Legislative Update: March 27, 2019
By BOB QUINN
Vice President of Government Affairs
Here are a few items being explored in the New Hampshire legislature that are of potential interest to the real estate community and being watched closely by your New Hampshire REALTORS government affairs team:
Legislation passes Senate to create long-term funding for affordable housing
The Senate has passed Senate Bill 15, which provides funding to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority to facilitate the purchase, rehabilitation or construction of affordable housing primarily for low and moderate income families. NHAR testified in favor of the bill.
The bill provides an immediate $10 million for the Affordable Housing Fund, however, just as importantly, the legislation requires an annual transfer $5 million from revenue collected from the real estate transfer tax (RETT). NHAR testified that it is entirely appropriate that a portion of the RETT revenues is used for housing.
NHAR did indicate that we would oppose any future attempt to increase the RETT to cover additional revenues for this housing fund.
The House will likely hold a hearing on the bill in April.
New Fire and Building Codes have a surprise for future buyers; NHAR opposed.
Two pieces of legislation which would update the NH Building and Fire Codes are making their way through the legislature. New Hampshire is currently operating under the 2009 codes, and Senate Bill 49 and House Bill 562 would update the state to the 2015 codes. NHAR takes no position on that portion of the legislation.
Unfortunately, the state’s building code review board (BCRB) added language to the codes which allows a homeowner to "opt-out" of certain elements related to the fire protection of floors. The property owner would then be required to file a yet-to-be-written “Floors Omission Disclosure Document” with both the Registry of Deeds as well as local municipality property records.
How this process impacts homeowner’s insurance, lending rates and the potential clouding of title is not clear, since the BCRB never sought input from those industries. It will certainly increase liability for both Realtors and Homeowners as well as lead to general confusion during property transfers. NHAR is opposed, arguing that elected officials need to review the rules before simply adopting them into law.
New definitions for solar and wind energy systems
House Bill 464 updates the definitions of solar energy and wind powered energy systems for purposes of municipal property tax exemptions. The current definitions date from 2003. The bill enables towns to include related hardware such as inverters and storage within the exemption. NHAR supports the legislation as the definitions were clearly outdated.
Bill would give some homeowners relief on property taxes.
Senate Bill 243 would give some property owners relief from the statewide education property tax. The bill alters the existing income criteria for such relief from $20,000 to $40,000 for a single-person; and the $40,000 to $80,000 for a married couple or head of household. Those income levels would also be linked to the CPI index and adjust every other year.
The bill would also adjust how much the statewide education property tax rate is reduced for the homeowner depending on his or her income. Keep in mind, the bill only impacts the statewide property tax and has no impact on municipal rates.
To view the most recent legislative chart, click here. If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2019 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact NHAR Vice President of Government Affairs Bob Quinn at email@example.com or 603-225-5549.
Amidst the sea of change to which the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS has played witness in its 85 years, one thing that has remained constant is the Realtor 'R' and the value we bring to every real estate transaction in which we take part. We are part of a unique community where our familial cooperation transcends our business competition. These are not mere platitudes, but our living ideals, and they are, in fact, the foundation on which we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day affairs.
Dan O'Halloran (at right), 2019 President, New Hampshire REALTORS