News Briefs

All information obtained from Suburban Realtors Alliance

General News

Realtors® Call on Congress to Ease Regulatory Burdens Curbing Access to Mortgage Credit
According to testimony from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) before the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, unnecessary regulatory burdens are preventing qualified, credit-worthy borrowers from obtaining the American Dream of homeownership. “REALTORS® support strong underwriting standards to protect consumers from the risky lending practices of the past, but we are concerned that the pendulum has swung too far. In some cases, well-intentioned, but over-corrective policies are severely hampering the ability of millions of qualified buyers to purchase a home. I believe, and our members believe, that we have yet to strike the right balance between regulation and opportunity,” said NAR President Chris Polychron. In his testimony, Polychron proposed adjustments to a range of regulations that would provide consumers with valuable protections and safe access to mortgage credit. He recommended changes to restrictive condominium polices from the Federal Housing Administration and the Government-Sponsored Enterprises, which limit opportunities for buyers to own condos. Polychron also pressed for the U.S. Senate to pass the Mortgage Choice Act, bipartisan legislation that importantly redefines a provision in the Ability-to-Repay rules that limits mortgage fees and points to 3 percent in order for home loans to be considered Qualified Mortgages. NAR will continue to work with Congress and the administration to develop balanced housing policies that protect borrowers while supporting a robust housing market.
Source:; 4/16/2015

Bucks County

County reports few plans for new homes, offices and industry
Figures recently released by the Bucks County Planning Commission show a continued slump in new homes, stores, offices or industry planned in the months to come. The newly release Development Activity Report for 2015 shows little movement by builders, retailers or investors. According to county officials, the report highlights only proposals and not actual construction and it provides an indication of what areas might undergo construction in the months to come. In 2014, Bucks County reviewed proposals for just 780 new homes, condos and apartments – a 7 percent increase from the prior year and the highest number of new homes proposed since 2010. But 62 percent of those new units were planned for a development that has since been scrapped. New housing construction is planned on a smaller scale in all but four communities in the county, but the total number of proposed new homes remains far below average. Industrial development is down 56 percent and office space construction is down 37 percent.
Source: The Intelligencer; 4/14/2015

Council Rock board eyes $8.5 million budget gap
Council Rock school board members and administrators will look for ways to close an $8.5 million budget gap for 2015-16. A first draft budget was presented by Director of Business Administration Robert Reinhart at a recent board meeting that listed $214.4 million in revenues and $222.9 million in expenses. Before passing a final budget in June, the board must decide how much they want to raise property taxes – if at all – and how much of the district’s $29 million in savings they want to use to balance the budget. Council Rock has already passed a resolution stating property taxes will not increase by more than 1.9 percent. A 1.9 percent tax increase would be 2.17 mills, or $82 for a resident with a property assessed at the school district average of $38,000. A 1.9 percent tax increase would bring in about $2.7 million in revenue. The board is tentatively scheduled to vote on a preliminary budget at its April 23 meeting, and a public forum devoted entirely to the 2015-16 budget is tentatively scheduled for May 13. The 131-page first draft 2015 budget is available for review on Council Rock’s website, Click on “CR Finances” for the budget.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 4/13/2015

Bucks Human Relations Council plans forum on discrimination
The Bucks County Human Relations Council (BCHRC) was formed by Bucks County commissioners in 1996. The BCHRC, a nonprofit based in Richboro, has a local hotline to report bias, prejudice and unfair housing practices. But calls to the hotline, 215-340-8220, number just five calls a month, and that worries some board members. According to board member Joyce Hadley, “We figure that some people just don’t know we exist. There’s a climate in our nation right now. In Bucks County, we have not heard of many cases, but we’re not sure if people know where to call.” A public awareness campaign is scheduled to begin next month with a series of events beginning with a May 5 community forum. The free event on “Addressing Fair Housing, Hate Crimes and Police-Community Relations” is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Yardley-Lower Makefield Public Library, 1080 Edgewood Rd. in Lower Makefield. Representatives from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Council are scheduled to give presentations on discrimination and hate crime activity. For more information,
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 4/15/2015

EPA schedules public meeting for Richland waste site
This summer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials are set to move forward with a multimillion-dollar project to cap the former Watson Johnson landfill and begin groundwater cleanup at the site. The EPA will hold a public meeting about the cleanup on April 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the James A. Michener Public Library on West Mill St. in Quakertown. A presentation will be given at 6:30 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. EPA representatives will be available to answer residents’ questions and discuss any related concerns. 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, which is a federal program that addresses abandoned hazardous waste sites.
Source: The Intelligencer; 4/14/2015