On January 31, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it entered into consent orders with a mortgage lender, mortgage servicer and two real estate brokers for violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). As part of the consent orders, the four companies agreed to pay $4 million. The two brokerage firms involved will pay a total of $85,000 in penalties and one will pay $145,000 in disgorgement.
The CFPB allegations said that the mortgage lender entered into illegal kickback agreements for referrals of business. The three main agreements that the CFPB targeted were:
- Paid referrals through agreements – the mortgage lender tracked the number of referrals made by each broker and adjusted the amount paid under agreements accordingly.
- Paid brokers to require consumers to prequalify with them – Under lead agreements, listing brokers and agents would require consumers to prequalify with the mortgage lender, even if they had been prequalified by another lender.
- Split fees with mortgage servicer – the mortgage lender had an agreement with a mortgage servicer to split profits on any refinance referrals the servicer provided.
At this time, it is unclear whether the CFPB will take further action against the “more than 100 brokers” they allege have similar agreements. The CFPB’s press release, and consent orders, can be found here. Stay tuned for more Virginia REALTORS® resources on this important issue.
Over the weekend, the Virginia General Assembly adjourned “sine die,” wrapping up the bulk of its work for the 2017 Session. Each piece of legislation that passed both the House of Delegates and state Senate has or will be communicated to the Governor for his consideration. The Governor can approve, amend or veto any piece of legislation. The General Assembly reconvenes on April 5th to approve or reject the Governor’s amendments and vetoes.
Virginia REALTORS® Legislative Agenda bills have fared strongly throughout the 2017 session and several have been signed already. Here are details on what’s been signed and what’s still awaiting action:
Regarding the sale of rental property:
- HB 1623 – Signed by the Governor and will become law July 1, 2017.
- SB 991 – The Governor has until Midnight on March 27th to act.
Regarding the foreclosure of rental property:
- HB 2281 – The bill passed on February 24th and will be communicated to the Governor.
- SB 966 – Signed by the Governor and will become law on July 1, 2017.
Regarding property and condo owners associations:
- HB 2045 – The Governor has until Midnight on March 27th to act.
- HB 2274 – The Governor has until Midnight on March 27th to act.
- SB 1231 – The Governor has until Midnight on March 27th to act.
- SB 1255 – The Governor has until Midnight on March 27th to act.
Regarding the Residential Property Disclosure Act:
- HB 2034 – The bill passed on February 24th and will be communicated to the Governor.
You can check out the full list of Legislative Agenda bills with descriptions at www.virginiarealtorschoose.com/2017-bills/.
Over the coming months, be on the lookout for information regarding 2017’s new laws and how they may impact your business and your clients. As always, if you have any comments or questions regarding policy issues, please email us at Advocacy@varealtor.com.
REALTOR® leaders have landed in the news for high profile recognition this week. Dennis Cronk, a past president of the National Association of REALTORS® and the Virginia REALTORS®, was listed among the “Most Influential Virginians of 2017” by Virginia Business magazine. His contributions to economic development and community investment, along with leadership at the state and national levels of the real estate industry, were cited in the recognition. Laura Lafayette, CEO of the Richmond Association of REALTORS®, was appointed to the Affordable Housing Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. Lafayette was commended for her commitment to affordable housing and expanding access to homeownership.
Virginia’s 2017 residential real estate market is off to a strong start. January performance showed notable year-over-year improvement. Pace, or the total number of transactions, rose from January 2016 by 6.5 percent (from 5,946 transactions to 6,335). Likewise, January volume grew year-over-year, from $1.800 billion in 2016 to $2.005 billion in 2017. The 11.4 percent increase in volume is attributed to both rising sales numbers and rising median price. Statewide, median price for January 2017 rose 3.2 percent from January 2016, from $247,000 to $255,000. Typical of industry seasonality, January sales pace and volume fell from December, but less so than from December to January last year. Virginia’s historical trends indicate that sales climb every month from January to June as they reach summer’s market peak. Along with declining days on the market, the 3.2 percent year-over-year increase in median price (from $247,000 to $255,000) indicates strong, sustained buyer motivation. Average days on the market declined year-over-year from 86 to 77 (10.5 percent). The average 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate for January 2017 dipped slightly to 4.15 percent after spiking at year’s end. Though the Federal Reserve Bank deferred raising the key rate in January, the prospect of rising mortgage rates may propel buyers into the market while financing remains historically affordable.
Read the full report here.
The next Virginia REALTORS® event is fast approaching! Don’t miss the opportunity to enhance your business practices with education from industry leader Leigh Brown and market analysis from NAR’s Ken Fears. Early registration lasts through February 28, and there is a discount to sign up for both Spring and Fall Broker Days. These are key networking and leadership occasions. For more information, contact the Virginia REALTORS® team at VARConferences@VARealtor.com.
What entices a member who’s never joined a Virginia REALTORS® event to attend for the
first time? Nikki Bernius, member of the Lynchburg Association, shares some insight about her ‘first-timer’ visit to the 2017 Legislative Advocacy Conference. Joining hundreds of energized peers for exciting networking, education, and collective advocacy was a big part of the recipe. When Nikki decided to attend the event, her focus was on meeting and networking with fellow REALTORS®, lenders, and affiliates to build valuable relationships. Since she’s relatively new to the business, her mind was also on the enhanced education experience. Her most valuable takeaway was from the Virginia REALTORS® session Disclosure Shall Set You Free, where she gained even more perspective on the many disclosures REALTORS® need to make. She’s learned that defining her role through REALTOR® expertise is essential and that providing the best customer service is a hallmark of her career.
Her tips for fellow new REALTORS®? “Find a mentor. Find someone you work well with. Someone of high caliber that can train you and show you the ropes the right way.”
Were you a first-timer at the Legislative Advocacy Conference? Have you had a crazy showing, a challenging client, or a brilliant breakthrough? We want to share your story – big or small – so tell us about your inspirations, obstacles, and lessons. Contact us at Outreach@varealtor.com. Submissions are welcomed on a rolling basis.
Two of Virginia’s distinguished REALTOR® leaders have been officially welcomed into an elite National Association of REALTORS® RPAC group. Trish Szego, 2012 President of the Virginia REALTORS®, and Bill White, 2016 President, were accepted last week as official members of the Class of 2016 NAR RPAC Hall of Fame. They join a dozen fellow Virginia REALTORS® who have been previously honored for their major contribution to REALTOR® advocacy through RPAC support. Hall of Fame members have contributed a cumulative amount of at least $25,000 to RPAC.
Szego and White will be honored on stage at the national Legislative Meetings (‘Mid-Year’) event in May.
The Virginia REALTORS® are pleased to recognize the members that have been accepted into the 2017 Virginia Leadership Academy (VLA). Classmates were introduced at the conclusion of last week’s Legislative Advocacy Conference. The Virginia Leadership Academy is conducted once every two years and identifies promising leaders through a competitive application process that prioritizes professional achievement in our industry and leadership in communities throughout the state. VLA cultivates talent and prepares Virginia real estate professionals for industry leadership at the state and national level. The REALTORS® and their hometowns are:
- Valeria Alphin- Roanoke
- Jennifer Cool- Virginia Beach
- Deborah Crigger- Wytheville
- Lauren Duguay – Williamsburg
- Beth Grant – Nokesville
- Christopher Hannan – Newport News
- Kara Joseph – Warrenton
- Whitney Minnich- Alexandria
- Johana Story – Prince George
- Peggy Todd – Hampton
- Belinda Tusing – Quicksburg
- Tom Woolfolk – Gordonsville
We are unveiling a few new resources. There’s a new page on our site that contains brand guidelines and logos for you to use. Our name and our design represent modern efficiency and strength – the same assets that we proudly champion in Virginia REALTORS®. There’s more to come, including the launch of our new website this spring. In addition to our new name and logo, we will continue to introduce more new resources to strengthen our reach to consumers and elevate awareness of the REALTOR® brand… of you. As always, our top priority is REALTOR® business success and the rights of Virginia’s property owners.
Click here for BRAND GUIDELINES and resources.
The brand of the Virginia REALTORS® encompasses the practices of our members and celebrates our diversity. From residential to commercial to property management; from urban townhomes to rural barns; from coast to mountains – and all of the variety in between. The logos are for use exclusively by active Virginia REALTORS® and the staff of Virginia REALTOR® associations, and in manners that enhance the perception and reputation of REALTOR® members.
For specific questions on brand use, contact Jenny Wortham at Jenny@VARealtor.com. Click here for separate resources on use of the trademarked REALTOR® term and marks.
Hundreds of REALTORS® are in downtown Richmond this week to represent our industry’s business interests and the importance of homeownership and property rights. Bringing our message directly to Virginia’s lawmakers is important not just during the General Assembly session at our state Capitol, but throughout the year and in every district. Your leadership in Virginia’s communities is our best advocacy in action. It tells policymakers that you add value to Virginia’s economy, to the quality of life in our communities, and to your neighbors and their constituents. As they consider laws and regulations that impact your business and your clients, legislators know that REALTORS® mean business.
Are you joining us for Day on the Hill? We want to hear your voice, see your pictures, and celebrate the impact of our advocacy together. Share your updates! Facebook, Twitter, or Outreach@VARealtor.com.