Net Neutrality Rollback Puts Consumers, Main Street Businesses on the Defensive in Digital Era

WASHINGTON (December 14, 2017) – The Federal Communications Commission today announced a rollback of net neutrality rules, sparking a swift rebuke from the nation’s 1.3 million REALTORS®.

“The internet as we know it today is a fair and open platform that puts everyone on a level playing field,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation REALTOR® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “FCC’s rollback of the Open Internet Order will mean higher costs and slower service for millions of American consumers and businesses. REALTORS® have strong concerns about what that might mean for the way consumers search for homes online and real estate is transacted.”

The FCC’s Open Internet Order went into effect in 2015. The rule required that broadband networks remain free of restrictions on content and platforms, while treating all content that flows through the network equally. What that means is internet service providers aren’t allowed to block, throttle or discriminate against internet traffic, such as streaming video or drone photography, among other applications.

Earlier this year, however, the FCC announced that it would reconsider those rules.

REALTORS® raised concerns with formal comments (link is external) to the agency in July that a rollback of net neutrality rules could raise costs on business owners, like real estate professionals, who make heavy use of technology and online platforms. In particular, NAR noted that paid-prioritization models and other anti-competitive practices could put small businesses at a significant disadvantage. For example, NAR said, larger companies could pay for internet fast lanes that deliver content to consumers faster on some websites than from others.

NAR believes consumers would suffer from downgraded services across the internet in such a scenario. At the same time, small businesses that either couldn’t pay the new fee or couldn’t negotiate such an arrangement for themselves would face a significant competitive disadvantage, losing customers to faster websites.

Mendenhall says that the majority of REALTORS® operate small businesses, with typically no more than two principals, and that NAR will fight for its membership on this issue with the hope that net neutrality rules will be reinstated.

“The last thing small businesses need today is additional costs and competitive disadvantages that put them on the defensive,” Mendenhall said. “This isn’t just an issue for Silicon Valley or large telecommunications shops. This is a main street concern that affects businesses and consumers across the country. We intend to make our voice heard on this important issue.”

NAR Green Designation – Get the Expertise You Need

NAR Green Designation – Get the Expertise You Need

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to get your NAR Green Designation in Vermont!

This designation comes as a result of the growing demand for REALTORS® to understand green concerns of clients and implement sustainable practices in their day-to-day business. NAR’s Green Designation is a unique program that provides vital training, support, and information to real estate professionals who are looking to advance their businesses and raise awareness in their community about the cost savings, health benefits, and overall value of homes with green features. NAR’s Green Designation does more than introduce REALTORS® to this important topic, it encourages dialogue amongst industry professionals about the positive change in housing toward smarter, healthier, more sustainable homes and neighborhoods.

NAR’s Green Designation counts as credit toward earning the ABR® designation awarded by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC). A copy of the course completion certificates is required to receive credit towards your ABR® designation.

January 17-18, 2018
8:30am-4:30pm
Hampton Inn and Suites, Manchester Center, VT
$250 VR Members. |  $275 Non-Members
10 hours CE (Pending)

REGISTER TODAY!


Course Overview

DAY 1 – Green priorities for new and existing homes

Resource efficiency is a top consideration with new construction, but existing homes are about 90% of the market. Through this designation you’ll learn to identify client preferences that align with the benefits of resource efficiency. You’ll also learn how to guide clients to make greener choices when upgrading existing homes, and how new construction homes can meet and exceed green standards.

DAY 2 – Green homes are here to stay

Gain the knowledge that distinguishes you as a source for resource-efficient homes. This designation features content that focuses on the needs and  references of today’s homebuyer, such as cost savings, home health, and security. Discover the most effective ways of positioning a resource-efficient home on the market. The ability to bring the green aspects of a home to the forefront will make you an invaluable advisor to sellers.


Instructor: Craig Foley

Craig Foley is the chief of energy solutions for RE/MAX Leading Edge, and a co-founder of inCharge Energy. Craig joined the RE/MAX Leading Edge team in January of 2012 as a Realtor® with 12 years of experience, and as a leading advocate for high-performance buildings in New England. Craig is the architect of RE/MAX Leading Edge’s, a top five residential real estate company in MA, successful green brand and strategy.

Craig’s combination of real estate and energy management skills give him a unique perspective about sustainable energy solutions.

It’s Not Too Late To Influence Congress on Tax Reform

Thanks to our members’ engagement, REALTORS have helped positively influence tax reform in some key areas.  For example, both the House and Senate have agreed to maintain deductibility of state and local property taxes up to $10,000, and to maintain Section 1031 tax-deferred exchanges in their present form for real estate investments.

BUT OUR WORK IS NOT DONE. REALTORS have an opportunity to influence Congress to help make the tax reform bill more favorable to homeowners and consumers.  Now that both the House and Senate have passed The Tax Cut and Jobs Act, a Conference Committee will begin to address the differences between the two bills. Important improvements in the legislation are possible by encouraging Congress maintain the current law for the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains.  Congress can also address the State and Local Tax Deductibility issue by expanding the provision to include income taxes, raising the cap and indexing the cap to inflation.  These changes and retaining the current law makes the bill more favorable to homeownership.

Take action to tell Congress to protect middle-class homeowners.

TAKE ACTION NOW

Get the Information You Need About License Renewal

IMPORTANT RENEWAL DATES
Broker License Renewal – MARCH 31, 2018
Salesperson License Renewal – MAY 31, 2018

SALESPERSONS LICENSE REQUIREMENTS
Salespeople need 16 hours of Vermont approved continuing education credits in order to renew. REQUIRED

  • Vermont Real Estate Commission 4-hour Mandatory Course (Note: This course counts towards the 16 hours needed for your renewal)
  • 12 hours elective courses (can include NAR Code of Ethics). Elective courses must be VREC approved courses.

NAR Code of Ethics
The National Association of Realtors® requires the NAR Code of Ethics every two years. This can be taken online or in classroom. To get VT CE and the NAR fulfillment, you need to be sure the class is approved by NAR and the Vermont Real Estate Commission (VREC). If approved by the VREC, the CE counts toward your 12 Elective hours of CE. Click here for the NAR COE training.

BROKER LICENSE REQUIREMENTS
Brokers need 24 hours of Vermont approved continuing education credits in order to renew. REQUIRED

  • Vermont Real Estate Commission 4-hour Mandatory Course (Note: This course counts towards the 24 hours needed for your renewal)
  • 20 hours elective courses (can include NAR Code of Ethics). Elective courses must be VREC approved courses.

NAR Code of Ethics
The National Association of Realtors® requires the NAR Code of Ethics every two years. This can be taken online or in classroom. To get VT CE and the NAR fulfillment, you need to be sure the class is approved by NAR and the Vermont Real Estate Commission (VREC). If approved by the VREC, the CE counts toward your 12 Elective hours of CE. Click here for the NAR COE training.

Additional Resources
Did you know that you can download your real estate CE class certificates online? Your class certificates are available for any class taken after May 15, 2015 for classes that are offered through Vermont Realtors®. For all other education providers, you will need to contact the provider for your certificate.

Download Instructions

  1. Login by clicking here
  2. Hover over “Events”
  3. Click on “My Classes”
  4. Click on “Details” under the desired class
  5. Click on Certificate
  6. Save to your computer or print your certificate

Questions: Contact Katrina DeLabruere at (802) 229-0513 or at katrina@vermontrealtors.com

VR EDUCATION CALENDAR
Vermont Realtors® offers a full slate of educational opportunities throughout the state. You can view the current course offerings by clicking the button below. Please check back often as VR adds new educational opportunities throughout the year.

GO TO THE VR EDUCATION CALENDAR

ONLINE EDUCATION
Vermont Realtors® has partnered with educational affiliates to offer continuing education opportunities online. Get the courses you need, at your convenience! (Note: Please make certain that classes are approved by the Vermont Real Estate Commission if you are taking these classes for your license renewal).

MORE ABOUT ONLINE EDUCATION

Don’t Miss the 2017 Green Real Estate Symposium

Join us for the 2017 Green Real Estate Symposium

Appraising, Selling, and Financing Buildings with Energy Efficient and Renewable Energy Features

The Green Real Estate Symposium is a one day event designed to bring together Realtors®, appraisers, mortgage lenders, & home builders from Vermont and New Hampshire to educate all parties involved in the process of the green home movement.

Featuring powerhouse speakers and leading instructors in the real estate industry.

October 25, 2017
Lake Morey Resort
Fairlee, Vermont

Registration: $125
Includes lunch

REGISTER

Continuing Education Credits
Appraising Energy Efficient Homes (for Appraisers) – 8 hours VT and NH CE
Green Symposium – 7 hours VT and NH CE
Selling Energy Efficient Residential Properties – 8 hours VT and NE CE
Special Note: Upon completion of this course, attendees will be placed on the Energy Efficient Qualifications Registry (EEPQR.com).

Symposium Overview

8am – Registration

8:30am-5pm – Classes

Appraising Energy Efficient Homes (for Appraisers)

This class provides practitioners with a step-by-step, bulletproof methodology for appraising energy efficient homes. It includes proprietary forms and terminology that can be integrated into appraisal reports. We share valuable phrases that will help clearly identify the limitations of the appraiser’s observations; reduce liability for all parties, while providing the tools to accurately value energy-efficient homes.

This seminar is designed to provide those that successfully complete the course with the ability to complete appraisals that will be acceptable to the secondary mortgage market, even when comps do not exist.

Green Symposium

Energy efficiency is a growing concern among homeowners. This symposium will address a myriad of topics that are relevant in today’s marketplace with the emphasis on what is particularly relevant to Vermonters. The symposium will cover: Consumer demand for green and sustainable homes; trends and regulations; codes, certificates, labels and the MLS; solar energy and what you need to know; and much more!

Selling Energy Efficient Residential Properties

This course is designed to build an agents competency in the energy efficient homes market. For real estate sales professionals this includes; understanding the appraiser’s role described herein; and preparing the property for sale by compiling the appropriate documentation demonstrating the intrinsic value of the energy-efficient home.

1pm – Lunch

Classes resume following lunch

How the Equifax Breach Could Hurt Home Sales

The recent Equifax data breach, which exposed the personal information of about 143 million Americans—one of the largest hacks on record—could put home sales at risk. For consumers trying to get a mortgage, the data breach, which compromised people’s Social Security numbers, addresses, and credit card information, could stall their loan approval or put them at risk for having their information stolen and used in unlawful real estate transactions.

Scammers could also use stolen Social Security numbers to open up new credit cards and rack up debt under a person’s name, which could ruin the victim’s credit score. “If you have your identity stolen, it causes a lot of problems,” Don Frommeyer, a mortgage loan officer at Marine Bank in Indianapolis, told realtor.com®. “You have to prove it wasn’t you.”

Rob Douglas, an identity theft expert, predicts there will be an increase in fraudulent mortgage and refinance applications due to the Equifax breach. Loan officers may have to put additional vetting procedures in place, which, in turn, could slow down the loan approval process and burden borrowers with extra costs.

What Consumers Should Do

For your clients to better protect themselves, security experts recommend taking the following steps:

  • Check your exposure. To see whether the Equifax breach affected you, go to https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html
  • Freeze your accounts. If you have been affected, contact each of the big credit-reporting companies immediately to freeze your credit, security experts recommend. You can either do this online or by calling them. Equifax: 800-349-9960; Experian: 888‑397‑3742; TransUnion: 888-909-8872. You will still be able to use your credit cards, even with freezes in place, but no one will be able to check credit scores and personal information without your permission. You can also undo the freezes at any time, though that does often require a small fee.
  • Continue to monitor your credit. “It might be worth signing up for a credit monitoring service,” says Pete Mills, senior vice president of residential policy at the Mortgage Bankers Association. “It’s certainly easier to undo a fraudulent account within a few days” than to wait a few months to address it.

Source: “Why the Equifax Breach Might Make It Harder to Buy a Home – and What You Can Do,” realtor.com® (Sept. 15, 2017)

Consumers Say It’s a Good Time to Buy

The Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) report was created to monitor consumer sentiment about the housing market. It covers core topics that will be tracked on a monthly basis such as views on housing as a good financial investment, whether homeownership is part of the American Dream, if now is a good time to buy or sell a home and perception of home price changes.

Highlights:

  • In the third quarter of 2017, 77 percent of people believe that now is a good time to buy a home.
  • Forty-eight percent believe that strongly, a increase from 43 percent in Q2 2017, and an increase from 43 percent in Q3 2016.
  • Seventy-eight percent of people believe that now is a good time to sell a home, up from 71 percent in Q2 2017 and a steady increase from 63 percent in Q3 2016.
  • Fifty-one percent believe that strongly, up from 42 percent in Q2 2017.
  • Forty-four percent will move to a cheaper rental property, find a roommate to reduce costs, or move in with family if rent prices increase. Fifteen percent will consider buying a home.

This HOME survey is released on a quarterly basis.

Read the Survey

Why Doubling the Standard Deduction Won’t Help Most Homeowners

One of the most talked-about provisions in the tax reform framework that the Trump Administration and Republican congressional leadership released a few weeks ago is the doubling of the standard deduction. Of all the changes the framework would make, this one is presented as something that will help middle-income households. And that is true, but the households that it mainly helps are renter households. Home-owning households will likely see their taxes go up even if they were to take that increased standard deduction. There are two reasons for this.

TaxFirst, although the standard deduction would increase from $12,600 for a family to $24,000, the plan would do away with the personal exemption and the exemption for dependents.

Right now, those exemptions are $4,050 per person, So, for a family of four, the family would see their standard deduction rise from $12,600 to $24,000 but they would also no longer get to take their exemptions, which, under the current code, would total $16,200. So, they would gain almost $12,000 but lose more than $16,000. Households with larger families would lose even more.

Second, for homeowners who are used to itemizing their deductions, all of these deductions except for two—the deductions for charitable giving and mortgage interest—would go away. For many middle-income households (those earning between $50,000 and $200,000), the two remaining itemized deductions won’t be enough to make it advantageous for them to continue itemizing. That’s mainly because they would lose the deduction for state and local taxes, which, for many households, is the single largest itemized deduction they take, even larger than the deduction for mortgage interest. As a result, they would almost certainly stop itemizing and instead take the standard deduction. While that might give some of them a better tax picture than if they continued to itemize, it would nevertheless be less than what they receive in tax benefits under the current code.

Just as importantly, the change would wipe out the distinction between owning and renting in the tax code. That’s a distinction that’s been part of the tax code for more than 100 years and losing it would result in an across-the-board drop in home values by 10 percent or more, NAR estimates.

Of course, everyone’s tax picture is unique. How one person or one family comes out under the proposed changes will differ based on many factors–household income, household expenses, the number of dependents, the size of the mortgage, the state a household lives in, and so on. But in general, based on analyses NAR and other organizations have either done themselves or commissioned others to do, the result won’t be a net gain for most middle-income households but rather a net loss. That’s why NAR and many other organizations are opposing the changes the framework is proposing.

NAR’s concerns are detailed in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video. Watch now.

Your Voice Matters – Congress Extends NFIP

Thank you to the ACBOR members who responded to NAR’s recent Call for Action, urging Congress to extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

On Thursday, September 7, the Senate voted to pass a three-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The House of Representatives passed the legislation on Friday, September 8, 2017, and the President signed the bill into law later that day.

This legislation ensures that the NFIP will not lapse on September 30, 2017, and will be extended until December 8, 2017.

You can read more about the NFIP extension here.

Safety: Do This Now – A FREE Safety Webinar

Free Safety Webinar
September 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm CDT
Instructor: Andrea “Andy” Tolbert

Register Here

Andy TolbertHow do REALTORS® walk the line of prospecting and self-preservation? Register for this free safety webinar from the National Association of REALTORS® to learn from Andy Tolbert, Founder, SaferAgent, as she shares simple steps you can implement right away to minimize risk in your day-to-day business interactions.

Andrea “Andy” Tolbert has been in the real estate and mortgage industry since 1995, a REALTOR® since 1998, and a partner in a real estate brokerage that focused on sales and property management. As the Founder of SaferAgent, she and her husband, Tim, train real estate agents across Florida on how to protect themselves and their clients in a way that they’ll immediately “get” and be able to implement the very same day.