That’s not typically who is getting help,” Berzack says.

There are some subsidized housing complexes that are targeted toward “the most vulnerable citizens,” Wilt says, with more lax tenant screening standards. These projects are much more highly structured, with 24-hour onsite management and other security measures. Tenants are also given access to social workers and other services, according to Wilt.

Wilt says he “understands” the neighbors would have concerns about these projects, sometimes called “permanent supportive housing.” Usually, stakeholders are all very aware of any potential issues stemming from these areas, he adds, and want to work with community members to resolve issues.

These projects are also much cheaper and better for the community overall than the alternative—either a homeless shelter or leaving people to fend for themselves on the street, according to Wilt.

But the kind of affordable housing that is being built right now is more often targeted at younger, working-class people who work in schools or the service industry, according to Wilt, and is referred to as “workforce housing.”

As the pandemic has demonstrated, these jobs are incredibly important and having those workers in a community is vital. Wilt described a planned community that TSAHC was involved with that placed workforce rentals, million-dollar homes, and a retail and entertainment mall in the same neighborhood.

The idea was a huge success, he says, as the working-class folks had a plethora of jobs within walking distance while the high-income earners had easy access to shopping and other leisure activities.

“So, it’s a really good mix,” Wilt says.

Speaking to clients, real estate professionals should certainly start with the idea that subsidized housing occupants are no different from anyone else.

What are issues with affordable housing?

Being honest with prospective homebuyers will certainly require real estate professionals to talk about some of the negative things that affordable housing brings to a neighborhood. This includes things like crowding and parking, which Berzack says are often the first issues raised when he is proposing denser housing projects.

Wilt and Ross both acknowledge that with more people living in an area, there will be more cars on the road and more activity in the neighborhood. That is true of any housing, though, Ross says, and people living in subsidized housing actually contribute less crowding per capita compared to others, as they are more likely to carpool or use public transit.

Increased school enrollment or overcrowding of schools, and potentially increased taxes if new schools are needed, are other concerns. Wilt says it is certainly something to keep in mind, and that sometimes districts do have to fund new school buildings to accommodate an influx of new students, thereby raising taxes.

But both Ross and Wilt point out that without affordable housing school districts cannot function, as many of their workers—from teachers to bus drivers—cannot afford market-rate real estate nearby.

“Schools need teachers, and teachers don’t get paid well,” Ross says. “Plus you have teacher’s aids, you have bus drivers, you have janitors—a lot of people are needed to run a school.”

A myth that many people bring up is that affordable housing will bring neighboring property values down—something Wilt says has not been borne out by data. He cited a 2016 study by Trulia that found no statistically significant effect on property values when affordable housing was built nearby.

Berzack says that in his professional experience, affordable housing often indirectly brings up neighboring property values because new housing and new people almost always bring in businesses and other investments.

“Construction, no matter what it is, breeds more construction and more redevelopment. Old stuff gets torn down and new stuff—better, higher density—fills that need,” he says.

Ross says that, in her experience, people who balk at buying a home or living near subsidized housing often have had negative encounters with poorly-run projects or apartments. Real estate professionals in Florida have begun to refer to subsidized homes and apartments as “attainable housing” in order to bypass the stigma, according to Ross, with the aim of helping people understand that it is an overall positive thing for nearly every community.

“We have people who come…and they’re like, ‘I don’t want public housing.’ And they’re thinking about what they had at home, and that really just doesn’t exist here,” she says. “The fact is, if you don’t have affordable housing in your community, you won’t have restaurants. You won’t have schools. You won’t have any of the things you need to make your life pleasant [and] liveable.”

Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com.

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