By Bob Goldberg, Senior Vice President, National Association of REALTORS
Buying health insurance is often a daunting task leaving individuals and small businesses feeling lost and confused. This confusion has been intensified, now that the Affordable Care Act mandates everyone has to have insurance in 2014. Members have turned to the National Association of REALTORS looking for help and guidance, and wondering where to begin and what NAR has to offer.
I’m pleased to announce a new health care awareness initiative driven by NAR. This initiative brings information and knowledge to members in an easy and accessible way. A new health insurance topic page has been created on REALTOR.org featuring:
- info graphics
- link to the Affordable Care Act website
- link to the REALTORS Insurance Marketplace, a REALTOR Benefits program supported by partner SASid (Smart and Simple Insurance Development)
Also, a live webinar will be presented on December 12 at 11:00am (CST). The webinar will provide an update on what’s happening in health insurance, responsibilities to comply with and options. It will also answer popular questions about the open-enrollment deadline and whether to use a private or public exchange. To register, simply click here.
Additionally, NAR has created an informative, one-page Fact Sheet outlining the health insurance awareness initiative and its benefits to members.
Congratulations to two Columbus commercial practitioners, James H. Coridan and Greg Hrabcak, for their inclusion in the National Association of REALTORS 2013 National Commercial Awards.
Coridan (right) was honored as the Ohio Association of REALTORS’ 2013 REALTOR of the Year in September. He is associated with Keller Williams Excel Realty and holds NAR’s SIOR (Society of Industrial and Office REALTORS) designation.
Hrabcak (far right) was elected as OAR’s 2014 President-elect during the organization’s Annual Convention & Expo. He is associated with HER REALTORS and holds NAR’s CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member).
By Carl Horst
Look for existing home sales to remain steady across the country in 2014, with median prices posting a healthy 6 percent gain, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS.
The forecast for unchanged sales activity follows a 20 percent increase over the past two years. The median home price has posted an 18 percent cumulative increase during the same two-year span.
One concern for the market is “the inevitable rise in mortgage rates” that will hinder affordability, Yun noted. 30-year rates, which have been below 6 percent for five years, are expected to tick upward to 5.3 percent by year-end 2014.
Yun, who unveiled his forecast during the organization’s recent Annual Conference in early November, offered insights into what buyers will be looking for throughout 2014, including:
Rising interest in condominium and apartment living than existed in 2011. The preference for single-family detached remains the top choice (76 percent this year, a slight decline from the 80 percent mark in 2011). Condos and apartments saw an increase to 14 percent (from 8 percent) and single-family attached housing was favored by 6 percent (from 7 percent two years ago).
Privacy, walkability and schools are key in deciding where to live. Topping the list of most important factors was privacy from neighbors (with 86 percent of buyers saying it was very or somewhat important). Other top choices of buyers: sidewalks and places to take walks (80 percent); high-quality public schools (74 percent); being within an easy walk of other places and things in the community (69 percent); easy access to the highway (68 percent); living in a community with people at all stages of life — adults, families with children and older people (66 percent); an established community with older homes and mature trees (65 percent); being within a short commute to work (65 percent); public transportation within walking distance of the home (59 percent); and living in a place that’s away from it all (55 percent).
By Peg Ritenour, OAR Vice President of Legal Services/Administration
Q: I am leasing a three bedroom house for an owner. A couple with four children — three boys and girl — looked at the house and are financially qualified to lease the property. However the property owner has a policy of only allowing two persons per bedroom and therefore won’t allow the three boys to share a room. Alternatively, the parents mentioned that their daughter may share a bedroom with one of their sons. The landlord doesn’t believe that arrangement is appropriate given the children’s ages. Does the landlord have to allow this or make an exception and permit the three boys to share a bedroom to avoid a fair housing violation?
A: Both Ohio and federal fair housing laws prohibit housing discrimination against families with children While a landlord can place reasonable restrictions on the number of occupants that will be permitted in a unit, such a policy must be reasonable and cannot be based on the fact that some of the occupants are children.
Although the fair housing laws do not mandate an occupancy standard, a “two person per bedroom” is a commonly used rule of thumb. However this is not always a hard and fast rule. To determine whether such a policy is reasonable and non-discriminatory against families with children, a court would consider a variety of factors. Among these would be whether the landlord’s policy is based on a local ordinance restricting occupancy levels that is designed to address health and safety issues. Also significant may be the square footage, the size of the bedrooms, etc.
Therefore as to whether the landlord in this case could refuse to allow the three boys to share a bedroom based on his “two person per bedroom” rule, the answer would depend on a various factors, including local occupancy ordinances, the reasonableness of the landlord’s policy, whether this policy is consistently applied regardless of the fact that some of the intended occupants are children, the size of the bedrooms, etc.
As to the question involving the possibility that one of the boys may share a bedroom with his sister, the landlord should not refuse to rent to this family based on this fact. Such an arrangement is the decision of the parents, not the landlord, and imposing such a rule could be considered a fair housing violation.
By Scott Williams, OAR Director of Government Affairs
The Ohio Department of Health has created a website and fact sheet addressing concerns that have been raised about the state’s proposed sewage treatment system rules since the start of regional public hearings in mid-November.
According to ODH, a number of questions have been raised about additional costs and regulations that could result from the new rules. Additionally, the Department’s website addresses a number of myths that have surfaced, including whether the updated rules will require the replacement of older, existing systems and annual fees.
Two additional meetings are scheduled (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.):
- Thursday, Dec. 5 — Athens (OSU Extension Office — 2nd Floor meeting Room, entrance at the rear of the building, 280 W. Union Street)
- Monday, Dec. 9 — Columbus (Columbus Public Health Auditorium, 240 Parsons Ave.)