5 Bills Montgomery County Homeowners Should Pay Attention To

There are five bills currently making their way through the Virginia General Assembly that homeowners in Virginia, particularly those in Montgomery County, should be paying attention to.  From the Virginia Homeowners Alliance:

  • HB570 – real estate taxes are based on a real estate assessor’s assessment of your property’s value, and is almost always based on a combination of a visual inspection of the exterior (read – sitting in the car) and a quick perusal of the property card.  If you don’t like the assessment, it’s up to YOU to defend whether the property’s value should have gone up or down.  This bill shifts the burden of responsibility from you to the assessor who valued the property.
  • HB552 – a scenario to consider – you want to build a detached apartment on your property, and you petition your local government to change the zoning to allow for just that.  You break ground, start building, and then … the locality changes its’ mind and makes you undue everything.  Hmmm … I can’t think of anything like that happening around here.  HB552 strengthens a property owner’s “vested rights”.
  • HB191 – this legislation unifies the process of filing formal complaints against a homeowners association.  Right now, the rules are different for each association.
  • HB205 – when your home gets damaged, your hazard insurance should pay to fix that damage.  However, there’s no guarantee that the brown roof you had on the house won’t be replaced with a green one.  This bill serves to make sure that you’re not stuck with a green roof when you ordered a brown one.  Unless, of course, you wanted the green roof … oh, nevermind.
  • HB430 – Remember HB570, up above?  HB430 focuses on values as well, but this time requires that real estate assessors have more education, and make the appeals process easier for homeowners.

I like that HB570 shifts some of the responsibility away from the individual who isn’t actively involved in the assessment process to the one who should be well-versed in the area.  There needs to be a balance, certainly, but it’s a step in the right direction.  And certainly more education can’t be a bad thing as it pertains to HB430, but certainly education doth not a good assessor make.  Interested to see what the final iteration of this one might be.

If you’re a homeowner in Virginia, I would highly recommend joining the Virginia Homeowners Alliance.  This service, provided by the Virginia Association of REALTORS, helps all of us protect our homes’ value by knowing what’s happening in legislation that affects each of us.  As someone who’s worked very closely on the implementation of this very important service, I can speak firsthand to the attention to detail that has gone into it.  The link to signup is here, and as always, it’s SPAM-free!

As a final aside, during the middle of this month I’ll be attending what’s called the Day on the Hill.  It’s an opportunity for the real estate community to talk one-on-one with our elected officials in Richmond, and some of the discussions might center around topics like these above, or most certainly the first-time buyer credit.  If there are housing issues you’d like addressed directly to your representatives, email me and let’s see if we can get it in front of them.

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