Great American REALTOR® Days allows us as REALTORS® to be involved directly in the creation and discussion to new real estate laws.

REALTORS® don’t just care about real estate when they’re at the office—we’re passionate about real estate off the clock, too. That’s why we show up every year for Great American Realtor Days in Tallahassee, an event where we meet with legislators to discuss real estate legislation that benefits Florida residents. For over 100 years, Florida REALTORS® have worked and negotiated with the Florida Legislature to advocate for home, property, and business owners. This advocacy has seen the passage of landmark legislation over the years, and agents throughout the state continue to advise the legislature on how proposed legislation will affect property owners. Here’s what was on the table at the 2017 GARD session last month.

SB 704/HB 463 seeks to lower the sales tax that many Florida businesses pay on rent. When this tax is lowered,  businesses will be better enabled to create more jobs, grow their enterprises, and financially support their local communities.

SB 1038 is an urgently needed piece of legislation that, if passed, will put a stop to Assignment of Benefits abuse. AOB abuse was featured in this column a few weeks ago, but in case you missed it: AOB is a practice in which home repair contractors collect the homeowner’s insurance benefits. This practice has seen widespread abuse in the state of Florida and has caused insurers to raise their premiums due to the frequency of claims. SB 1038 will work to reduce AOB abuse and keep insurance rates down.

SB 398/HB 483 is focused on capping estoppel certificate fees. Association management companies are legally permitted to charge fees for the preparation of estoppel certificates, which are documents used in mortgage negotiations to establish facts and financial obligations. Some companies interpret the wording of “reasonable fee” in the law liberally, and charge exorbitant prices for this service. SB 398/HB 483 would establish a cap on these fees to keep companies from taking an unfair advantage.

A rally during GARD to discuss the importance of homeownership in Florida.

Many other issues were also discussed at GARD, among them an increase in funding for housing trust funds, and a renewal of the property tax cap on second homes and businesses. Over the past few years, the need for housing assistance has risen along with market values. This year there will be over $300 million available to help low-income and at-risk individuals achieve their dream of homeownership, but the need is rising. The legislature also brought up the possibility of renewing the property tax cap of non-homestead properties, which voters approved in 2008. The cap has a sunset provision that causes the amendment to expire on January 1st, 2019 unless renewed by voters in the 2018 election.

Even when we’re not helping you buy or sell properties, rest assured that we REALTORS® are hard at work making sure the State Legislature does what’s right for you. We’re here to advocate for you, and to make sure that the rights of home, business, and property owners are always protected and upheld. Great American Realtor Days is over for the year, but Valerie Dailey, owner and broker at Showcase, is currently in Washington DC lobbying for both the finance and real estate industries. For two weeks, she’ll be working to make sure that homeowners in Florida and across the country are able to buy and sell with confidence.

To learn more about how real estate professionals work with local, state, and national governments to benefit homeowners, contact us!