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Government Affairs Monthly Report

09-1-2019

The Steamboat Springs City Council reclent directed city staff to pursue an ordinance eliminating excise taxes and permit fees for solar installations.

The city collected less than $5,000 in excise taxes in the last two years. The city charges a 1.2% excise tax on construction in city limits, which is levied on the construction value. Permit fees for solar installation are regulated by the state and are set at $500 for residential installations and $1,000 for non-residential installations. With nine solar permits issued in the last two years, revenue from these fees was between $4,500 to $9,000.

Citizens who spoke at the meeting were receptive to the idea, saying that removing the excise tax and permit fees "would remove some of the barriers" and might increase the number of co-op members pursuing installation.

City Council members were receptive to the proposed ordinance.

"This is one more thing, although small, to move forward with to show the community that we want to be a little bit more green," said Council Member Robin Crossan.

"And it could be more impactful in the future," Council President Jason Lacy added.

An ordinance adopting the policy is currently scheduled to go before the council on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

September is RPAC Month Statewide

September is RPAC Month here in Colorado and now is the best time to take action. As a proud REALTOR® of the Aspen Board of REALTORS®, fellow members sometimes ask me what exactly is the REALTOR® Political Action Committee (RPAC)? Why do I invest?
The answers are simple and to the point. Being an investor in RPAC is our best way to:

  • Stop legislation that would increase your taxes
  • Prevent new burdensome regulations on your business
  • Promote the real estate industry
  • Protect private property rights
  • Preserve the American dream of property ownership

When REALTORS® come together we have a powerful voice. We must advocate for elected officials in our area and across the state who will listen to our needs and understand the importance of legislation and regulations that will promote the real estate industry for everyone.

RPAC is funded and directed entirely by members through voluntary contributions. Investing in RPAC may be the best investment you can make in your business this year.
Don’t forget – every $25 RPAC Investment you make is an entry into our RPAC Summer Participation Campaign. We are giving away one $200 gift card every Friday and a grand prize of a $1,000 Southwest Airlines gift card!
It’s easy to invest simply by going to www.coloradorealtors.com, log in, and click the RPAC button.

CAR 2019 Legislative Review Available Online

To catch up on some of the top legislative items for the real estate industry during the 2019 legislative session, CAR members can access the 2019 Legislative Review provided by the CAR Government Affairs Division at https://www.coloradorealtors.com/political-advocacy/legislation.

CAR Key Contacts Program

To assist CAR’s legislative advocacy efforts, CAR has created a grasstops lobbyist network to establish one REALTOR® as a Key Contact for each Colorado State Legislator. Key Contacts will be activated and called upon at strategic moments to help influence state legislators on issues impacting the Colorado Association of REALTORS®. Apply today: https://www.coloradorealtors.com/key-contacts.

CSFS Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program (Applications due Oct. 23, 2019 at 5 p.m.)

The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) is accepting Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation grant applications to fund community projects that reduce wildfire risk to property and infrastructure. The grant is for people and property located in wildland urban interface areas. The maximum amount applicants can apply for is $250,000. Groups must provide a 50% match in cash or services. Eligible applicants include local community groups, such as HOA’s, local government entities, public and private utilities, state agencies, and nonprofit groups. More information: https://csfs.colostate.edu/funding-assistance


Federal Regulators Issue Warning About Non-Conventional Loans Growing in Popularity

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is instructing banks to maintain tight underwriting standards for a type of unconventional mortgage that focuses on a borrower’s assets. The federal regulator is warning that asset-depletion loans—or asset dissipation loans—are a growing subset within subprime lending. The loans allow borrowers to draw from assets, rather than just their income, to cover a mortgage.

These loans are created for people who don’t receive conventional paychecks, such as retirees or the self-employed who receive short-term assignments. They were initially targeted at high-net-worth individuals, but the loans have recently been available to a broader set of borrowers, the OCC warns.

"As banks have expanded [asset-depletion underwriting] to qualify other applicants, examiners have noted weaknesses in policies and practices," Richard Taf, OCC’s top credit-risk official, said in a statement. He urged banks to "develop and implement policies, processes, and control systems in a manner consistent with safe and sound banking practices."

The OCC is urging lenders to tighten underwriting standards for these types of loans and to ensure that they don’t overestimate borrowers’ ability to draw from their assets in paying the mortgage. The OCC regulates national banks.

"It’s a bit of a warning to banks," Kris Kully, a Mayer Brown LLP partner, told The Wall Street Journal about the OCC’s latest warning. "We understand that this type of underwriting can be reasonable, but don’t forget that you need to dot your i’s and cross your t’s."

In the second quarter, lenders issued $12 billion in unconventional loans, up 9% from a year ago, according to Inside Mortgage Finance.