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The Richmond Report: Realtor® Advocacy in Action at the General Assembly


Closing out the third full week of session, the Realtor® state legislative agenda is faring well.

Realtor® Association Health Plan

Yesterday (February 2), the full House of Delegates passed our Association Health Plan legislation (HB 768/Hodges) on a 97-2 vote! The Senate had previously passed the companion bill (SB 335/Barker) unanimously. Each bill will now be sent to the opposite Chamber for a vote. Then, the bill will go to Governor Youngkin (R) who has said he will sign it.

This is a huge win for the Realtors® after pursuing legislation for four years and running into a roadblock with the Governor’s office. This is the first step in a process that will allow the Virginia Realtors® to begin talking to insurance companies in order to negotiate a plan we could offer our members.

Realtor® Agenda Legislation

Other issues on the Realtor® agenda have moved forward as well.

SB 510/Suetterlein requiring brokers to designate a representative to close out their business upon the death or disability of the broker has passed the Senate.

SB 533/Lewis, designed to protect brokers from escrow violations when a third party is delivering and/or holding escrow monies has passed the Senate. It clarifies that a broker shall ensure an earnest money deposit is delivered to the escrow agent named in the contract by the end of the fifth business banking day following receipt unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the principals to the transaction.

SB 197/Mason, requiring that Common Interest Communities recognize a real estate licensee’s right to represent a client for certain association matters with written consent has passed the Senate. It also clarifies that a third-party vendor delivering CIC packets for an association are under the same 14-day packet delivery laws as the association itself. HB 470/Bulova, the House companion bill to SB 197 passed the House General Laws Committee on February 3.

HB 281/Coyner, clarifying that a buyer is entitled to obtain owner’s title insurance that meets the standard of the American Land Title Association; and provides for a narrowly tailored mandatory seller disclosure if the seller has actual knowledge of pending litigation that potentially affects ownership of the property, passed the House Commerce Committee on February 3. SB 311/Ebbin, a companion bill, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Playing Defense and Working Collaboratively

Your Realtor® lobby team has also spent a considerable amount of time working to make numerous landlord-tenant bills fair to landlords and owners while attempting to assist tenants living in bad conditions.

Other issues such as bills allowing for unnecessary real estate disclosures and mandates that would add to the cost burden for home builders have been opposed by your advocacy team and were defeated in committee.

NVAR Members and Staff Looking Out For You

NVAR lobbyist, Mary Beth Coya, testified before both the House and Senate Transportation Committees in support of HB 859/Reid and SB 445/Boysko which would authorize the state to enter negotiations with the owner of the Dulles Greenway in an effort to obtain lower tolls and distanced-based pricing. As of this writing, it appears interested parties and the Governor’s office will form a workgroup to look at this over the summer and report back to the legislature next year.

Last week, NVAR’s leadership team met with key Realtor® champions at the legislature. Meeting with them were Delegate Carrie Coyner (R), Delegate Marcus Simon (D), Delegate Keith Hodges (R), Delegate David Reid (D), Senator David Suetterlein (R), Senator John Bell (D), and Senator Barbara Favola (D).
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The following day, Realtors® from Northern Virginia traveled to Richmond to hear from numerous legislators and meet with their individual representatives. This annual trip is a wonderful opportunity for our members to engage with elected officials and represent our industry. The respect elected officials have for our members is evident by the number of legislators who make time in an extraordinarily busy schedule to come and spend time with us.

The NVAR Bill Review Taskforce met early in the session to review a number of bills of interest to Northern Virginia. The Virginia Realtors® Public Policy Committee (on which four NVAR members serve) has a call each Friday morning to take positions on legislative bills and receive status reports. Realtors® take a position of Support or Oppose on key legislation. Many bills are amended along the way to address concerns of our industry.

Overall, as we near Crossover, or the “halfway” mark, the Realtor® agenda and other bills positively impacting our industry are in good shape.

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