Washington REALTORS® 2020 Legislative Day Recap

Almost 500 REALTORS® and Affiliates showed up for the WR Legislative Day event on January 22-23rd in Olympia. The sheer number of REALTORS® who came from all over our state to represent members and property owners is a statement to our Legislators in itself!

REALTORS® met with Legislators throughout the afternoon to discuss Washington REALTOR® priorities, including the following:

  • EXPAND LOCAL HOUSING SUPPLY EFFORTS Last session, the Legislature passed HB 1923 that incentivized cities to adopt regulations and plans to increase housing supply and affordability. This bill was part of REALTORS® Unlock the Door housing supply campaign, and now over 50 cities are implementing the law. In 2020, will expand this program by extending the deadlines for local governments, including additional types of housing ordinances, and increase the number of cities that are eligible to participate. A range of aggressive and sustained action on housing supply is needed from addressing homelessness and low-income affordability, to stopping the alarming trend of decreased of homeownership.
  • EXTEND MULTI-FAMILY TAX EXEMPTION The state’s Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) has been successful in helping create thousands of new units of privately-owned affordable housing. This program has been central to urban redevelopment and housing supply efforts in both small and large cities. These bills extend the authorization for the MFTE and provide additional flexibility so the use of the MFTE can be tailored to meet the variety of needs at the local level.
  • PROTECT REALTORS® INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR & AGENCY LAW PROVISIONS Recently, the Legislature passed bills clarifying independent contractor status for real estate brokers and reaffirmed the state’s real estate agency laws; to include the statutory duties of brokers and dual agency requirements. Despite this, conflicting employment legislation has been proposed that would negatively impact the real estate industry by altering the status of real estate brokers as independent contractors and real estate agency laws. The unique structure of the real estate industry should be acknowledged and protected in future employment legislation.

Aging at Home: Where Seniors Really Want to Live

Despite the allure of senior communities that offer a surfeit of amenities, such as pools, gyms, coffee bars, and cooking classes, most older adults—76 percent of Americans age 50 and older—want to remain in a home throughout their golden years, according to an AARP survey.

Often, when older adults do move, it’s for reasons other than the desire to live in a 55-plus community, such as high real estate taxes, ongoing maintenance tasks and costs, the absence of an accessible first-floor bedroom and bathroom, or a neighborhood that makes them too dependent on cars to get around.

Helping clients who want to purchase or update a home where they can age in place is a growing niche in real estate and ancillary industries. Agents and brokers who are Senior Real Estate Specialists (SRES) or Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) can help this cohort find homes or stay put and modify their homes to address physical or cognitive impairments.

Read the article on REALTOR® Magazine

Washington REALTORS® 2019 Legislative Day Recap

Over the course of over 140 different scheduled meetings with Legislators on Thursday, January 24, REALTORS® received encouraging and positive response from our Legislators to the following Legislative Priorities:

  • Reforming Condominium Liability Laws
  • Increasing Urban & Suburban Housing Supply in Urban Growth Areas
  • Aligning the Short Subdivision Process with Ecology’s SEPA Regulations
  • Supporting the Housing Trust Fund for HomeownershipState Funding Support for Housing, Homelessness & Infrastructure
  • Expanding the Multi-family Tax Exemption Program
  • REET & Lodging tax—Local Funding Tools for Housing & Homelessness
  • Read more details about Washington REALTORS®’ Legislative Priorities.

All of our Legislative Priorities are part of the Unlock the Door for Affordable Homeownership initiative. Partnered with other non-profit and for-profit entities, Washington REALTORS® will continue to work with our Legislators and lead the way to help create affordable homeownership opportunities for all.

REALTORS join forces to make housing a top legislative priority in WA

With the Washington state Legislature scheduled to start its 2019 session on January 14 and Realtor Hill Day slated for January 24, Realtors and other real estate-related organizations will be coalescing around the housing crisis and strategies for improving supply and affordability.

Among legislative priorities are:

  • Condominium liability reform, specifically, language that would 1) prohibit individual HOA officers/board members from being sued; 2) modify statutory “implied warranties” that condo buyers receive from builders; and 3) require purchasers who sue to establish a “performance” defect.
  • GMA reform, including a requirement for cities to enact minimum densities in urban areas, thereby making more efficient use of available urban lands designated for jobs and housing.
  • Housing Trust Fund legislation that may be proposed to allow use of a portion of the monies for building owner-occupied housing in addition to publicly-owned housing.
  • Other budget and financial issues affecting tax collections; education funding subsequent to the 2017 “McCleary Fix;” expenses resulting from compliance with the “Culverts case” that required the state to improve fish passage on almost all culverts under state roadways; B&O and REET related proposals to increase those taxes; and a new capital gains tax (depending on the final number of Democrats in the State Senate).

To help focus attention on the housing crisis and its “real world impacts,” a coalition of nonprofit organizations, builders, Realtors and others joined forces to launch a multi-media campaign.

Using the theme “Unlock the Door,” the campaign invites members of the public and Realtor members to share stories on how the housing affordability crisis has affected them, and their family, friends, and clients.

The effort, now underway, is in response to the struggle families across the state and in all income groups are facing in their search for homeownership opportunities. Organizers cite research from the Rundstad Department of Real Estate at the University of Washington which indicates  first-time buyers in King, Kittitas, Pierce and Snohomish counties face home prices that area nearly double what they can afford.

The campaign’s primary focus is on affordable home ownership opportunities, but it will also contain elements related to homelessness and low income housing.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Gilbert-Smith, volunteer member of Seattle King County REALTORS and Tacoma-Pierce County Association of REALTORS Government and Public Affairs Committees

3 Tips for the Ultimate Staycation

The temperature is warming up, the kids are finishing school and plans for what’s next this summer are being made. Are you dreaming of unplugging from work and other responsibilities and, at the same time, looking to save up to make your next home purchase? You can do it all with a well-planned staycation that allows you to relax, recharge and enjoy some down time in the comfort of your own home. Here are three tips to get you started.

  1. Determine Your Staycation Style

Would you prefer to stay in all week, or get out and about and rediscover your hometown? Like you would do with a destination vacation, make a list of things you want to do, eat and see. This is the time to explore the new museum exhibit, hike the trail you have been meaning to check out or binge watch your favorite TV show.

  1. Prep like you are leaving town

The best part of a vacation is getting away from the day-to-day tasks of everyday life. Do yourself a favor and run errands and complete chores the week before your staycation. Do the laundry, fill the car with gas and clean the house (or, better yet, have it professionally cleaned). This way you can really settle in during your week at home without worrying about the clean clothes that need to be put away or the rug that needs to be vacuumed.

  1. Splurge A Little

One reason you chose to vacation at home is to save money, but that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge a little on small luxuries. Stock the refrigerator with items for awesome homemade meals or budget for eating out at restaurants when the mood strikes. Even a nice bottle of wine or high quality bubble bath can make you feel luxurious and relaxed without breaking the bank.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – What it Means for Homeowners and Real Estate Professionals

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) worked throughout the tax reform process to preserve the existing tax benefits of homeownership and real estate investment, as well to ensure as many real estate professionals as possible would benefit from proposed tax cuts. Many of the changes reflected in the final bill were the result of the engagement of NAR and its members, not only in the last three months, but over several years.

While NAR remains concerned that the overall structure of the final bill diminishes the tax benefits of homeownership and will cause adverse impacts in some markets, the advocacy of NAR members, as well as consumers, helped NAR to gain some important improvements throughout the legislative process. The final legislation will benefit many homeowners, homebuyers, real estate investors, and NAR members as a result.

Read the National Association of Realtors article…

Tax Benefits of Owning a Home: Do You Know Them All?

The joys of homeownership are many: Your own house is a place to make sweet memories, build a financial nest egg, and whittle down your tax bill. Wait, what? Yep, it’s true: Your home can save you a bundle on April 15.

Realtor.com rounded up every last way to take advantage of the tax benefits of owning a home. Read on for the full rundown just to make sure you aren’t missing any, then pat yourself on the back for all the moolah you’ll save!