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Lenders must give good faith estimates of mortgage loan costs within three business days after a consumer applies for a loan under Truth in Lending (TILA) disclosure requirements (Reg. Z) revised by the Federal Reserve Board. The new requirements apply to loan applications filed on or after July 30. REALTORS® will want to learn the basics of these new rules so they can advise clients on the new procedures, which are complex and expected to be a challenge for lenders. Among other provisions, lenders may not collect fees before the disclosure is provided, except for a reasonable fee for obtaining a credit report, and closings may not take place until expiration of a seven-day waiting period after the consumer receives the early disclosure.  Click here for details on the changes.  You can also check out this week’s Affiliate Corner for FAQs created by Ruth Dillingham of First American Title Insurance Company.
 


At a press conference at the State House last month, MAR President Gary Rogers of RE/MAX First Realty in Waltham, joined Governor Patrick, Lt. Governor Murray and MassHousing Chairman Dirrane to announce Masshousing’s new loan program that allows first-time home buyers to “monetize” the $8,000 Federal homebuyer tax credit for down payments and closing costs.

 “MAR is very proud to have been a resource for the Patrick/Murray administration and MassHousing in the creation of this new program,” said Rogers.  Massachusetts now joins a small but growing number of states that have developed a unique way to allow buyers to access the credit at a time when it can be most helpful in the home buying process.  In fact, a study just released by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found that 82 percent of would-be home buyers believe that saving enough for a down payment is still their biggest obstacle to home ownership.

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A July 10 lender bulletin from Freddie Mac says appraisers "must be familiar with the local market," select "appropriate comparable sales," and certify them as "most similar" to the property in question.

The bulletin also says appraisers are not required to use distressed properties in their comparable sales analyses unless they represent a good number of the properties on the market.

The bulletin is in response to the new Home Valuation Code of Conduct, which is being criticized for causing a shift among lenders to appraisal management firms outside the local market and for weakening home sales.  HVCC stems from an agreement between the state of New York and the two secondary mortgage market companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to curb inaccurate appraisals. Although the agreement is with New York, the two mortgage companies are applying the rules to all the mortgages they handle, so the impact is nationwide.

National Association of REALTORS® President Charles McMillan previously met with the New York Attorney General and the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency to explain how the HVCC has been adversely affecting the real estate sales process.  In fact, according to a NAR survey, approximately 76 percent of real estate practitioners say the time to obtain a completed appraisal increased after May 1, the effective date for the HVCC. Sixty-nine percent of those reporting increased appraisal times reported an increase of more than eight days. Lost sales were reported by 37 percent of respondents. More findings from the survey are online.

McMillan has since issued a statement applauding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for issuing clearer guidelines regarding the HVCC. You can also find many more HVCC resources online at realtor.org.   

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On August 17th the Boston City Council Committee on Government Operations will hold a public hearing to discuss Docket #0968 “Ordinance Regulating Zoning Code Compliance" sponsored by Councilors Michael Ross (8th District-Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, Kenmore, Mission Hill, West End, Allston) and Maureen Feeney (3rd District-Dorchester, Harbor Islands).

Under the proposed ordinance, real estate brokers, salesman and property owners in Boston would be liable for enforcing zoning, a responsibility currently given to the Inspectional Services Department (ISD).  The proposal prohibits against any advertisement that “would result in a violation” of a specific use regulation in the Boston Zoning Code.  That regulation defines five or more full time undergraduates as not constituting a “family” for purposes of zoning.  Landlords would be required to keep written records including every lease agreement for a period of three years. The City of Boston Inspectional Services Department (ISD) would then be permitted to access and inspect these records to determine if the real estate broker or property owner has violated the Boston Zoning Code definition of “family”.  Any violation of the ordinance, including the failure to keep or produce records would result in a fine of $300 per offense.  In addition, the City would report any REALTOR® violating the ordinance to the Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salesmen.

Last year GBREB expressed opposition to changes in the zoning code on the grounds it was fraught with legal issues and would be practically difficult to enforce.  GBREB continues express similar concerns with the current proposal.  Information on how REALTORS® can most effectively influence this important issue will be provided soon to agents and brokers who work in Boston.

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The Boston Fire Department (BFD) recently responded to concerns raised by the Greater Boston Real Estate Board regarding the wait time for fire inspections.  The BFD has updated its policy in the hopes of better facilitating its interaction with REALTORS® and avoid future delays with respect to smoke and carbon monoxide detector inspections.   BFD recently notified GBREB that they have changed their website to reflect improvements to service including the posting of a minimum seven business day advance notice to schedule appointments.  Appointments will be made on a first come first serve basis, however they will not be scheduled for any day that has reached inspection capacity.   GBREB appreciates the BFD’s willingness to examine its policies to improve wait time for fire inspections. 

Click here to see the new information on the BFD website.

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The 2010 nomination process for GBAR leadership is now open and is perfect for members looking to take a more active role in the association. The deadline to apply for local, state and national director seats and the offices of GBAR president-elect, vice-president, treasurer and a director, is August 31. Information on the deadlines and the open positions is available in the 2010 GBAR Nomination Packet.  

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The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has issued a mortgagee letter that clarifies that FHA will finance loans for condo units in projects of fewer than 4 units AND will be reducing the presale/occupancy requirement from 51 percent to 50 percent.  The clarification came out of a May meeting held between Representative Barney Frank and the Greater Boston Real Estate Board.  The changes will go into effect on October 1, 2009.

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