News Brief…

Information provided by Suburban Realtors Alliance

General News

Analysis: 1 in 4 must use half their pay for housing costs
According to an analysis of Census data by Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that helps finance affordable housing, more than one in four U.S. renters have to use at least half their family income to pay for housing and utilities. The number of such households has jumped 26 percent to 11.25 million since 2007. Using data from the Labor Department and Zillow, the analysis points out that rental prices have surged at nearly twice the pace of average hourly wages since 2010. The crisis reflects one of the shortcomings of the recovery from the Great Recession: Income has failed to match rent increases. At the same time, construction has failed to keep pace with demand from renters. “It means making really difficult trade-offs,” said Angela Boyd, a vice president at Enterprise Community Partners. “There are daily financial dilemmas about making their rent or buying groceries.” Click here for more.
Source: Times Herald; 5/1/2015

Philadelphia Business Tax and License Requirements
In light of recent media reports regarding the alleged failure of Realtors to comply with the City of Philadelphia’s complex system of business tax and license requirements, the Suburban REALTORS Alliance has produced an issue brief titled “Philadelphia Business License and Tax Requirements.”The document is meant to provide an introductory resource for REALTORS who are interested in learning more about Philadelphia’s requirements for individuals and organizations conducting business within its borders.

Bucks County

Centennial budget plan avoids projected catastrophe
Before he was elected to the Centennial School Board four years ago, Steve Adams would sit in the audience and listen to the dire financial forecasts. “This year was supposed to be Armageddon,” Adams said. “This was D-Day. This was when we fell below the line, when we lost all of our general fund.” The catastrophe, however, did not materialize. Adams contends that “tough choices” made by the current board – “that they weren’t making in years prior” – has helped the district avoid the disastrous forecast. Centennial approved a proposed budget of $106.8 million with a 3.7 percent tax increase that will not cut into programs. If approved, the 3.7 percent increase would amount to an increase of $121 to the total tax bill of a home assessed at the district average of $26,400. The millage rate would increase to 126.76 mills, with a mill equal to a tax of $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. Adams called the tax increase “reasonable” and said the district’s tax rate is the second lowest in Bucks County. The budget will be finalized by the end of June.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 5/4/2015

Warrington to consider ordinances to create water and sewer districts
At their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 7:30 p.m., the Warrington Township Board of Supervisors will consider two ordinances providing public water and sewer service to an area of the township including Anna Street and Honora Street. The proposed ordinances create the Anna/Honora Sanitary Sewer District and the Anna/Honora Water District and list the tax parcels and tapping fees for each district. A complete copy of the ordinances is available for review at the Warrington Township Building, 852 Easton Rd., Warrington, PA during normal business hours. Visit http://www.warringtontownship.org/ for the most up-to-date meeting information.
Source: The Intelligencer; 5/4/2015

Neshaminy to use reserves for balanced budget
The Neshaminy school board recently voted to approve a proposed final budget for 2015-16 that includes using about $8 million in reserves to help balance a $175 million budget. The district has about $17 million in reserves that it can use to help cover expenses, said business administrator Barbara Markowitz. According to district officials, the spending plan does not include a tax increase. The final adoption of the budget is scheduled for June 16. In the meantime, administrators will continue to look for ways to trim expenses, said Superintendent Robert Copeland.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 5/5/2015

New homes planned for New Britain Township
New Britain Township supervisors approved the development of 59 twin homes and townhomes on a 20-acre lot off Schoolhouse Road. An adjacent 20-acres will be donated to the township for park use by the owner of the property, Quad Graphics. The homes will be built by W.B Homes of North Wales. The developer still must present a land development plan to the supervisors for approval before construction can begin. Zoning on the tract has already been changed from industrial to rural residential. Each residence will have a small plot to the rear of the home, but most of the 10 acres of open land will be held and maintained by a homeowners’ association. If all approvals are granted, groundbreaking for the three-bedroom units could take place next spring. Pricing is expected to be in the mid-$300,000s.
Source: The Intelligencer; 5/5/2015

 

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News This Week…

Information listed has been provided by Suburban Realtors Alliance

Bucks County

Bristol Township real estate on the rise
On the flip side of the housing slump that began in 2007, Bristol Township has slowly seen the real estate market improve. After losing nearly 25 percent of the value of Bristol Township homes in 2007, prices have increased 4.7 percent in 2013, 1 percent in 2014 and so far this year – 16 percent. According to veteran real estate agent Ellen M. Cassidy, prices are up substantially this year because of higher-cost renovations by investors who flipped houses, especially in the township’s portion of Levittown. According to Cassidy, 22 percent of the properties on the market are short sales or bank repossessions after foreclosure, ranging in price from $50,000 to the low $100,000s. When purchased, renovated and flipped, resales of these houses range from $200,000 to $250,000, said Cassidy. What has helped the market, Cassidy continues, was easing use-and-occupancy requirements for resale. The township council eliminated a $500 escrow required to purchase a home, streamlined the criteria for resale inspections to include only items directly related to public health, safety and welfare and “sent the message to the Realtor community that Bristol Township encouraged investment both residential and commercial,” says Township Manager William McCauley. It is the “renaissance” of Bristol Township, according to Councilwoman Amber Longhitano, also a Realtor. “We are rebuilding our community one step at a time,” she says. That includes repairing the roads, implementing a “state-of-the-art” LED street lighting system, and rebuilding the sewer system.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 4/20/2015

Springfield opposes pipeline plan
Springfield officials are taking a stand against the PennEast Pipeline. The board of supervisors voted to sign a resolution that opposes the construction of the PennEast Pipeline and calls upon neighboring municipalities to join in the opposition. According to Springfield’s resolution, the PennEast Pipeline could have a significant and degrading cumulative impact on the landscape and aquifers of the Cooks Creek Watershed, the residents of Bucks County and the Delaware River Basin. PennEast is a 114-mile natural gas pipeline planned from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania to Mercer County, New Jersey that is currently under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If approved, the pipeline would cut through Durham Township in Bucks County, just south of Riegelsville. PennEast representatives claim that the pipeline would provide natural gas to residents and small business owners and would amount to significant energy savings for local customers.
Source: The Intelligencer; 4/28/2015

Upper Makefield to hold special meeting on Toll Brothers project
Upper Makefield Township supervisors have scheduled a special meeting devoted entirely to consideration of final approval for the Toll Brothers project on the White tract and Upper Makefield’s share of the Melsky tract. The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m., on May 11 at the township building, 1076 Eagle Road. Toll Brothers is proposing 80 single-family homes on the 95-acre White tract and 38 single-family houses for the 66-acre part of the Melsky tract. The developer also plans 45 more houses on the other 68 acres of the Melsky tract that is in Newtown Township. Upper Makefield supervisors granted approval for both tracts in 2007, but a group of neighbors has carried out an appeal through several courts. The matter has now been remanded back to the supervisors for consideration of final approval. Items that the supervisors will consider during the special meeting include whether the detention basins in the open space lots are permitted under the applicable ordinance provisions of the joint municipal zoning ordinance; whether the plans comply with the township’s storm water management ordinance; and whether the plans comply with the conditions set forth in the 2007 approval letter.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 4/28/2015

Solicitation reminders from Doylestown Borough
Realtors are reminded that a license is required to solicit and peddle in the Borough of Doylestown.Click here for a permit application. The Borough also maintains a Do-Not-Sell list that prohibits all soliciting and peddling by a licensee at such an address. Canvassers are prohibited when a sign is posted on the property prohibiting canvassing. Please note that the borough encourages residents who are on the Do-Not-Sell list to contact the regional police department if a solicitor or peddler has violated the borough ordinance. For more information, visithttp://www.doylestownborough.net/resident-eservices/preventsoliciting.

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: Realtor.org; 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, www.crsd.org. 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, visitwww.bchumanrelations.org.
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

News this week…

Information obtained from Suburban Realtors  Alliance

Bucks County

Census: Bucks County added 229 people last year
According to figures recently released by the federal government, Bucks County added just 229 residents in 2014. Over a four-year period ending in July 2014, the county’s population increased just 0.6 percent. Bucks County once averaged 7,818 new residents per year, according to the U.S. Census. Posted online at Factfinder.Census.Gov, the new figures were linked to birth and death records compiled by the National Institutes of Health, Internal Revenue Service tax returns and federal immigration data. The first Census of Bucks County was conducted by the federal government in 1790 with a recorded population of 25,401 persons. Between 1950 and 2010, Bucks County’s population went from 144,620 to 625,326 persons – a population increase of more than 332 percent.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 4/5/2015

Single-family housing plan moves forward in Upper Southampton
Construction could begin next month on a development of 28 upscale single-family homes at the site of the former Stackpole School in Upper Southampton Township. The board of supervisors approved an amended final subdivision plan for Mill Creek Estates. The amended plan was due to the developer’s inability to secure easements for off-site drainage system improvements to address an existing off-site problem. The lack of off-site improvements will only impact the two homeowners who decided against granting the easements, according to the developer County Builders. The homes will each be about 3,000 square feet with two floors and a basement. The cost is estimated to be about $500,000 each and construction is estimated to take up to 2 ½ years.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 4/7/2015

Sen. Mensch, Rep. Simmons, to hold open house on April 11
State Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24th), will host an open house 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at his new Upper Perkiomen Valley district office on the second floor of the Red Hill Borough municipal building, 56 W. Fourth St. Mensch, whose district includes parts of Montgomery, Bucks and Berks counties, shares the office with state Rep. Justin Simmons (R-131st), whose district includes parts of Montgomery, Lehigh and Northampton counties. “The open house is an opportunity for residents to tour the new office, chat with me and my staff and Representative Simmons and his staff about the issues important to our district, as well as learn more about the wide variety of legislative services available through the office,” Mensch said in a statement. Visit www.senatormensch.com for more information.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 4/7/2015

Bristol Borough to hear proposal for former Mill Run property in May
Dallas Properties LLC is looking to buy the former Mill Run property, which used to be an assisted living facility, at Wilson Avenue and Pond Street in Bristol Borough. Tilak Singh, project manager for Dallas Properties, said that a proposal will be presented to Bristol’s council in May. According to Singh, the project will be mixed-use, and could include a physical therapy rehabilitation center and other medical uses as well as housing an elder care facility. The sale agreement is contingent upon a phased-in tax arrangement – a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance known as LERTA. It would provide some tax relief for the developer, but also give immediate tax revenue to the borough and the Bristol Borough School District, with increases each subsequent year. The tax arrangement must be approved by the borough and the school district. After the concept presentation in May, a final land development plan will be due in July. Councilman Greg Pezza said the council had three goals from the outset of its talks with Dallas Properties: to protect neighboring property owners from blight; to restore a much needed tax ratable to the borough and the school district; and to provide scores of job opportunities to borough residents. “We are now in a position to meet all three goals,” Pezza said.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 3/30/2015

 

Montgomery County

Lower Providence mulls banning apartments in Ridge Pike West overlay district
A proposed revision in the Ridge Pike West overlay district would remove multifamily housing from the permitted uses, effectively banning new apartment buildings along Ridge Pike in the western section of Lower Providence Township. Meredith Curran, a community planner for the Montgomery County Planning Commission, explained the proposed zoning changes to the board of supervisors recently. “This is from Evansburg State Park to Perkiomen Creek. The changes could allow more commercial uses,” Curran said. “Multifamily uses would be eliminated as a permitted or conditional use. The proposed setback of 10 feet would be increased to a maximum of 25 feet including a mandatory 6-foot sidewalk and a 4-foot planting strip.” Curran said that Ridge Pike is a fast-moving roadway that would benefit from more landscaping in front of commercial stores. The proposed zoning changes may be scheduled for a public hearing in May.
Source: Times Herald; 4/6/2015

County sells land to East Norriton for trail
Montgomery County commissioners approved the sale of five parcels of land held in the county’s repository to East Norriton Township for $5. It is hoped that the empty lots will be turned into part of a trail that will eventually connect to trails in Plymouth Township and Norristown. Repository properties are those that have gone unsold at tax sales through the county. According to County Treasurer Jason Salus, the five parcels are along Sawmill Creek, an area where East Norriton has focused on obtaining other parcels of land for a pedestrian trail. The parcels of land are all in the flood plain and not big enough to be developed, Salus said. Commissioners’ Chairman Josh Shapiro commended Salus for finding a use for the land and getting the land off the repository.
Source: Times Herald; 4/7/2015

Upper Gwynedd, Towamencin ratify UGTMA withdrawal
The 50-year charter for the Upper Gwynedd-Towamencin Municipal Authority (UGTMA) was originally set to expire in the summer of 2014, but several extensions have been approved since then as all parties worked out new bylaws and a customer service agreement detailing a new arrangement. The changes to UGTMA articles of incorporation that will turn Upper Gywnedd from a co-owner to a customer of the authority will be on the agenda as all three parties meet to formalize Upper Gwynedd’s departure. The departure has been in the works for several years, as Upper Gwynedd plans to divert wastewater from the shared treatment plant on Kriebel Road in Towamencin to its own plant on Township Line road in Upper Gwynedd. Terms of the agreements include annual payments by Upper Gwynedd to the authority for treatment of wastewater it will still send there until new sewer lines and pump stations are built, and a one-time $4 million payment from Towamencin to Upper Gwynedd in exchange. The amendments to UGTMA’s articles of incorporation will change the name to “Towamencin Municipal Authority,” change its board of directors from the current six members (three from each township) to five from Towamencin, and establish the term of existence of the authority to run through June 30, 2065.
Source: The Reporter; 4/5/2015

Lower Merion Township names new CFO
Lower Merion Township has appointed Eric M. Traub as its new chief financial officer. Traub will oversee a 15-person Finance Department and manage a $60.4 million operating budget and a $44 million capital budget for 2015. He will also handle audits, accounting, debt service, and long-term financial planning, as well as advising the commissioners on financial policies. Lower Merion’s “fiscal reputation is second to none, and I look forward to building upon its strong foundation,” Traub said in a statement. Traub will replace Dean Dortone, who left in December to take a job with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 4/9/2015

Bucks County News…

This information was obtained from the Suburban Realtors Alliance...

Warrington homeowners concerned with high-density zoning

Residents from Muirfield Estates in Warrington recently voiced objections to the board of supervisors over a preliminary proposal to amend the 3-acre minimum lot size requirement in the RA zone on a neighboring 50-acre property. The proposal would amend the 3-acre minimum lot size requirement in the RA zone to allow five single-family houses to be built on an acre. The owner of the property, John Pileggi Jr., presented his preliminary plans to township planners but there is no proposal before the board of supervisors. Supervisor Chairman Gerald Anderson said the planning commission is updating the township’s comprehensive plan, which sets guidelines for future development, and would review the RA zoning to see whether to recommend any changes to the supervisors. “We have to look at the cluster option,” Anderson said. This provision allows a developer to build houses closer together in exchange for preserving open space on the rest of the tract. Nearby residents are concerned that other landowners in the RA zone would seek the same exception and also want to maintain the semi-rural aspect of their neighborhood. A public hearing would be held before Warrington could act on any proposed changes.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 3/25/2015

Pennsylvania DEP hears complaints about Tullytown landfill
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently held a public hearing to help investigate complaints about odors coming from a Tullytown landfill operated by Waste Management. Most of the odor complaints come from New Jersey residents on the other side of the Delaware River from the landfill. Residents also complained about the hundreds of sea gulls that congregate on either side of the river and the long line of dump trucks that they say begin arriving at the site before dawn. Several people had positive things to say about the trash disposal company and its support of the community. Waste Management is trying to renew its operating permit for the facility off Bordentown Road; the current permit expires May 23. The DEP will accept written comments about the landfill permit renewal through April 10. Comments should be sent to Regional Solid Waste Manager, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 2 E. Main St., Norristown, PA 19401.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 3/25/2015

Dublin reviews new option for historical preservation
As part of the Dublin Borough Revitalization and Visioning Plan, borough council members originally took steps to create a historic district under the state’s Historic District Act 167. At the March 23 borough council meeting, Cory Kegerise, of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, told council that they have another option. According to Kegerise, if Dublin adopted a municipalities planning code, it could protect the borough’s history by creating a zoning overlay. Members of the zoning board would not need to meet professional requirements, like they would on a Historical Architectural Review Board. “This may provide you with more flexibility,” Kegerise said of the municipalities planning code. He explained that no municipalities in Bucks County use the municipalities planning code, but it is common in Montgomery, Chester and Lancaster counties. Council members told Kegerise to review the proposed historic guidelines and then council will decide whether to continue with the Historic District Act or consider the adoption of the municipalities planning code.
Source: Perkasie News Herald; 3/24/2015

Quakertown to team with county on parking survey
As part of its economic revitalization plan, Quakertown Borough is eyeing changes to the traffic flow and parking in the heart of Quakertown. At a recent work session, Quakertown Borough Council discussed partnering with Bucks County to conduct a parking inventory aimed at maximizing customer parking spaces available for commercial and retail businesses. The Bucks County Planning Commission would conduct the parking inventory at no cost to taxpayers and would look only at the commercial downtown area and not the nearby residential streets as a source for customer parking, said Quakertown’s Economic Redevelopment Consultant Ed Scholl. The parking inventory will also identify what spaces are publicly or privately owned; analyze each business to determine the number of parking spaces needed based on the type of business; and take into consideration lighting for nighttime parking, directional signs to parking areas and pedestrian accessibility. Officials are preparing for the new Gateway building, which will be constructed on what is now the triangle parking lot. The rectangular piece of ground adjacent to Triangle Park divides busy Route 313 and serves as customer parking for many of the downtown businesses. Council will vote on April 1 to authorize the parking study.
Source: The Intelligencer; 3/24/2015

FREE Home Buyer Seminar

The Vickie Landis Team has found by talking with our clients is that there is an extraordinary need for education with regards to First Time home buyers. So what we have decided to do is create a forum where people can come and learn more about the first time home buyers experience.

When: Wednesday, April 1st 2015

Time: 6 pm – 8 pm

Where: McCoole’s Arts and Events Place

10 Main St. Quakertown PA 18951

 

Due to the fact that this is an exclusive event, we can only invite a small number of people. Please RSVP your attendance to 267-733-0777 as soon as possible or email us at TheVickieLandisTeam@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

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: NPR.org; 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: Realtor.org; 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 atsra@suburbanrealtorsalliance.com.  

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