Member Portal on the LAR Webiste!
by Robin Lang, LAR Membership Services
A new menu item has been added to the LAR Website and it can be used by both REALTORS® and Affiliates! To find the Member Portal, look to the far right of the menu above and select Portal. You will see a new menu of items available without logging in, including Classes & Events, Directories, Store, Dues Payment Instructions (during the Dues Payment time of yeaer), and Login.
Classes & Events
You can view and register for most classes from here. Classes are viewable even by non-members, and non-members can register and then sign-up for CE Credit classes. If you want to sign-up for a class, you must login. Rookie Sessions and Lunch & Learns are for LAR Members only.
This is one of the most exciting additions! Searchable Directories! We worked with the software company we use for our database to create an online directory, specifically to search for Affiliate Members by business type. If you select Affiliate Search (and then wait a moment for the data to load), you can now search for Affiliates based on Business Type. We populated this the best we could, but if you have suggestions, please let us know! There is also a REALTOR® Search available. These searches are open to everyone, no need to login.
The Store is essentially a different view of Classes & Events, however it does allow you to contribute to RPAC or LAEC at any time during the year.
Dues Payment Instructions
View these instructions if you need help paying your dues this year.
This is where you login for additional features! Login instructions have been included in the Dues Payment instructions. If you need help with your password, please email or call Robin in the LAR Office.
My CE Credit
REALTORS® can look at their recorded CE Credit. Email your scanned Certificates to Robin and she will enter them into the database and file them in your file.
This is a list of Classes you have signed up for.
This is where you pay your dues.
Government Affairs Update
Barbara Koelzer, Regional Government Affairs Director
Council Commits to Windy Gap: After a long discussion, the City Council agreed to move forward with its participation in the Windy Gap Firming Project. Joan Peck and Polly Christensen voted against the motion, saying they wanted a lower level of participation than the 10,000 acre-feet level advised by the Water Board. The Longmont Association of Realtors’ Board of Directors communicated its support for the Water Board’s recommendation.
Water discussions are always about growth, whether that is explicitly stated or not. As Gabe Santos said, this decision will protect Longmont’s future growth by ensuring an adequate water supply. Nine cities are involved in the project, including Greeley and Loveland, as well as two water districts and the Platte River Power Authority.
Comp Plan Close to Completion: Envision Longmont, the latest version of the City’s long-range plan, is nearly finished. An open house is scheduled for Wednesday, March 30, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the Longmont Public Library for public comment. The Longmont Association of REALTORS will review and comment on the draft.
While many concepts included in Envision Longmont are laudable, it seems like the voice of the business community is absent. In a summary of comments to date, “prioritizing bikes and pedestrians” and “incorporating food access and address agriculture more directly” are highlighted, illustrating the need for groups such as the REALTORS to weigh in with a more common sense approach.
Council Adopts Construction Defects Ordinance: With little discussion, the Fort Collins City Council adopted its construction defects ordinance on second reading. As before, Ross Cunniff and Bob Overbeck voted against it, saying they support the need for more multi-family housing but not the ordinance.
Construction Defects Ordinance Passes: The Loveland City Council also approved a construction defects ordinance on March 15. Mayor Cecil Gutierrez was the sole vote against the ordinance. He repeated the same rationale he articulated during first reading of the ordinance, saying Loveland was opening itself to a lawsuit by infringing on the State’s authority. Mark Koentopp spoke on behalf of LBAR, thanking the Council for its leadership on the issue.
COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Legislative Update: The Home Ownership Alliance, of which CAR is a member, continues working on its construction defect legislation. The bill sponsors are still considering various approaches and the Alliance isn’t ready to introduce its bill.
HB 1310 “Oil and Gas Operators Liable for Oil and Gas Operations” LPC Position – neutral. This badly worded bill makes energy operators liable for earthquakes and such without proof. It also amends statute to make operators liable for damage to a surface owner’s property. As defenders of property rights, CAR could not go on the record opposing the bill.
HB 1334 “Inclusionary Zoning in Unincorporated Areas” LPC Position – Oppose. This bill would give county commissioners the ability to impose inclusionary zoning in rural areas. Inclusionary zoning is defined as a program that requires a given share of housing units in a proposed development to be “priced in a way that is affordable for low and moderate income households.”
Flood Advocate Reports to Congress: On March 17, 2016, the Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate issued its first annual report identifying the first set of issues to be addressed in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Among the challenges are lack of data, barriers to claims, application of surcharges, multi-year refunds, and flood proofing paperwork.
Championed by NAR as part of the Flood Insurance Affordability Act, this independent office within FEMA advocates on behalf of property owners when the NFIP issues questionable flood maps or insurance rates. The advocacy office has been established for less than a year and is still not fully staffed; yet already, the office has assisted hundreds of property owners and successfully resolved at least a dozen disputes between policyholders and FEMA or partnering insurance companies.
NAR recently sent a letter to Congress supporting the mission of the NFIP advocacy office and urged full funding for the office to assist additional property owners. NAR will continue to work to provide adequate resources for a true advocate for homeowners.
Senate Tackles Patent Reform: Last week Senators Gardner (R-CO), Flake (R-AZ), and Lee (R-UT) introduced S. 2733 a bill that would address the issue of venue reform in patent litigation cases. Last year, nearly half of all new patent infringement cases filed in the United States were filed in one judicial district. The high volume of cases filed in this district is not a coincidence. Patent Assertion Entities, otherwise known as patent trolls, take advantage of broad interpretations of current law that allow them to file their lawsuits where local rules and practices, along with physical distance, make it very expensive for companies to defend themselves. NAR supports venue reform along with a comprehensive set of patent litigation reforms aimed at curbing patent troll abuses.
Council Sends Message Re Historic Preservation: The City of Boulder is serious about its historic preservation regulations. This week the City Council ordered a homeowner in the Mapleton Hill area to rebuild a “historic” shed located in the backyard.
The owner had removed the old coal shed and added a deck, retailing wall, fire pit and basketball court without requesting permission from the City. The Landmarks Board was given the case after a neighbor turned the owner in but decided that reconstructing the shed did not make up for what had been lost.
However the City Council decided to “call up” the case because it felt that it would send the wrong message were the City to decide the shed did not need to be replaced. Neighbors testified in support of the owner saying the basketball court was a neighborhood amenity but that did not sway the Council. All the items added by the owner – including the fire pit and basketball court, will have to be removed. In addition, the owner will have to build a new shed with the same footprint and style as the old one.
Note: This may be an extreme case, but clients interested in homes with historic designations should be educated regarding the regulations governing such properties. Historic preservation ordinances vary from city to city and to ignore the rules could be a very costly mistake.
City, LAEC Partner to Advance Longmont: At a recent LAEC breakfast, the economic development organization and the City unveiled a new plan to expand business opportunities in Longmont. Advance Longmont will focus on
marketing, real estate inventory, redevelopment and putting resources in play to bolster entrepreneurship and startups.
The plan was devised from the results of a study and analysis conducted by Avalanche Consulting of Austin, Texas. Organizers also hired a site-selection firm to conduct a reverse site selection to help determine what prospective companies are looking for and how they perceive Longmont.
While Longmont has comparatively low utility rates, including water and electric, a highly educated workforce, developable land and a citywide high-speed fiber-optic network nearing completion, it has some challenges that have been building overtime. The study revealed that Longmont has a ‘scattered brand,’ lack of Class A office space and outdated industrial space.
Harold Dominguez, Longmont’s City Manager, reiterated that marketing is a priority. “We aren’t getting our message out to site selectors.” Dominguez said a system has been put in place to monitor progress and measure the effectiveness of efforts made through Advance Longmont.
The consultants recommended four target industries: advanced technology, biosciences, creative arts & culinary and professional services and technology. Read the plan created by Avalanche Consulting here: http://www.longmont.org/Longmont/media/Longmont/PDF%20Files/Advance-Longmont-Final.pdf
Note: The Longmont Association of REALTORS will be closely involved in the real estate-related aspects of the plan as it moves forward.
City to Receive Additional Flood Grants from State: The City Council approved agreements with the State to provide additional grants to residents affected by last year’s floods using Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CBDG-DR). One of the programs assists homeowners with home repairs and offers reimbursement for expenses already incurred (provided homeowners can document those expenses). Funds from this program can also be used to replace homes in cases where it would cost more than 50 percent of the pre-flood value to repair and thus will be helpful for residents of mobile home communities.
The Temporary Rental Assistance program will allow the City to temporarily relocate people whose homes will be repaired, if needed. It will also help the City work with families/individuals who were displaced from their homes by the flood and who still have not found a permanent housing solution and/or who are paying more than 30 percent of their income for rent in these temporary situations.
Finally, Longmont will administer a Down Payment Assistance Program that will provide help for residents throughout the County. The program requires that beneficiaries purchase homes in Boulder County. More information about these programs is available here: http://www.longmontcolorado.gov/departments/departments-n-z/public-information/flood-information/help-and-assistance/flood-assistance-housing-programs
Town Faces Policy Decision re Replacement Housing: The Lyons Board of Trustees announced a plan last month to build 60 housing units for residents whose homes were destroyed by the flood. Now the Trustees are up against a December deadline for grant proposals but are getting flak from residents.
Trustees are discussing three sites for the new units, including the 29-acre Bohn Park, the 10-acre Lyons Dog Park and a private property east of Lyons Valley Park. Anyone familiar with Lyons knows the town is constrained by geography and size, with few building sites. The Board feels these three locations are the most feasible given the time and financial constraints of the project.
But some Lyons residents are not willing to give up public land for replacement housing. A group calling itself “Save Our Parks and Open Space” (SOPOS) opposes the use of parks and open space for new housing. The question is, if not one of these properties, then where? Using either park would require approval from other entities; such land use reclassification is possible albeit difficult.
However SOPOS is not waiting to see what happens. The group submitted a petition with 193 signatures asking Lyons to allow citizens to vote on zoning changes or permitting of parks and open space even on leased portions of Bohn Park and the dog park.
The Town will now conduct a site analysis on the locations to identify the cost of building on each parcel. This analysis won’t be finished until Nov. 20, leaving the Town less than a month to choose a location and develop a design before the application deadline for Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery in mid-December.
The trustees say they will pick a site and apply for a grant contingent upon voter approval of their plans. Note: The flood of 2013 hit Lyons particularly hard. Many lower and middle class residents are still in temporary housing. One wonders if members of SOPOS would have the same position if their homes had been destroyed in the flood. The catastrophic nature of the flood requires flexibility and should generate empathy but those qualities appear to be in short supply.
Consultants Offer Affordable Housing Recommendations: Economic & Planning Systems (EPS) has released a housing affordability policy study for the City of Fort Collins Social Sustainability Department. EPS says that the problems facing the City are “modest” at this point, noting that households with an income under $25,000 are struggling to find affordable housing.
Ideas suggested by EPS are also relatively minor, including building code changes to allow for “tiny” homes as are under construction in LaPorte, considering regulatory changes to encourage the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), expanding the host permit program that allows one or two additional residents for 10 months at a time, allowing extra occupants in rental programs in specific rental zones, expanding the homebuyer assistance program, fee waivers for affordable housing and possibly developing properties owned in the City’s land bank program. In addition, the consultants recommend a general across the board analysis of policies and regulations and how they affect housing costs.
In terms of long-term strategies, EPS and City staff note that Fort Collins needs to find dedicated funding sources for affordable housing. (Although staff suggested that Longmont is poised to adopt a dedicated tax for this purpose, in reality that was just one recommendation that came out of a workforce housing task force several years ago and none of the recommendations have been adopted yet.) Interestingly, EPS does not recommend an inclusionary zoning program, noting, “the requirements would not carry substantial economic value for the City’s developers.”
On November 25th the Fort Collins City Council is scheduled to hold a work session on housing affordability. The EPS report is available here: http://www.fcgov.com/sustainability/pdf/UpdatedHAPSDraft.pdf
City Slows Impact Fee Review Process: Assistant City Manager Victoria Runkle says that the City will postpone a work session scheduled for October 28th regarding updated impact fees to allow for more discussion. Concerns have risen in particular regarding the transportation, fire and the water and sewer fees. While some of the new methodology would increase the individual fees, staff says the overall cost to build a new single-family home would increase only slightly.
Another meeting has been scheduled with stakeholders on October 28 and the City Council will hold a work session on November 25. At this point staff still anticipates the new methodology and fees will be adopted and become law on March 1, 2015.
3 Local Associations Ask EPA to Withdraw Water Rule: Following a recommendation from NAR, the Greeley, Longmont and Loveland-Berthoud Associations sent letters to the EPA encouraging the agency to withdraw the rule known as the “Waters of the United States”. NAR has been lobbying against the proposal for several years. The rule would broaden the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s abilities to regulate water under the Clean Water Act by placing more water bodies under their authority. This would result in more time consuming and expensive permits, regulatory red tape, and less economic development in communities across the country.
“Changing the scope of federal law is solely the responsibility of Congress, and over the past several Congresses, the legislative branch has repeatedly determined not to expand federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. However, finalization of the proposed rule would allow the Administration to bypass the legislative process in order to achieve its agenda,” according to NAR’s position. The U.S. Small Business Administration, a federal agency responsible for protecting the interests of small businesses, has also asked the Administration to withdraw the rule, saying it would have direct and significant effects on small businesses.
DORA Recommends Licensing of Home Inspectors: After a sunrise review this year, the Department of Regulatory Agencies has concluded that home inspectors, like other professionals involved in real estate transactions, should be licensed. The report included examples of consumers harmed by the conduct of home inspectors in the past, some of whom engaged in criminal activities in the course of conducting inspections. The report concludes, “In sum, the evidence of harm identified during the course of research for this sunrise review demonstrates financial, emotional and physical harm to consumers in Colorado.”
DORA suggests that inspectors should also be required to pass an examination and a fingerprint-based criminal history background check. A seven-member home inspector board could provide regulatory oversight of home inspectors and home inspector licensees should be required to complete continuing education.
COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
CAR Will Become Stakeholder in Home Inspector Legislation: The Legislative Policy Committee determined that CAR should be a stakeholder in the effort to license home inspectors but not the primary group pushing for the measure. According to CAR President David Barber, Senator Nancy Spence has already agreed to sponsor the bill; now a House sponsor will be sought.
In the upcoming 2015 session, the sponsors will introduce a bill that will require the licensure of home inspectors, using the regulatory scheme suggested by DORA (see above). At this time it’s unknown which state agency would be responsible for regulating inspectors. It is also unknown how licensing would affect the cost of inspections. If regulation increases the number of inspectors the cost could decrease; however, if it results in few inspectors the price could increase. Mr. Barbour believes that the lengthy process will provide plenty of time to roll out the regulatory framework if the bill passes.
CAR Joins Homeownership Opportunity Alliance (HOA): CAR Vice President for Public Policy Ted Leighty will join the executive committee of HOA, an organization that is advocating for the construction defects legislation to encourage builders to develop more condominiums and townhomes. Earlier this week CAR’s political action committee (CARPAC) approved a $10,000 request, which will allow Leighty to join HOA’s executive committee. A bill supported by HOA and CAR died late in the 2014 legislative session. Senator Jessie Ulibarri (Adams County), has already agreed to sponsor the bill again next year. The recent decision by the City of Lakewood City Council to pass local construction defects legislation (that will no doubt be challenged in court) will help to pressure the legislature to pass the bill in 2015.
CARPAC Donates to Transit Alliance: At its fall business meetings CARPAC approved a $10,000 donation to the Transit Alliance. The Alliance “is an influential public-advocacy organization that works to enhance communities and people’s lives by cultivating a healthy, resilient and more sustainable lifestyle by supporting transit, active transportation and increased mobility.” The Transit Alliance is known for its work supporting the successful passage of RTD’s FasTracks tax in 2004 and its citizens’ academy. Its work has focused on the Denver metro area but the Alliance is poised to begin a rural pilot program this year according to its executive director, Kathleen Osher.
REALTORS Endorse Gaiter
Young and Cooke Endorsed by REALTORS
City Struggles with Affordable Housing: The Boulder City Council was poised to adopt some general goals related to the City’s Comprehensive Housing Strategy (CHS) but even abstract concepts proved controversial in a classic NIMBY (not in my backyard) backlash from citizens. Short-term actions that had been identified as early wins proved more difficult than had been anticipated.
In particular, a goal to “age in place” became a sticking point when an ordinance was introduced that would permit six to ten citizens over 62 to share a home, depending on the zoning of the home. Although staff didn’t predict shared housing would be wildly popular, there was enough outcry from citizens to table the ordinance. One speaker said the concept would “alter the fabric of the neighborhood” and asked “why seniors should receive special treatment.” This was balanced by many who spoke in support of the concept but that wasn’t enough to get the ordinance on to 2nd reading in the near future.
One aspect of the hearing of particular interest to REALTORS relates to the goal of “maintaining the middle (class).” The Council evidently wants to focus on single-family homes as well as multi-family units. One strategy that was mentioned was “protecting the purchase of single-family homes from investors.” Observers say this may be as simple as working with Boulder Housing Partners (BHP) to buy housing stock and out-compete others in the free market.
In the end, after a long discussion the Council approved the goals, allowing the staff to move forward with the public engagement phase of the CHS. Note: Affordable housing is a goal that everyone supports – in theory. The devil, as always, is in the details. Citizens will always oppose efforts that they think will impact their quality of life or their home values.
Affordability is an issue in any town with high demand and low availability. The elected officials of Boulder have implemented a variety of regulations over the years that have restricted growth and increased the cost of construction. The question is, can the City really make an significant impact on affordability in a city that was recently ranked as the most expensive place to live (for a town of its size) in the country? If denser multi-family development isn’t the best approach, than what is?
Council Approves Housing Partners Strategic Plan: At the same meeting the City Council also approved Boulder Housing Partners’ draft Strategy Plan. BHP is the City’s housing authority. BHP asserts the City has “an acute and chronic housing affordability problem.” The Executive Director cited a number of statistics to support that assertion: In the last 12 years, Boulder has lost 5,650 affordable rental units to market inflation; Through its affordable housing programming, Boulder creates only 81 units each year between for sale and for rent. This is a net loss of 400 rental units each year; Today, the market offers 7,700 units and the City’s affordable program has just less than 2100.
Given the situation BHP anticipates “that there’s a window of time in which to preserve affordability,” and therefore proposes to “implement eight strategic initiatives to help Boulder respond to the affordable housing needs in the community…” Perhaps it goes without saying but BHP believes “there is a disconnect between the stated vision for Boulder in the BVCP (Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan) and the direction the market is taking this community.”
BHP’s initiatives include increasing its inventory of housing by 2,000 units over 10 years to help the broader goals of 10 percent affordability and a diverse community. BHP currently produces an average of 50 rental units/year; expanding efforts to include workforce housing opportunities; its geographic focus in two ways, partnering on affordable housing projects that have regional significance and considering income producing assets anywhere in Boulder County.
City Appeals Fracking Ban: On August 26 the Longmont City Council voted unanimously to appeal the ruling of the Boulder District Court Judge D.D. Mallard overturning the fracking ban in Longmont. The decision was made in executive session with little discussion afterwards during the public meeting. The decision surprised observers, who had thought the City would accept the judge’s ruling.
The City Attorney Eugene Mei didn’t provide a long list of reasons to appeal. He listed the possibility that an appeal would extend the ban between two to five years, defending the citizen-approved charter provision and a chance to increase local control as positives. On the other hand, the downsides of appealing the ruling were more convincing. Mei and the legal team hired to defend the City admitted it was an uphill battle to prevail on the merits of the case, saying it could be a “chance to create bad law.” The appeal could involve years of litigation and between $75,000 to $350,000 in legal fees depending on whether the case goes all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court.
The motion to appeal the ruling was made by Bonnie Finley, who said there is “a need for clarity” and urged other municipal governments to join the appeal. (The courts have also overturned Bans in Fort Collins and Lafayette.) Polly Christensen said she agreed with the motion, adding, “Every area of Longmont will be fracked if we don’t do something.” Council member Jeff Moore may have hinted at the Council’s strategy. He said, “This is the first shot in the war. Longmont needs to make a statement and let the (Colorado) legislature do something.” Gabe Santos did not speak during the public hearing but later said the public would have to trust the Council regarding its decision to appeal the ruling.
REALTORS Support Luallin: The Board of Directors of the Longmont Association of REALTORS approved a recommendation from the Government Affairs Committee to support Randy Luallin for Boulder County Commissioner, District 3. Mr. Luallin, a Libertarian, is an advocate for property rights. He believes Boulder County land use regulations are too restrictive, making development expensive. His view that Boulder County has spent too much money on open space and should reallocate some of that money to road and bridge maintenance resonated with the interviewing committee. He may be an extreme long shot for this office but LAR wants to make a statement to the current Board of Commissioners; the association feels the BOCC does not listen to the real estate community. Other candidates for the seat include incumbent Cindy Domenico and Kai Abelkis.
REALTORS Endorse Gaiter: The Fort Collins Board of REALTORS and the Loveland-Berthoud Association of REALTORS are supporting Lew Gaiter for Larimer County Commissioner, District 1. A committee comprised of members from both associations interviewed the three candidates and recommended Gaiter to the boards of both associations.
Although the committee felt CDOT Commissioner and former Loveland Mayor Kathy Gilliland was also a strong candidate, in the end Gaiter’s experience as an incumbent persuaded the committee to recommend him. Gaiter supports REALTOR issues including economic development, private property rights and the need to expand I-25. He believes the county and its municipalities should work together for the benefit of the citizens. (Eric Sutherland is also petitioned his way on the ballot as a write-in candidate.)
Young and Cooke Endorsed by REALTORS: The Colorado Association of REALTORS Political Action Committee has endorsed incumbent Democrat Dave Young for House District 50 and Republican John Cooke for Senate District 13. Both candidates and their opponents were interviewed by a team of REALTORS that made recommendations to CARPAC.
Young is an incumbent with a less than spectacular voting record on REALTOR issues, however he has shown himself to be accessible and willing to discuss our issues. His Republican opponent Isaia Aricayos has not been nearly as active or visible in the community. Cooke is currently serving as Weld County Sheriff and if elected will assume the seat vacated by term-limited Scott Renfroe. He demonstrated his alignment with REALTOR positions during his interview. Other endorsements by CARPAC will be announced soon.
Impact of Revised Affordable Housing Ordinance Unclear: Changes to Denver’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance were approved by the City Council by a 7-6 vote. The law, which was originally passed in 2002, requires that for apartment complexes over 30 units, 10 percent of units must be affordable for those who make 80 percent of area median income, which is about $42,000 annually for an individual. The revisions will not change that percentage however, the cash-in-lieu amount will change and will be tiered depending on the area in which the complex will be built.
The ordinance splits the city up into three types of zones based on the cost and need in the area. For “high” zones, where median for-sale home prices are highest, the cash-in-lieu payment is 70 percent of the sales price. In “medium” areas, the payment will be 50 percent of the sales price; in “low” areas, the payment will be 25 percent of the sales price. But if developers do build affordable units, in return they are given a cash incentive, which also varies under the new law depending the cost in the area surrounding a development.
Under the 2002 ordinance, the incentive was $5,500 per unit. For the “high” zones, this incentive now will be $25,000 per unit, for “medium” zones, $6,500 per unit and for “low” zones, $2,500 per unit — unless the development is located within half a mile of public transit, in which case the incentive is bumped up to $6,500.
However, the new ordinance ignores a key issue — developers are not building large condo projects. CAR was part of a coalition that lobbied to persuade the legislature to pass a bill intended to reduce the risk of construction defect lawsuits, but the leadership ensured that the bill stalled during the waning days of the session. Because of the problems related to possible construction defect lawsuits, developers have opted to build apartment projects and state law prohibits rent control.
Denver faces a shortage of more than 30,000 affordable homes, according to a market analysis performed for the city. In metro Denver, condos make up 2 percent of new residential developments, according to industry estimates. In other cities nationally, it’s closer to 20 percent.
CDOT Has Funding Model for I-70 East but not I-25: The Colorado Department of Transportation has a $1.8 billion plan to lower a few miles of Interstate 70 and add toll lanes to the stretch of highway east of Interstate 25, including the viaduct area around the Denver Stock Show. This is good news for Denver but proponents of expanding I-25 north of Highway 66 were perplexed at the announcement because the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) for the project have not even been released yet.
On the other hand, the final EIS and ROD for I-25 have been in place since 2011 but CDOT says it will take until 2075 to get the funding to do the work. CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt says I-70 is different because of the viaduct. CDOT expects to raise about $1.2 billion to help pay for the project by borrowing from the federal government and repaying the loans using fee money from the Colorado Bridge Enterprise fund. I-25 on the other hand, has multiple bridges and only one that is in the same state of disrepair (the Poudre River bridge).
I-25 Update: At its 2015 Board Retreat the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance focused much of its agenda on transportation. Both Gov. Hickenlooper and CDOT Director Don Hunt attended a portion of the meeting. Gov. Hickenlooper argued it’s time for a new approach about how CDOT thinks about I-25 north of Denver. He said instead of thinking Denver to the north, it’s time to look from Highway 14 (Fort Collins) to the south. (And this is what NCLA advocates through its Fix North I-25 Business Alliance.).He said the focus should be on the most congested areas. (Note: The section of I-25 between Highway14 and US 34 has the highest traffic counts along the stretch of highway that has not been expanded to three lanes.)
Mr. Hunt said Northern Colorado is a concern because no funding plan has come forward regarding use of the $35 million RAMP grant allocated to north I-25. If a plan is not in place by the end of the year NoCo could very well lose this money. In spite of his sense of urgency, no formal plan has been unveiled yet and the I-25 Elected Officials Coalition just cancelled its third monthly meeting in a row.
Public Trust Doctrine Advocates Try Again: Phillip Doe and Barbara Mills-Bria have refilled a proposal that they describe as “basically like Polis’s, except that it has teeth in it” according to the Denver Business Journal. Congressman Polis pulled his proposal as part of an agreement brokered by Gov. Hickenlooper. It was intended to create a constitutional right for Coloradans to clean air, water and scenic vistas.
If Doe and Mills-Bria are successful, the proposal will be on the 2016 ballot. It would amend the state’s constitution to give Coloradans an “inalienable right to clean air, clean water, including ground and surface water, and the preservation of the environment, and natural resources.”
The proposal says the resources are the “common property of all the people,” including future generations, and requires the state, or businesses, to prove that an action or policy won’t harm the environment. The proposal also allows any citizen to sue the state if they believe the environment is being harmed or the state isn’t “prudently” managing Colorado’s resources.
FHA Short Sale Update: The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued Mortgagee Letter 2014-15 allowing dual agency agreements in FHA short sales. Dual agency includes transactions in which two agents are working for the same broker and one agent represents the seller and the other agent represents the buyer. Dual agency also applies to a single agent who represents both the buyer and the seller in a short sale transaction.
Some agents have received information from loan servicers that HUD will only allow a 3 percent commission if there is a dual agency agreement on an FHA short sale. This is not true. HUD has clarified its guidance to servicers that FHA short sales with dual agency agreements are eligible for up to a 6 percent commission if the contract that is submitted meets all current pre-foreclosures sales guidelines, including the required marketing period, and yields the highest net return to HUD.
FHFA’s GSE Plan: On August 15, 2014,The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released a Request for Input on its Strategic Plan for 2015-2019. The plan outlines the direction that FHFA will guide the GSEs while in conservatorship.
Goal 1: Ensure Safe and Sound Regulated Entities. FHFA needs to ensure that it is identifying risks to the GSEs, improving risk management weakness and, most importantly ensuring GSEs are in sound financial condition.
Goal 2: Ensure Liquidity, Stability and Access in Housing Finance. FHFA will require the GSEs, where feasible, to take actions to improve liquidity in the present single-family housing finance market. FHFA also wants to expand access to housing finance for qualified financial institutions of all sizes and in all geographic locations and for qualified borrowers. FHFA proposes pushing the GSEs to meet Housing Goals and will follow up on a previously proposed rule on a duty to serve regulation.
Goal 3: Manage the Enterprises Ongoing Conservatorship. FHFA will continue to pilot programs that shift risk to private market participants and away from the GSEs. FHFA will insist in a process that does not reduce liquidity or adversely impact the availability of mortgage credit. A new platform will bundle mortgages into securities structures and will process and track payments from borrowers through to investors. It will only be GSEs at first then will be open to other MBS issuers.
FHA to Eliminate Post-Payment Interest Changes: On August 26 the FHA issued its final rule to eliminate post-payment interest charges on FHA-insured single family mortgages. NAR has urged FHA and Ginnie Mae to remove this prepayment penalty for years as the policy placed an unreasonable burden on consumers who already face high housing and closing costs. Conventional loans, as well as loans from the Veterans Administration’s Loan Guaranty Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service loan program, do not have post-payment interest charges. The policy change will prohibit mortgagees from charging borrowers interest on their home mortgages after a principal balance pay-off. The final rule will go into effect on January 21, 2015.