News Brief…

All information obtained by Suburban Realtors Alliance

General News

New study shows Americans concerned with housing affordability
While the American public believes the housing industry is improving, 60 percent believe the country is still not completely clear of the housing crisis, according to a new study by The MacArthur Foundation. The same study, titled ‘How Housing Matters,’ does highlight that more than half (56 percent) of those surveyed said they believe buying a home is an “excellent long-term investment.” One of the more alarming survey findings is that “significant majorities of the public believe it is harder for Millennials to accomplish many of the basic elements of a middle-class life, including having a decent-paying job, owning a home, having stable, affordable housing, and saving for retirement.” According to the survey, 80 percent believe housing affordability is an issue, with 60 percent deeming it a ‘serious problem.’
Source: PARJustListed; 7/2/2015

Public meeting of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission
Sellers, buyers, renters, real estate students and concerned citizens are invited to a public meeting of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission. The meeting will be held on July 22, 2015 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Temple University’s Real Estate Institute, 1515 Market St., Room 205, Philadelphia, PA. The general public is invited to bring concerns, questions or comments about the licensed activities of real estate brokers and salespersons, cemetery brokers and sales-persons, cemeteries, rental listing referral services and real estate schools to this public meeting. If you are a person with a disability and wish to attend, please call 717- 787-6604 or contact the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service at 1-800-654-5984 (TDD) to discuss accommodations.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 7/6/2015

Bucks County

Three Bucks towns eye joint fracking ordinance
A joint ordinance that would regulate fracking in Newtown, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown townships will soon be presented for a vote in all three townships. Fracking is a method of extracting natural gas or oil by injecting fluid into shale rock cracks and fissures. Although there are no known deposits of natural gas or oil in any of the three townships, having an ordinance in place is a wise course of action, according to attorney Matt McHugh, of Grim, Biehn and Thatcher. Not having an ordinance would risk allowing a driller to start a fracking operation in any area of the three townships if deposits of natural gas or oil were ever found, said McHugh. The proposed ordinance would allow the municipalities to regulate the operation by limiting it to three zoning designations and also enacting other regulations as a safeguard and protection for residents. The ordinances are likely to be voted on by all three townships in the next month or two.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 7/6/2015

Bristol Borough looking to enact LERTA
Bristol Borough will consider enacting a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program, also known as LERTA, to help development in the borough. Under LERTA, properties are still taxed at 100 percent of their assessed value, prior to renovations, but freed from taxes on all or part of the increased value of renovations for 10 years. According to Councilman Greg Pezza, Bristol’s LERTA would require owners of renovated properties to pay taxes on 50 percent of the new increased assessed value, along with the full amount of taxes on the property’s assessed value prior to any improvements. For the LERTA to be enacted, a municipal government, school district and county have to give approval. Bristol council plans to vote on its approval at the July 13 regular meeting.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 7/5/2015

Morrisville school taxes to rise
The Morrisville school board approved a final budget for 2015-16 that will increase taxes nearly 2.3 percent, or about $80 for a home assessed at the borough average of $18,000. The total millage for the $17.95 million spending plan is 192.19 mills. The owner of a property assessed at the borough average will pay approximately $3,459 in school taxes. According to district officials, expenses for the 2015-16 plan increased 3.23 percent over last school year. The increase is attributed to several factors, including stagnant state funding that is not keeping pace with expenses, a decrease in federal funding, and a loss in assessed property value.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 7/6/2015

Pennridge board passes budget
The Pennridge school board approved a 2015-16 school year budget that includes a 1.9 percent tax increase. The millage rate will increase from 129.6227 mills to 132.0855 mills. A mill equates to $1 in taxes per $1,000 of assessed property value. Residents with homes assessed at the district average of $30,520 will pay an additional $75.16. At the beginning of the budget process, Pennridge officials faced a $10 million deficit, which was due in part to rising health care costs and the rising retirement contribution rate. The district will use $3.4 million from the district’s fund balance to cover the balance of the deficit after the tax increase.
Source: The Reporter; 6/30/2015