News Briefs

Information obtained from Suburban Realtor Alliance

General News

Feds prepared to reopen all Hurricane Sandy insurance claims
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to reopen claims filed by nearly 142,000 homeowners whose properties were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. FEMA will send letters to affected homeowners to initiate a review. If the homeowners are found to have received less in compensation than required, they will get more money up to the maximum of $250,000 for their property and $100,000 for dwelling contents. The move comes after months of questions over whether insurance companies contracted by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) fraudulently altered engineering reports. No agreement has yet been signed. FEMA spokesman Rafael Lemaitre says, “There will be a process set up so that everyone who filed a claim will have an opportunity to go back and have their case reviewed if they feel they did not get every dollar they are legitimately owed.” FEMA also says the head of the flood program, David Miller, has resigned.
Source:; 3/11/2015

FHFA Improves Note Sale Program
On March 2, 2015, The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) enhanced requirements for sales of non-performing loans by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (the GSEs). In a letter last year to FHFA Director Mel Watt, NAR raised concerns that this disposition strategy gives investors an advantage over potential owner occupant buyers. NAR requested more information on the sale of the notes and asked FHFA to study the cost and impact of bulk note sales to institutional investors. In January, NAR met with FHFA officials who indicated that coming changes would improve the note sale process. As part of the changes, borrowers whose loans are sold as part of the program must be considered for other relief such as a short sale. Additionally, if the home should go through the foreclosure process, for the first 20 days after a REO property is marketed, the property may be sold only to buyers who intend to occupy the property as their primary residence or to non-profits.
Source:; 3/4/2015

Calling all REALTOR® Candidates
If you are a REALTOR® and running in the upcoming municipal or county primary, the SRA would like to know. Please contact the Suburban REALTORS Alliance  

Bucks County

Newtown supervisors adopt updated FEMA floodplain map
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors voted to formally accept the revised floodplain map for the township that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will soon put in place. Newtown had until March 15 to formally adopt FEMA’s revised map. By approving the ordinance, Newtown will join FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System (CRS) which can lower a property owner’s base insurance premiums from five to 45 percent per year. The anticipated annual savings for each homeowner could be in the hundreds of dollars. The revised FEMA maps adjust designated flood-stage levels which must be taken into account when any permits are issued. According to Township Solicitor Jeff Garton, FEMA had already pre-approved Newtown’s proposed floodplain ordinance.
Source: The Advance of Bucks County; 3/8/2015

Sellersville approves tax abatement for future business campus
In order to attract prospective companies, Sellersville Borough Council approved a tax abatement measure for new construction at the Sellersville Business Campus. The ordinance establishes a five-year tax exemption for improvements and new construction in the area designated for the Sellersville Business Campus under Pennsylvania’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act, known as LERTA. Eligible properties would be exempt from all real estate property taxes assessed from the cost of the construction or improvements for five years starting from the completion of the work. The business campus will be located at the former site of Ametek Plant 2.
Source: Perkasie News Herald; 3/10/2015

Dublin Borough discusses creation of historic district
Dublin Borough Council members discussed some specifics about designating a historic district during a recent meeting. The borough’s Revitalization and Vision Plan includes creating a historic district and a Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB). A preliminary ordinance for a HARB was presented by Lynn Bush, executive director of the Bucks County Planning Commission. She stressed that the HARB will only review projects that need a building permit. The HARB would be comprised of a Realtor, architect and community members. A public meeting will be held prior to the creation of a historic district.
Source: Perkasie News Herald; 3/10/2015

Superfund site cleanup concerns Richland residents
Richland residents recently told township supervisors that they are growing increasingly worried about U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) activity at the Watson Johnson Superfund site. Located on 56 acres off east Pumping Station Road, the Watson Johnson landfill was active from the late 1950s until the early 1970s, accepting industrial and municipal waste. In 2001, it was declared a Superfund site, a federal program that addresses abandoned hazardous waste sites. EPA officials are set to move forward with plans to cap the former landfill and begin groundwater cleanup at the site this summer. A public meeting will be held this spring, and EPA officials are in the process of notifying hundreds of nearby residents of the upcoming project. Supervisor Chairman Rick Orloff and Supervisor Tim Arnold said more needs to be done to notify Richland residents of the cleanup at Watson Johnson and directed the township manager to contact EPA officials for an update.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 3/10/2015