Recap of some of 2017 Florida Realtors biggest legislative victories:
• Cap on estoppel certificate fees — Sellers of properties who live in an HOA, condo association or co-op will be happy to learn that there will be a limit to the amount they’ll pay for an estoppel certificate, a document that informs a buyer if the seller is current with their dues and assessments. SB 398 (Sen. Passidomo, R-Naples) caps estoppel certificate fees at $250 for unit owners who are current in their assessments. Associations may charge an additional $100 for expedited estoppel certificates (delivered within three business days) and another $150 to owners who are delinquent in their assessments. The bill sets the price of estoppel certificates for multiple units owned by the same person, and establishes a uniform, statewide format that ensures buyers and closing agents receive the appropriate information needed to close the real estate transaction. This bill also requires certificates to be valid for 30 days if delivered electronically or 35 days if delivered by mail. Effective: July 1, 2017.
• 10 percent tax cap on non-homestead property taxes — In 2008, voters approved Amendment 1, which created a 10 percent cap on the annual increase of property taxes for all non-homestead properties. The 2008 amendment sunsets on Jan. 1, 2019, unless renewed in the 2018 general election. HJR 21 (Rep. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland) puts the question before voters again in November 2018. Unlike the 2008 referendum, which had a 10-year lifespan, HJR 21 would make the cap permanent.
• More than $270 million for affordable housing projects — The affordable housing programs received their highest funding level in a decade, with $137 million coming from the state and local government housing trust funds and $113 million from the Florida Housing Guarantee Fund. There is also more than $22 million in additional funds for housing projects/services around the state, such as programs for individuals who are homeless. These funds will go a long way in helping Floridians achieve the dream of homeownership with down payment assistance. They also provide rental assistance and housing rehabilitation to Florida’s homeless, veterans and persons with disabilities.
The Legislature also passed several bills designed to hold down property taxes:
• Additional homestead tax exemption — Representing $645 million (and then increasing in subsequent years) in property tax savings, HJR 7105 (Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud) puts a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot that would allow homeowners to shield an additional $25,000 of the value of their home from non-school property taxes. This additional $25,000 would apply the exemption to the portion of values between $100,000 and $125,000. Effective Jan. 1, 2019, if approved by 60 percent of voters.
• Tax exemptions for disabled first responders — HB 455 (Rep. Larry Metz, R-Groveland) implements a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2016. It provides a 100 percent homestead tax exemption to first responders who become totally and permanently disabled in the line of duty. The bill also extends the 100 percent exemption to the surviving spouse under certain conditions. The estimated tax savings for these property owners is $4.5 million. Effective: Upon becoming law.
• $600 million in tax relief for property owners — To protect homeowners from higher property taxes resulting from increased education funding, the Legislature agreed to inject $600 million from general revenue into the K-12 education budget. This infusion of funds effectively shields property owners from an increase in local taxes that occurs when property values increase.
Additionally, the Legislature passed a bill concerning flood insurance:
• Grow the private flood insurance market — As Realtors petition Congress to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), lawmakers continue to work to attract private flood insurance capital to Florida. HB 813 (Rep. Larry Lee Jr., D-Fort Pierce) accomplishes two primary goals: (1) Rating flexibility for flood insurers is extended from 2019 until 2025 before they must follow guidelines similar to other lines of coverage. Not extending this provision could discourage private insurers from entering the Florida market; (2) insurance agents can place flood policies with surplus lines insurers for two more years — until 2019 — before they must make a “diligent effort” to place the coverage with carriers regulated by the state. Diligent effort requires an agent to seek coverage and be rejected by at least three regulated carriers writing the same type of coverage. Effective: July 1, 2017.
This information was excerpted from Florida Realtors