This update includes good news on issues such as rental licensing and metro district disclosures. Those public policy victories didn’t just happen. Hard work was needed by members of the real estate industry and their allies.
As a reminder, ballots for the April municipal elections were mailed this week for statutory towns like Berthoud, Eaton, Erie, Timnath, Wellington, Milliken, Windsor, and Johnstown.
Regional Government Director
No On Rental Licensing: On March 8 the City Council ended months of angst for landlords and property managers on March 8 when it decided not to pursue rental licensing. Reviewing the results of a survey done last summer in which 74 percent of resident respondents voiced opposition to the concept was enough to convince the Council that rental licensing was unnecessary.
It was clear from the beginning that landlords, both those with multiple properties and those who rent only one home, did not support the idea. However, the survey also showed many tenants viewed the idea of inspections as a violation of their privacy. Both landlords and tenants expressed concern licensing would increase rental costs for tenants.
Some councilors, like Marcia Martin, initially supported the idea to get more data on how many people rent homes in Longmont. But she changed her mind early in the process. Martin argued that the City’s existing programs for tenant protection work well. Mayor Joan Peck was visibly disappointed. She continued to articulate her belief that tenants were too fearful to speak up in support of licensing. Saying there needed to be equity for tenants Peck argued, “If we are really an inclusive community, we need support for tenants just like landlord alliance.”
After a long discussion, the Council voted unanimously to table rental licensing. A second motion for a Council presentation on “advocacy support” for tenants also passed.
Council Vacancy Will Be Filled in November: The Longmont City Council has decided to leave a vacant seat on Council until the November 8 general election. A special election to fill the seat left vacant by Joan Peck’s election as Mayor last November would cost $390,000. As Mayor Peck noted, none of the Council’s decisions since her election have resulted in tie votes, so leaving the seat vacant a few more months wouldn’t impair public policy decision-making.
Fire Victims Getting a Break on Building Codes: After a long public hearing, the Louisville City Council reluctantly decided to allow owners of destroyed and damaged homes to build to Louisville’s Energy Code that was in place prior to November 2021. This code is often referred to as the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code. Many affected homeowners had begged for that option. As one homeowner said, “It’s a matter of economics. We want to build to the highest level of energy efficiency, but we can’t afford to do it.”
There was considerable debate about what compliance with the newer 2021 International Energy Conservation Code would cost. The City, using estimates from Group 14 Engineering, estimated it would cost a minimum of $19,867 extra for a 2,200-square-foot home. The City would also negotiate discounts on some relevant products (like heat pumps) to reduce that cost further. However, according to the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver, the 2021 codes would add $77,000 to rebuilding cost.
In the end, the pressure put on the City Council by impacted homeowners, who held rallies that were covered by the media, turned the tide. The issue became politicized by the former Mayor of Boulder and current Colorado Energy Office’ Executive Director, Will Toor, and others, who urged the Council to adhere to 2021 codes in the name of climate protection.
The Council will begin the public hearing process on March 15, with the final public hearing on April 5. Superior’s town council already decided to offer the same grace to affected homeowners in that town. Superior will also provide rebates on building permits and fees for Marshall Fire victims.
East Mulberry Plan: City staff gave an update on the East Mulberry Plan, with an annexation decision on the 3-square mile parcel possible by end of the year. However, the future of the annexation appears uncertain. Some councilors want to see a benefit to annexation for the citizens of Fort Collins.
Councilor Julie Pignataro insinuated that perhaps Larimer County wanted to dump the parcel on Fort Collins and said the city shouldn’t annex it if that is the case. Councilor Kelly Ohlson, who has already expressed his opposition to the plan, said, “Why would we want to do this to ourselves?”
The East Mulberry enclave was formed in 2018. The City has an agreement with Larimer County that states an enclave will be pursued when it becomes eligible. East Mulberry became eligible in 2021. East Mulberry is mostly commercial and industrial, with very few homes.
Metro District Disclosure on Hold: After an executive session on March 8, the Loveland City Council decided not to proceed with an ordinance intended to provide more disclosure for home buyers in metropolitan districts. City Attorney Moses Garcia wrote, “After a review of legal considerations, City Council is postponing consideration of the ordinance in order to determine how effectively the recent state legislation regarding metropolitan districts, the proposed MLS disclosures by the local realtors’ (sic) association, and the potential changes to the Seller’s Property Disclosure form inform potential purchasers of homes within metropolitan districts.”
The draft ordinance would have created liability for home sellers and listing brokers if a signed disclosure form was not provided to buyers. The Loveland-Berthoud Association of REALTORS® had a list of objections to the ordinance, and sought the assistance of Scott Peterson, General Counsel for the Colorado Association of REALTORS®. Peterson gave City staff an overview of the Colorado Contract to Buy and Sell Residential Real Estate to illustrate buyer protections inherent in the contract timeline before the executive session.
IRES added new required listing fields for metro district homes in late January 2022. For more information, see: https://ires-net.com/2022/01/26/metro-district-field-expansion/.
The LBAR Metro District Task Force (Renae Hupp, Michelle Jacobs, Gary Maggi and David Powell) worked tirelessly on this issue for months.
Endorsements in Berthoud Election: The Loveland-Berthoud Association of REALTORS® interviewed the Berthoud trustee candidates and asked them real estate-related questions in early March. After consideration, LBAR supports three candidates for the three available seats: Ryan Berry, Alex Johnson, and Sean Murphy.
COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Legislative Update: The legislative session has reached its halfway point, but many key bills of interest to real estate have been introduced slowly with many still on hold. Why? No one knows for sure, but it appears there will be a rush to introduce bills moving forward. The last day of the 2022 session is May 11.
NAR Priorities In $1.5 Trillion Spending Package: Congress passed a long-awaited bill March 10 to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature. The $1.5 trillion bipartisan package keeps the government running through Sept. 30 and includes money for priorities the National Association of REALTORS® supports, such as housing programs, rural broadband, and surface transportation projects. The bill also reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program.
Since last October, the government has relied on a series of short-term funding extensions while Congress worked toward a long-term deal. Some highlights of NAR priorities in the bill include:
- Flood insurance: Extends the NFIP through Sept. 30 and provides significant funding for communities to respond to and mitigate the impacts of future disasters, with $276 million for flood mapping.
- Broadband: Includes more than $550 million to expand rural broadband services on top of broadband funding included in the American Rescue Plan and bipartisan infrastructure bill last year.
- Fair housing: Contains $85 million for fair housing activities, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program, Fair Housing Assistance Program, and National Fair Housing Training Academy.
- Violence Against Women Act: Reauthorizes this legislation and establishes the Violence Prevention Office at HUD. NAR was part of the original group of housing industry supporters that helped craft the housing provisions of the bill.
- Transportation: Provides the remaining funding to implement programs and spending in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which was passed in November.
NAR’s policy team continues to analyze the 2,700-page bill and will offer further insight in the coming days.