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.