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Legislative Information

Current issues and pending real estate legislation

February 2017

Local Issues

Council Passes Measures for Ellicott City, Septic Systems, Accessibility

On February 6, the Howard County Council passed several measures aimed at helping area landowners. They include:

CB6-2017 – Howard County offers a Historic Tax Credit Program to protect property owners from increased assessments resulting from significant renovations, improvements or restorations to historic properties. This bill expands the tax credit to include interior as well as exterior improvements, and to provide a streamlined approval process in the case of renovations due to natural disasters. It is expected that this will further assist properties impacted by flooding in Ellicott City.

CB7-2017 – The Livable Homes Tax Credit was enacted in 2012 to offset the cost of installation of accessibility features in existing owner-occupied residences in Howard County. This bill expands the types of home improvements that qualify for the Livable Homes Tax Credit and increasing the maximum credit available. These improvements now include the installation of railings, level handles, non-slip flooring, and zero-step entry between interior and exterior rooms. It also provides reimbursement to homeowners who engage a certified aging in place specialist to conduct an assessment of accessibility needs on the property.

CR16-2017 – Under its Federal Stormwater Management Permit, Howard County is required to improve its water quality. One of the most cost effective ways for the County to do this is for its residents to regularly pump their septic tanks. To encourage this practice, the County will now provide a $100 credit once every three years to homeowners who regularly pump out their septic tanks using a permitted septic hauler.

DRP Seeks Homeowners for Tick Reduction Study

Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks (DRP) today announced it has begun a study to evaluate integrated tick control strategies on single-family home sites located adjacent to selected large public lands in Howard County. They include: Cedar Lane Park; Centennial Park; Rockburn Branch Park; David Force Natural Resource Area; Middle Patuxent Environmental Area; Blandair Park and the Wincopin Trail of Savage Park.

The study’s goal is to identify the most effective way to control ticks in residential areas and to reduce the overall tick population density in suburban landscape across Howard County and the state. Click here for more information or contact the DRP Natural and Historic Resources Division at 410-313-1679.

State Issues

2017 MAR Lobbying Agenda Announced

The Maryland Association of REALTORS® (MAR) is pursuing several initiatives to benefit the state’s home owners, home buyers and REALTORS®. Their agenda:

  • OPPOSE efforts to mandate Best Available Technology (BAT) septic system installation outside of Maryland’s critical environmental areas, as in HB 281/SB 266. Read more.
  • SUPPORT the creation of tax-deductible first-time homeowners savings accounts, as in HB 230. Read more.
  • SUPPORT grant funding to offset the costs of installing sprinkler systems in residential properties. Read more.
  • SUPPORT granting additional flexibility for agents to discuss nearby properties with open house attendees, with a seller’s consent, as in HB 760. Read more.

The Legislative Committees at both MAR and HCAR are monitoring these and other bills introduced in the 2017 General Assembly session. Check your email for future Calls-to-Action on these issues as the session progresses.

National Issues

NAR Comments on NFIP Reform

In late January, NAR provided official comments to the House Financial Services Committee on the principles guiding reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NAR’s call for enhanced flood mapping, program flexibility and additional private market options are currently under consideration by the Committee. However, NAR requested further clarification on several aspects of the proposal which affect homeowners, including the structure and cost of a new reinsurance mandate and the proposed phase-out of NFIP coverage for high value properties.

The current NFIP authorization expires in September; NAR is seeking a full five-year reauthorization of the program. Click here for additional information.

FHA Mortgage Premium Deduction Caught in Federal Regulatory Freeze

As part of a government-wide freeze on new and pending regulations, the Trump Administration halted a planned decrease in the mortgage premium rates charged to FHA borrowers. The reduction, announced in the final days of the Obama Administration, would have lowered premiums 25 basis points to a level of 0.85 percent beginning on January 27.

NAR had favored the rate reduction, noting that the average FHA borrower would save over $500 per year. NAR has already initiated discussions with newly-confirmed HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson on the issue, beginning with this January 30 letter. For the latest on this and other federal housing news, visit NAR’s Washington Report.