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The Suburban Realtors® Alliance hosted a webinar — "Legislative Update: Reopening Real Estate in Pennsylvania" — on Friday, May 15, 2020. Watch it below:
The discussion covered efforts in the state House and Senate to reopen real estate throughout Pennsylvania, with a focus on House Bill 2412. The bill would to allow real estate service providers to be designated as a life-sustaining industry and resume working with safety precautions.
Jamie Ridge, SRA CEO/president, facilitated the conversation. Panelists included:
• State Sen. Tom Killion (9th District/Chester and Delaware counties)
• Mike McGee (PAR CEO)
• State Rep. Todd Polinchock (144th District/Bucks County)
• Jamie Ridge (SRA president/CEO)
The Suburban Realtors® Alliance and the Bucks County Association of Realtors® hosted a webinar — "State of Bucks County: An Update for Realtors®" — on Friday, May 1, 2020. Watch it below:
Bucks County leaders provided an update on how the county is operating during the coronavirus outbreak.
BCAR executive Pam Croke and SRA CEO/president Jamie Ridge facilitated the conversation. Panelists included:
Commissioners Chair Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia (@ 2:30)
Commissioners Co-chair Robert J. Harvie Jr. (@ 9:20)
Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo (@ 15:10)
Recorder of Deeds Robin Robinson (@31:50)
The Suburban Realtors® Alliance hosted a virtual town hall on Friday, April 24, to provide legislative updates at the local, state and federal levels. Watch it below:
The town hall was conducted as a Zoom webinar and focused on efforts to protect and support real estate during the coronavirus outbreak.
April 10, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Pete Kennedy, 610-981-9000, email@example.com
UPPER DARBY, Pa. — The Suburban Realtors® Alliance (SRA) is urging Upper Darby Township Council to table a proposed ordinance that would require residents to perform costly sewer inspections and repairs when they sell their homes.
Draft Ordinance 3070, which is set for a council vote during an online meeting on April 15, would require home sellers to have a plumber inspect their sewer laterals — the pipes that carry sewage from homes to sewer mains under the street. The proposal is being considered at a time when the township has closed its offices to the public and drastically changed its public meeting procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The idea of introducing such an ineffective, but very expensive point-of-sale inspection during an unprecedented pandemic and financial crisis is mind-boggling,” said Jamie Ridge, SRA president/CEO. “Why rush through this major piece of legislation when there are obstacles to public engagement? Why add a new burden on home owners who are already worried about their income and upcoming mortgage payments?”
What's wrong with Upper Darby Draft Ordinance 3070?
• Home sales become more costly and difficult
• Ineffective at goal of preventing sewer infiltration
• Shouldn't be rushed through in health crisis
The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records advisory on coronavirus says, “To the extent that agenda items can be delayed until in-person meetings can resume, it’s a good idea to do so.” The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association says, “What can happen in the ordinary course of business should happen in the ordinary course of business with full and complete transparency after the emergency has ended.” The Pennsylvania State Association of Townships says, “if the township does not have business that it needs to conduct, then PSATS believes that it would be appropriate under these emergency circumstances to cancel or postpone the meeting.”
The proposed ordinance could deliver a devastating blow to an Upper Darby real estate market already troubled by extremely high local property taxes that have depressed the value of homes compared to neighboring communities. Typical sewer lateral inspections cost hundreds of dollars, and needed repairs can run into many of thousands of dollars.
“Point-of-sale inspections are also a wholly ineffective method of addressing the serious issue the township wants to fix — infiltration of fresh water into the municipal sewer system,” Ridge said. “By only inspecting approximately 1-2% of sewer laterals each year, it will take Upper Darby more than four decades to stop the infiltration of fresh water into the system via residential laterals.”
SRA Letter to Upper Darby Council
A smarter, more cost-effective plan would be to first determine whether the issue is being created by problems in the main sewer lines, Ridge said.
The SRA previously submitted comments to Upper Darby Council on portions of the draft ordinance that would violate Pennsylvania Act 133 of 2016. Ridge said that while those legal issues have been addressed, the SRA is strongly encouraging the council to table the proposed ordinance entirely until the state of emergency has been lifted and a more comprehensive solution can be designed with proper opportunities for public comment.
About Suburban Realtors® Alliance
The Suburban Realtors® Alliance is a subsidiary of the three largest local Realtor® associations in Pennsylvania: the Bucks County, Montgomery County and Suburban West associations of Realtors®. Between its three shareholder associations, the Alliance serves more than 12,000 members. For more information, visit www.suburbanrealtorsalliance.com.
The coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak is causing municipal and county government offices to drastically reduce their operations — affecting local code inspection processes and county recorder of deeds offices. At the Suburban Realtors® Alliance, we're working to minimize the impact of these changes on Realtors® and their clients who are involved in property transfers.
Because municipalities have different regulations and are reacting to the public health emergency in different ways, each case is unique. If you're involved in a transaction being held up by a municipal closure, your best sources for guidance right now are your company’s broker and counsel, as well as suggesting that sellers and buyers consult with their personal attorneys.
What Realtors® should know:
Below are resources for more information about how coronavirus is affecting real estate in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Jump to a section of this page:
How the pandemic is affecting Realtors® and real estate
5/15 — Watch: 'Legislative Update: Reopening Real Estate in Pennsylvania' (SRA Video)
5/1 — Watch: 'State of Bucks County: An Update for Realtors' (SRA/BCAR Video)
4/29 — PA real estate market adapts to COVID-19 (ft. SWRA Chairman Kit Antsey) (6ABC)
4/28 — Your Guide to PUA Benefits (NAR)
4/24 — Watch: SRA Hosts Legislative Town Hall with NAR, PAR (SRA Video)
4/24 — Wolf outlines three-step reopening plan; real estate returns in ‘yellow’ phase (SRA news brief)
4/24 — Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application available online (PA Dept. of Labor & Industry)
4/17 — Killion legislation would halt business evictions and foreclosures (Daily Local News)
4/16 — Rep. Polinchock introduces bill to allow safe real estate transactions (SRA news brief)
4/10 — PAR Advocates for Real Estate During Pandemic (PAR)
3/30 — Thanks to new affidavit, Aston can continue use and occupancy inspections (SRA news brief)
3/26 — No deed, no deal: Pa. real estate industry stymied by move online (Inquirer)
3/19 — COVID-19 Addendum Available for Use (PAR)
3/17 — As Local Governments Close, What Happens to Property Sales? (SRA Blog Post)
Questions we're hearing from Realtors about this situation.
Is Act 133 still in effect during the coronavirus outbreak?
Yes — if you have a property that was previously inspected, the municipality must issue at least a temporary access permit, allowing buyers of homes deemed “unfit for habitation” to access the building (without residing in it), and make substantial repairs within 12 months. It may also issue a normal use and occupancy permit (U&O) or a temporary U&O permit. Read more about Act 133 and the three types of resale permits here.
What have you heard about ____________ township?
We have been in contact with most boroughs, townships and cities in our coverage area, but the circumstances have been constantly evolving. We ask our members to contact us with issues in specific municipalities. For municipalities that have offered new formal processes for the state of emergency, e.g. those that have created new affidavits, we have updated our municipal database accordingly.
We have confirmed that recorders of deeds in Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties will accept online notarizations in compliance with Gov. Wolf’s temporary order. Those offices also have web-based systems for e-filing and in some cases have waived fees for those services.
The Delaware County Recorder of Deeds does not currently have a web-based system for e-filing and has not responded to our inquiries regarding online notarizations.
How is the outbreak affecting the Delaware County comprehensive reassessment project?
According to the county's project website:
"[A]ll informal property reviews with Tyler Technologies will be conducted by telephone. ... Tyler Technologies will be calling you within an hour of that scheduled time to conduct your informal hearing by phone. ... YOUR PHONE LINE MUST ALLOW CALLS FROM PRIVATE NUMBERS OR WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO REACH YOU."
Where to find the latest information about the coronavirus outbreak.
PAR: The PA Association of Realtors has an indispensable information page with daily updates.
NAR: The National Association of Realtors page has been tracking federal relief packages and other topics.
BCAR: Important information for Realtors® in Bucks County.
MCAR: Important information for Realtors® in Montgomery County.
SWRA: Important information for Realtors® in Chester and Delaware counties and on the Main Line.
We want to hear about your experiences — good and bad — in working with municipalities.
Phone: 610-981-9000 (The SRA office is closed, but we are checking messages regularly.)
Here's a sampling of what we've been hearing from members since the coronavirus hit our region:
"I have a closing scheduled on March 25, but we need a re-inspection and the borough office just closed."
"The township just told me they are not conducting U & O inspections."
"Since they won't inspect, they want my buyer to sign a waiver saying she'll be responsible for any repairs they require after the sale."
Here are examples of municipalities finding a way to get the job done, even during the crisis:
“We are continuing with external inspections of properties, but we would love to see pictures if possible for the smoke detectors, fire extinguisher, hand rails and relief valve on the water heater. If needed, we will issue a conditional U&O for the property.”
“We are continuing our inspections, but will only enter buildings if they are unoccupied in an effort to protect our staff and avoid spreading the virus.”
Many municipal government offices have shut down or drastically reduced their operations during the public health emergency that is the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. Where does that leave Realtors® and their clients? Because municipalities have different regulations and are reacting to the public health emergency in different ways, each case is unique. If you're involved in a transaction being held up by a municipal closure, your best sources for guidance right now are your company’s broker and counsel, as well as suggesting that sellers and buyers consult with their personal attorneys.
The Alliance has been in contact with individual municipalities when a settlement issue has been brought to our attention (with mixed success), and we are actively coordinating with the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® to find a broader solution to this unprecedented situation.
Here's what we know:
Municipalities can't do use and occupancy inspections if their codes departments are shuttered.
That leaves several possibilities that we have heard:
Of course, municipal inspections are just one part of the more complex process of buying or selling a property, and other areas may be similarly affected by the ongoing public health emergency. We will continue to coordinate with our leadership, our shareholders and the state association to find resolutions for these issues.
Please continue to keep us informed about your experiences with local, county and state government during the coronavirus outbreak. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear SRA members,
In response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak in our region, the Suburban Realtors® Alliance office in Malvern is temporarily closed, but our work continues uninterrupted.
Alliance staff are working remotely, starting this week through the end of March. We continue to monitor the news and legal notices for any issues that could affect the members of our three shareholder associations. Our municipal database remains online. We are in contact with government officials to ensure necessary public health measures cause as little disruption to real estate as possible.
Stay in touch.
As always, our Realtor® members are a vital source of on-the-ground information. Please continue to contact us with any questions, concerns or issues you’re experiencing. We are responding promptly to messages sent via email and phone.
As this outbreak progresses, we will send updates as necessary. In the meantime, we encourage you to utilize these sources of information.
Delaware County is reassessing all 200,000 residential and commercial properties within its borders.
The county is working to determine the market value of each property, which will be used to calculate real estate taxes starting in 2021.
Coronavirus update: All informal hearings will be conducted by telephone. Read more here on the county project website.
Why is the comprehensive reassessment happening?
The countywide reassessment is the result of a court order.
Two families who purchased homes in Rose Valley Borough and Haverford Township in 2014 found their tax assessments to be too high. They challenged the county’s assessment process in court, and won.
The judge who heard their petitions — Judge Charles B. Burr of the Delaware County Common Pleas Court — determined that property assessments in the county were so inconsistent that they violated the state constitution.
In 2017, the judge ordered the county to reassess all properties within its borders.
The goal of the reassessment is to determine accurate values of all properties in the county, so that owners are paying a fair amount of property tax and the tax burden is distributed equitably across all taxpayers.
What is the reassessment timeline?
February - March 2020: New 'tentative assessment' notices mailed out
On Feb. 14, the county began sending out notices of new tentative property assessment values to property owners. The notices will go out in four batches. To find out when each municipality is scheduled to receive notices, view the mailing schedule.
Owners who feel their new assessments are too high — meaning they could not sell their property at that price — can request an informal review meeting via the Tyler Technologies website, but they must do so within 10 days of the date on the notice. Otherwise, they can go through the formal hearing process.
March 2 - May 15, 2020: Informal review hearings
During informal reviews, property owners meet with representatives from Tyler Technologies. Property owners should bring any documentation, including comps and photos, to support their claim that their assessment is too high.
July 2020: New assessments mailed
The county will mail out new assessed values to property owners, reflecting any updates from the informal hearings.
July - October 2020: Formal appeals period
The county Tax Assessment Appeals Board will hold formal assessment appeal hearings with property owners whose disputes were not resolved in the informal hearings.
Due to an expected high number of appeals, the county is looking for residents to serve as Auxiliary Tax Assessment Appeals Board Members. Applicants must live in Delaware County and cannot be an active property assessor. Selected applicants will receive a six-hour training and be paid $200 a day. For more information, read the county press release (PDF).
Jan 2021: New assessments take effect
New assessment values become effective for tax year 2021.
Other important points to know about the reassessment:
Click a bullet point below to expand.
The county will not be able to collect more revenue based on the assessment.
The same is true for other local taxing entities, i.e. the municipality and school district.
Tax rates are likely to change when the assessment is complete, in some cases substantially. Here's why:
According to an analysis by the Philadelphia Inquirer, about one-third of homeowners will see their assessments rise, one-third will see their assessments decrease, and the remaining one-third won’t see a significant change. But here’s the catch — according to that analysis, the over- and underassessed homes tend to be clustered. The bulk of property taxes are levied by the school district, so if nearly all the homes in a district receive lower assessments but the district needs to collect roughly the same revenue as the previous year, the tax millage rate will simply increase.
Put simply — if your assessment goes up, but all your neighbors' assessments do, too, the tax millage rate will be lowered, because the assessment must be revenue neutral overall.
There will certainly be many homeowners who see significant changes in their tax bills, but it’s important that homeowners and Realtors® exercise caution before making assumptions about how the countywide reassessment could impact tax bills.
Delaware County is currently seeking qualified professionals to preside over the formal tax reassessment hearings to be held the summer and fall of 2020. Selected applicants will be appointed to an Auxiliary Tax Assessment Appeals Board.
The hearings will begin in July 2020 and continue for approximately eight to 10 weeks. Applicants must live in Delaware County and cannot be active property assessors. Selected applicants will receive a six-hour training prior to hearings.
Auxiliary Tax Assessment Appeals Board members will be paid $200 a day for days they preside over hearings. Application details can be found here.
Ideally, homes are assessed at 100% of their market values. That’s what happens immediately after a countywide reassessment.
But assessment values become inaccurate over time as the real estate market changes. To keep new assessments in line with old ones, the PA Department of Revenue sets a Common Level Ratio factor for each county every July.
In 2020, a property assessment in Delaware County was supposed to equal about 56.5% of the market value.
Read more in this SRA blog post: What is an accurate property assessment?
According to Suburban West Realtors® Association:
Paragraph 17 of the Agreement of Sale, “Real Estate Taxes and Assessed Value,” provides notice to buyers about the possibility and effect of re-assessment or appeal of current assessment. Buyer agents should use the opportunity presented by this paragraph to alert potential buyers about any known re-assessment prior to the buyer executing the agreement of sale.
Article 2 of the Code of Ethics requires Realtors® to avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation or concealment of pertinent facts about the property or the transaction. If the buyer has questions or concerns, the buyer agent can direct the client to available resources.
Read more on the Suburban West website: Agreement of Sale and Assessed Value (PDF).
The county has said it will be very strict regarding the 10-day deadline.
However, you will still be able to file a formal appeal with the Board of Assessment Appeals. According to the Assessment Appeal FAQ on the county website, there are three ways to request an appeal form:
Annual Appeal forms are available from March 15th to August 1st
Calling the Assessment Office at (610) 891-4879
Visiting the office 201 West Front Street, Media, Pa. 19063.
Downloading the form by clicking on the appropriate link
One-page flyer and other resources:
SRA: View a one-page overview flyer (PDF).
SRA: What is an accurate property assessment?
SWRA: Information about the Agreement of Sale and Assessed Value (PDF) from Suburban West Realtors® Association.
Delaware County: Visit the Delaware County Reassessment Project website.
Still have questions about the reassessment?
Contact the Delaware County Tax Assessment office (610-891-4879) or the county's consultant on the reassessment project, Tyler Technologies: (610-891-5695).
|The information on this page is provided as a general summary of the reassessment project. It is not intended to take the place of written law, county or municipal regulations, or information that can be obtained directly from the county or its affiliates.|