Flood Insurance Extended to December 21st

On December 6, 2018, the House and Senate passed a two-week extension of the National Flood Insurance Program. The President is expected to sign the measure.

The program is being extended as part of a temporary appropriations bill called a continuing resolution to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government. The legislation will move the funding deadline for fiscal 2019 spending bills that are still outstanding to Dec. 21.

By extending flood insurance as part of the continuing resolution, the next extension could be part of a long-term funding agreement, potentially running through September of next year.

NAR supports long-term reauthorization and reforms to strengthen the program.

Read more here.

Mortgage Loan Limits to Rise in 2019 to Keep Pace With Home Prices

Conforming loan limits got a boost for 2019 in nearly every part of the U.S. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, a regulator for mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced that conforming loan limits will rise in 2019 to $484,350 in most parts of the country. That marks a 6.9 percent increase over this year’s $453,100.

The FHFA limits set the maximum single-family mortgage amounts that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will finance, as well as limits for the Federal Housing Administration program.

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“These limits are important for funding home sales in high-cost coastal markets like California, Virginia, and Maryland, but are increasingly important in other markets like Nashville and Denver, along with those in Utah and Wyoming,” the National Association of REALTORS® notes in a release.

The FHFA also announced an increase to loan limits in “high-cost areas,” where 115 percent of the local median home value is higher than the baseline loan limit. The new limit for one-unit properties in most high-cost areas will be $726,525 in 2019, rising from the current $679,650.

This is the third consecutive year that the FHFA has increased conforming loan limits. Justifying the rise, the FHFA notes that home prices are still increasing.

Read more here.

Kannapolis Development Ordinance Re-write

Earlier this week, the City of Kannapolis began a two-year process of updating their Unified Development Ordinance (Kannapolis Development Ordinance – KDO). The process started with a series of stakeholder interviews with staff to gain perspective on their experiences in Kannapolis and the region. The next step in the process should start in February 2019 with community feedback sessions.

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The main goal is to create an ordinance that is internally consistent, modernized, aligned with contemporary zoning and subdivision best practices, and more user-friendly.

To stay up to date with the process click here. REBIC will continue to stay engaged with this process and keep our members updated.

Why We’ll be Voting YES for City Bonds

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by Joe Padilla, REBIC Executive Director

Charlotte has an Affordable Housing crisis — it’s an undeniable fact. Our crisis is not unlike those faced by dozens of American cities, large and small, where a limited supply of land and rooftops pushes rents and home prices out of reach for many. It’s a unfortunate byproduct of our own success, driven by the growing appeal of a city that continues to attract more than 40 new residents a day with our high quality of life, temperate weather and strong job market.

What is also undeniable is that the need for affordable housing exists across much of the income spectrum. The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) pegs the Charlotte MSA’s Area Median Income (AMI) right around $74,000. Using the rule of thumb that no one should spend no more than 30% of their gross income on housing, a family of four earning 80% of AMI ($56,550 a year) could pay a maximum of about $1,400 a month in order to avoid being what the government considers ‘cost burdened.’ On the lower end of the income spectrum, a family of four at 30% AMI ($35,350) shouldn’t exceed about $883 in monthly housing costs.

For any family earning below Charlotte’s Area Median Income, the challenge of finding affordable housing is very real. The City’s deficit of more than 34,000 new or renovated affordable units covers this entire spectrum of incomes — from the teachers, restaurant workers and landscapers at the upper end to the working poor toward the bottom.

There’s no silver bullet that will make this challenge go away overnight — but bold public funding investments are the most effective tool. That’s why REBIC and our member associations strongly endorse the $50 million in City Housing Bonds on this year’s ballot. The money raised through the bond issue — along with matching private investments committed by our largest corporate citizens — would go into City’s Housing Trust Fund, ensuring all Charlotte taxpayers have skin in the game when it comes to addressing our affordable housing crisis.

Some have argued that the Trust Fund should be used to exclusively address needs at the lowest end of our income spectrum, where they say it would have the greatest impact. They’ve even advocated for voting against the Housing Bond Referendum until the City commits to this strategy. But this position ignores the complex challenges of underwriting subsidized housing deals, which typically require a unit mix with rents across the income scale. And focusing exclusively on housing for families earning below 30% AMI would lead to undesirable concentrations of poverty that City leaders have vowed to avoid.

Like poverty itself, the affordable housing crisis will never fully disappear. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps that will produce meaningful results for thousands of our neighbors who need assistance. That’s why we’re asking members of Charlotte’s real estate community to vote YES for the City Bond Referendum on this year’s ballot.

Councilman Mitchell Hosting Town Hall on Public Sector Business Opportunities

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Huntersville Considering Independent Land Development Agency

The Town of Huntersville is considering establishing its own local development review and permitting agency, bringing in-house a variety of services now provided by Mecklenburg County.

The main services the Town would take over from LUESA include development plan review; zoning, development and erosion control inspections; and bond administration. The Town Manager told the Board this week that five new positions would need to be created to provide these services.

Board members expressed their hope that bringing land development services in house would improve efficiency and reduce plan approval time for developers. REBIC is meeting with staff and Commissioners over the coming weeks to explore the proposal and ensure a handover doesn’t negatively impact development services.

The Board of Commissioners hopes to vote on the proposal in November and begin implementation by July 2019.

Matthews Defers Action on Small Area Overlay Districts

The Matthews Town Board this week voted a second time to defer a vote on a proposal to create a new Zoning Overlay District (SAP-O) that would make the land use and development policies in three Small Area Plans enforceable on all new development, regardless of whether or not a rezoning is involved.

REBIC has been opposed to the proposal, as are a group of property owners who share our concerns about the restrictions the Overlay would place on their property. The Overlay would impact all parcels in three Small Area Plans adopted by the Town between 2014 and 2017:

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