Watchdog Report – March 11


Federal Funding for HUD

The federal budget is divided into 12 different bills.  For years, Congress has failed to pass them, and they haven’t passed a budget on time since 1996.  Continuing resolutions have become regular order.  The current fiscal year, which started October 1, 2023, is no different except that maybe this time Congress will pass a complete budget, just not on time.

Last week, Congress passed six of the 12 required budget bills that included funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Those six bills fund those programs through September 30, 2024.  They were set to expire March 8, leading to a partial government shutdown.  Many affordable housing and mortgage lending programs would have been affected.

The six remaining budgets expire March 22, including funding for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Real Estate Licensing Law

Another key issue for Realtors is our state’s real estate license law, officially known as the Real Estate Practice Act.  A lot has changed in the real estate business since the last time it was updated.  Your REALTOR® Association is working with the SC Real Estate Commission and other interested groups on an update and last week was a major milestone: the bill passed the SC House.  This is important because the House is about to take up the budget.  We don’t want to be in line behind that. 

The changes include:

  • Allow brokers to promote other brokers’ listings with permission and attribution.
  • Recognize increased use of AI and explain licensee responsibility when using AI.
  • Eliminate preferential treatment for real estate licensees from other states.
  • Allow lapsed status for up to 24 months (current is six months).
  • Prohibit residential listing agreements that last longer than one year. 
  • Require a licensee to ensure that trust funds are distributed even when held by a law firm.
  • Change the minimum experience required for broker licensure from three years to five years.
  • Prohibit licensees from assisting others in the practice of wholesaling.
  • Real estate teams will be required to list their team name as “(team name) team at (name of real estate brokerage firm)”. Any team advertising must also have the full name of the brokerage firm at least as large as the team name. And licensees must have the full name of the brokerage firm in all advertising including advertising of their services that is not tied to a listing.
  • Require brokers in charge to appear with their supervised licensee at any disciplinary hearing of the licensee.

One proposal that was removed from the bill was to increase continuing education hours from 10 to 16 hours. 

Local Issues Update

Every month, I make a short presentation to new members.  I usually lead with, “It’s About Supply.”  I try to help them understand how excessive government regulation is limiting housing supply.  And because housing supply is not keeping pace with demand, natural economic forces have caused housing prices to rise.

From my seat in government meetings, I see strong opposition to new housing development, usually by existing homeowners.  The result is that Realtors often find the marketplace is lacking what they hope to sell: housing.

Your association’s role is to be a broker of ideas to bridge the gap between those who don’t want their neighborhood to change and the clear need for new housing in our region.  These are two of the places where we are engaged as advocates on your behalf:

Pickens County UDSO

Pickens County Council is more than a year into developing an ordinance to amend the Unified Development Standards Ordinance.  In tandem, they have imposed a moratorium on subdivisions of 50 lots or more, which has been in effect since February 2, 2023.  And they are considering an impact fee that could add an average of $2,500 to the cost of a new home.

We had a legal review of the ordinance done in December that told us the county is considering zoning even though they say they don’t want zoning.  Your association is neutral on zoning, but we have told them that if they enact zoning, they need to develop a process for appeals and to change zoning after it is adopted.  We have also requested a legal review of the impact fee proposal.  NAR and SCR have helped us with those legal reviews.

Oconee County Development Regulations

Growth is moving up I-85 and US-123 as opposition to housing in Pickens and Greenville counties has increased.  At their strategic planning meeting on February 23, county council agreed that they need to review and update their development regulations. 

The planning commission met last week to start that process, and dozens of residents attended and spoke in support of increased regulation of new housing.  We’ll work with the county to help them draft solutions to problems created when development isn’t properly managed.

Support RPAC

RPAC is an important element of your Realtors Association’s advocacy program.  I encourage you to support RPAC and we make it easy to do so—we include a voluntary RPAC contribution on your annual dues renewal.  Simply pay it and you have support RPAC.  If you want to do more, it’s easy

Michael Dey, Director of Government Affairs