Archive for the ‘Virginia Real Estate Regs’ Category

The new landmark transportation law was passed by the Virginia General Assembly to raise new revenue to fund transportation initiatives across the Commonwealth (HB 2313). This law is effective July 1, 2013.

Among the increase in sales, use and fuel taxes is an increase in the grantor’s tax, or that tax imposed on transferors of real estate located in the Commonwealth of Virginia
However, the increased tax is only applicable to certain geographic areas.
Specifically, the tax will be imposed on properties located in:

  • Arlington County VA
  • Fairfax County VA
  • Loudoun County VA
  • Prince William County VA
  • City of Alexandria VA
  • City of Fairfax VA
  • City of Falls Church VA
  • Cities of Manassas VA and Manassas Park VA
  • Town of Dumfries VA
  • Town of Herndon VA
  • Town of Leesburg VA
  • Town of Purcellville VA
  • Town of Vienna VA
  • Additionally, certain counties and cities in the Hampton Roads area will also be subject to the increased tax.

The current tax imposed is .10/$100 of the sales price or fair market value, whichever is higher.

As of July 1, 2013, the tax is increased to .25/$100 (or $2.50/$1,000). This represents a 150% increase in the grantor’s tax.
For example, on a $400,000 sale, the tax is increased from $400 to $1,000.

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The National Association of REALTORS® has won a challenge to the use of its trademark REALTOR® in a domain name operated by the website GayRealtor.com 

NAR rules allow members to use its trademark REALTOR® in domain names according to specific requirements and rules. After extensive but unsuccessful efforts by NAR to persuade the operator of the website GayRealtor.com to comply with those rules, NAR challenged the use of that domain name in an administrative proceeding before the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body that governs use of such domain names.

ICANN issued its decision on March 7, 2012 holding that use of GayRealtor.com was misleading and not adopted in good faith.


NAR owns numerous U.S. trademark registrations for the term “REALTOR,” and only NAR members can use the REALTOR® marks in accordance with governing NAR by-laws.

REALTOR® marks can only be used in connection with a member’s name or the legal name of his or her real estate firm to identify themselves as a member of NAR. Members are given notice of this obligation upon obtaining membership with the association. NAR also permits the use of the mark REALTOR® in a domain name or advertisement, but only in connection with the member’s name or firm’s name.

“The REALTOR® mark is a valuable branding and marketing resource allowed only to NAR members,” said NAR President Moe Veissi.

“The term REALTOR® is not only protected by federal law, but it is also a membership benefit that distinguishes members from all others in the real estate business. NAR works hard to protect the integrity of this brand for its 1 million members.”

More: http://retechnology.com/news/general-tech-news/nar-protects-realtor-trademark-by-winning-domain-name-challenge


NOTE from Vivianne: All REALTORS are real estate agents, but NOT all real estate agents are REALTORS – All REALTORS are members of National Association of REALTORS and are held to higher standards of practice as described in The REALTOR Code of Ethics.

NOTE: Contact Vivianne for REALTOR services and all your real estate needs in Northern Virgina, Fairfax County VA, Loudoun County VA, Prince William County VA


SOURCE: NAR; REALTOR Magazine; RETechnology

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February 17, 2010, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors created a Limestone Overlay District in the Route 15 corridor north of Leesburg, Virginia.

The decision was intended to protect groundwater and prevent contamination problems in that area. Raspberry Falls subdivision has been experiencing water quality problems in recent years.

Under the new policies, any water supply or well that will withdraw more than 10,000 gallons of water per day during any 30-day period would have to have a study done prior to approval. In addition, wells must be located at least 100 feet from sinkholes, depressions, caves, and sinking streams.   Also, any land disturbing activities and development will be allowed only if a geophysical study shows there is no risk from karst features. However, primary residential structures will be allowed, unless decided otherwise.

What does it mean to homeowners in the LOD area?

It means that all DEEDS, Site Plans, and Record Subdivision Plats will include a notice that the property is located within the LOD, Limestone Overlay District.  The notice informs new residents that they live in an area with very special geographic features.

The policy was criticized by DAAR, Dulles Area Association of REALTORS, who opposed creation of the District saying it will negatively affect property values and make it harder for homeowners to sell homes.

Anyone who needs more information about LOD should contact Loudoun County Zoning Office directly.


SOURCE: Leesburg Today

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The numbers do not lie. In fewer than four months, more than 250 borrowers have applied for VHDA’s new Homebuyer Tax Credit Plus mortgage loan. The loan is definitely sparking the interest of potential first-time homebuyers who thought they’d be left out of the current affordable market due to lack of funds for down payment and closing costs.

It means that those 250 first time home buyers would not be able to afford to purchase a home, but for VHDA program.

VHDA is helping make the $8,000 federal tax credit work for first-time buyers by addressing their critical need for up-front cash. Homebuyer Tax Credit Plus makes it easy to come up with the cash, by combining a VHDA FHA first mortgage with a second mortgage of up to 5 percent of the sales price. Not only can that 5 percent be used for down payment and closing costs, there is no interest and no payments due on the second mortgage for the first 12 months.

“While this program is similar to VHDA’s current down payment assistance program,” said VHDA Director of Homeownership Programs Michele Watson, “it’s unique in that the second mortgage offers no payments and 0% interest during the first year. This gives borrowers the flexibility to choose a preferred payment plan for the second mortgage.”

Homebuyer Tax Credit Plus enables the borrower to use their tax credit to pay off the second mortgage at no cost. Or they can keep their tax credit and have the loan amortized over 29 years at the same affordable fixed interest rate as the first mortgage. Pricing options are available, and the interest rate on the first and second mortgage will be the same. In addition, no points or origination fees are charged on the second mortgage.

“The hope for full market recovery lies with first-time homebuyers,” said Watson. “The Homebuyer Tax Credit Plus loan provides first-time homebuyers a resource to take advantage of this market.”  Needless to say, first-time home buyers are crucial in real estate market.

Homebuyers still have time to take advantage of the program. As with the federal tax credit requirements, loans must close by November 30, 2009. All the program details can be found at vhda.com.

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REALTORS love their job – there is never a dull moment and there is not much room for ignorance.

The law called Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act requires that Realtors® (and others) must call the Virginia Utility Protection Service — aka Miss Utility — before putting up any sign that involves sticking something in the dirt, other than temporary directional signs.

Effective August,  2009 real estate agents in Virginia will face up to a $2,500 fine if they do not call Miss Utility prior to installing a For Sale sign.  

The SCC maintains the new rule is for safety reasons, although the regulation has an exemption: The owner of the property does NOT need to get permission from Miss Utility before installing.  

The SCC points out that utility lines are not always buried deep; they can be as little as two inches below the ground (???).  The SCC claims that in the last two and a half years, more than 600 gas lines have been damaged within a foot of the surface.

Effective August 1, 2009, Virginia real estate agents must call Miss Utility for any kind of sign, except temporary, free-standing “tent” signs or directional Open House signs:

  • Utility of Virginia at 811 or (800) 552-7001 must be called at least 48 hours before installing, excluding weekends and holidays.
  • Once called, must wait 48 hours starting at 7 a.m. the next working day to give Miss Utility a chance to mark any lines.
  • After 48 hours, if there are no marks, need to call again, then wait three hours.
  • After those waiting periods, or if an OK call is received, then a sign can be installed.

The installation approval — called a “utility ticket” — is only good for 15 working days. If there is a need to install another sign after 15 days, the process must be repeated over in case a utility company added a line during that time.


Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act 


SOURCE: Virginia Association of REALTORS

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The Virginia Housing Development Authority, VHDA, Homebuyer Tax Credit Plus – Program Can be Used for Closing Costs, Points, (and Downpayment) on Loans Closed by December 1, 2009

The Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) is launching a new program to allow first time homebuyers to use the Federal First Time Homebuyer $8,000 Tax Credit to finance closing costs, points to lower their interest rate, and downpayment on a VHDA mortgage.  Borrowers can use the Tax Credit for downpayment only if they satissfied the 3.5% FHA requirement – only then the credit can be used to make a larger downpayment.

The release of VHDA’s program follows HUD’s May 2009 announcement that FHA approved lenders are permitted “monetization” of the Federal First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit through short-term bridge loans.


 VHDA Homebuyer Tax Credit Plus Program Features: 

  • The maximum loan amount for the first mortgage is the maximum FHA mortgage
  • Affordable fixed-rate financing on both mortgages
  • 0% interest on the second mortgage for the first year
  • No payments required on the second mortgage for the first year
  • Beginning with the 13th month, the second mortgage will have the same interest rate as the first mortgage and monthly payments must be made thereafter
  • Maximum second mortgage loan amount – up to 5% of sales price (no cash back)


VHDA Homebuyer Tax Credit Plus Program Details:

Time Limit: Loan must close no later than November 30, 2009.

 Eligibility Requirements: Borrowers must meet federal First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit requirements as well as VHDA’s requirements regarding first-time homebuyer status, income limits, sales price limits, etc.

Maximum Income: The combined income of all household members may not exceed VHDA’s maximum income limits, which for Washington D.C. area: Arlington County, Fairfax County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, Prince William County is $86,900 for 2 or fewer persons, and $100,000 for 3 or more persons.

Maximum Sales Price/Total Loan Amount: The combination of the first and second mortgage may not exceed VHDA’s sales price/income limits, which for Washington D.C. area: Arlington County, Fairfax County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, Prince William County is $408,100.

Minimum Credit Score: Minimum of 620.

Qualifying Ratios: FHA Ratios of 31% payment to income/ 43% debt to income apply.

Required Borrowers Funds: Borrowers must have a minimum of 1% of the sales price verified as their own funds to be contributed toward the transaction or have available as reserves.

Pricing Options: Pricing Options are available. Rate on the first and second mortgage will be the same. No points or origination fee charged on the second mortgage.

In order to qualify for any VHDA loan product, including Homebuyer Tax Credit Plus, individuals must take a free VHDA homeownership education class. These free classes cover topics including credit issues, personal finances, home inspections, the role of lenders and real estate agents, and the closing process. In-person and online classes can be scheduled by visiting www.vhda.com.


Eligible buyers have the following three re-payment options:

  1.  Pay off the second mortgage with the Federal First Time Homebuyer $8,000 Tax Credit.
  2. Pay off the second mortgage over 29 years – and save the tax credit to pay for future emergencies, make home improvements, or pay off/pay down existing debt.
  3. Make principal payments on the second mortgage before the repayment period begins; this will reduce the required monthly payments for the remaining 29 years on the second mortgage.  

If borrowers are not eligible for the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, or the tax refund (if any) is not enough to repay the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit plus loan, borrowers are still obligated to repay the second mortgage, plus all applicable interest.  For more information, visit http://www.vhda.com/sf/pdf/HomebuyerTaxCreditPlus.pdf or call 877-VHDA-123.


Information about $8,000 tax credit is available at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=204671,00.html?portlet=7

Related posts about $8,000 Tax CreditFHA Approved Bridge Loans for $8,000 Tax Credit – Monetization 



NOTE: For details always contact your trusted Lender

NOTE: Contact me personally for a no obligation Buyer Consultation to see if you qualify for the Federal and VHDA $8,000 Tax Credit



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The method a purchaser takes the Title to the real estate holdings is of a paramount importance, can have great ramifications in the future, and possibly work against the owner if a wrong title was chosen.

My experience as a REALTOR tells me that TITLE  issues are often under-explained and overlooked. Occasionally homebuyers learn about the possible options for the first time on the Settlement day without having the time to fully consider the legal consequences of their decision.

While, as REALTORS, we cannot give legal advice – doing so would amount to practicing law without a license and is persecuted by the federal law – however, a good Buyer Agent will point a purchaser in the right direction and emphasize the significance of the different ways that the Title can be taken. A professional, highly ethical Title and Settlement company will also make an effort to educate the purchaser, although many title and settlement officers are not necessarily attorneys and cannot give legal advice.

Given that scenario, real estate and home purchasers need to take the time to educate themselves  about the Title options, legal consequences and potential financial risks, and  if necessary to consult a good real estate attorney prior to the settlement day.

Property law varies from state to state – this is very important to remember for purchasers who are relocating from one state to another.

I am a REALTOR licensed in Virginia.  Below are the forms of ownership available in Virginia – they may be different in other states.

  • Sole owner
  • Tenancy by the Entirety
  • Joint Tenancy
  • Tenancy in Common
  • LLC, Limited Liability Company

SOLE OWNER  – One that holds possession to real property  with no one else, and undeniably the most risk-free form of ownership.

TENANCY BY THE ENTIRETY  – A special form of joint tenancy for married couples – available only in a about half the states (Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania are Tenancy by the Entirety states).  Tenancy by the Entirety is available ONLY to a HUSBAND AND WIFE who hold the property together as a single legal entity. It can be created only by will or by deed and it allows the property to pass AUTOMATICALLY to the surviving spouse when a spouse dies, and not to other heirs of the deceased spouse.  This is called the right of survivorship which is built in automatically into Tenancy by the Entirety to protect the surviving  spouse.

Most importantly, tenancy by the entirety protects a spouse’s interest in the property from the other spouse’s creditors!  Property is protected from judgment creditors trying to enforce their liens against the property.  If the DEBTOR spouse dies first, then the lien CANNOT be enforced against the property and the innocent spouse.  However, the lien CAN be enforced against the surviving debtor spouse.

With tenancy by the entirety, each tenant owns the entire estate thereby preventing either tenant from acting individually – it means neither party can voluntarily dispose of her or his interest in the property without the consent of the other tenant. In the event of DIVORCE, the tenancy by the entirety becomes a tenancy in common, and the right of survivorship is lost.

Tenancy by the entirety can be created only by married persons, however, a married couple may choose a joint tenancy or tenancy in common. In most states a married couple is presumed to take title to property as tenants by entirety, UNLESS the deed or conveying documents state otherwise – be sure to verify, it all depends on professionalism and ethics of the Title/Settlement company.

JOINT TENANCY –  Form of ownership by two or more persons of the same property who own EQUAL shares of the property and have the equal, undivided right to keep or dispose of the property  – UNLESS, defined otherwise in a joint ownership agreement.

This is the biggest difference between the Tenancy by the Entirety and Joint Tenancy: 1)  Joint Tenancy does NOT protect against the creditors – a judgment creditor may petition the court to divide the property and collect the judgment from one of the owner’s shares, 2) one of the co-owners may petition the court to divide the property or order the sale.

Joint Tenancy WITH the Right of Survivorship – when one tenant dies, the property AUTOMATICALLY transfers in equal parts to the survivors. When only one joint tenant is left alive, he or she receives the entire estate.

Joint Tenancy WITHOUT the Right of Survivorship – This form of ownership is synonymous with a tenancy in common.

TENANCY IN COMMON – A specific  type of concurrent, or simultaneous, ownership of real property by two or more parties – upon the death of an owner, shares of the property pass to the owner’s heirs, according to the will, and not necessarily to the surviving spouse.

The biggest difference between Tenancy in Common and Joint Tenancy and Tenancy by the Entirety is that Tenancy in Common offers NO Right of Survivorship, and tenants can hold UNEQUAL interest in the property that can be obtained via different instruments – Joint Tenants and Tenants by the Entirety own EQUAL shares of the property and must obtain their interests at the same time and in the same document.


LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY –  There are advantages and disadvantages of the Limited Liability Company.

ADVANTAGES – Owners of LLC, like corporations, enjoy liability protection.  LLC is a separate legal entity, thus members cannot be held personally liable for business debts, unless they signed a personal guarantee.  Another benefit is management flexibility and pass-through taxation, as members  pay their share of taxes on their individual tax returns,  just like in the case of sole proprietorship or partnership.

DISADVANTAGES – Unlike corporations, LLC is dissolved  when a member dies or undergoes a bankruptcy.   Also, there are fees to set up and operate the LLC.  

NOTE: The above is based solely on individual research and should not be taken as legal advice

NOTE: For legal advice on Title issues contact your Real Estate Attorney and Tax Advisor



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Dulles Area Association of REALTORS (DAAR) of Leesburg helped to raise public awareness to oppose the ban on alternative septic systems imposed by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

See my blog, November 2008: Loudoun approved ban on new non-conventional septic systems for five years.

In 2008, DAAR worked to reverse the ban by helping to move forward legislation to clarify that the Code of Virginia allows local governments to regulate alternative septic systems but does not give them authority to ban outright these systems. The new law nullifies the recent ban on alternative septic systems imposed by Loudoun County once the state promulgates regulations on these systems by March 1st, 2010.


Local Realtor associations, including DAAR,  contacted Virginia Association of REALTORS, VAR, in 2008 aboutcounty governments trying to ban alternative septic systems. Both VAR and the Office of the Attorney General advised localities that while the Code of Virginia allows them to regulate alternative septic systems, it does not give them authority to ban outright these systems. HB 1788, introduced at the request of VAR, clarifies that local governments cannot ban alternative septic systems unless expressly authorized by the General Assembly.

Virginia’s alternative septic system bills were amended to clarify that once regulations directing the maintenance of these systems have been promulgated by the State Board of Health, localities can no longer prohibit new permits for qualified alternative septic systems.  The estimated effective date for this legislation is March 1, 2010, depending on the exact date when the new regs are promulgated.

 Virginia Senate Bill 1276,      Virginia House Bill 1788,

Loudoun County Approved Ban on Alternative Septic Systems – November, 2008


SOURCE:  Dulles Area Association of REALTORS; Virginia Association of REALTORS



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Effective July 1, 2009, a new law in Virginia prohibits the use of handheld personal communications devices while operating a moving motor vehicle, with a few exceptions. 

The law states that it is unlawful for any person to operate a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth of Virginia while using any handheld personal communications device to


1)    Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person

2)    Read any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device. This prohibition does NOT apply to names or numbers stored in the device nor to caller identification information.


The law does NOT apply to the operator of any emergency vehicle; an operator who is lawfully parked or stopped; the use of factory-installed or aftermarket global positioning systems (GPS) or wireless communications devices used to transmit or receive data as part of a digital dispatch system; or any person using a handheld personal communications device to report an emergency.

A citation for a violation of law will only be issued when the officer issuing the citation has a cause to stop or arrest the driver of the motor vehicle for the violation of some other provision of this Code or local ordinance relating to the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a motor vehicle or any criminal statute. 

Details of the bill HB 1876

SOURCE:  State of Virginia Legislature,  DAAR



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Effective October 1, 2008, FHA will accept new applications only from state-certified appraisers.

No new applications will be accepted from state-licensed appraisers as a result of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, signed July 30, 2008. FHA is only accepting applications from state-certified appraisers.

Effective October 1, 2008, licensed appraisers who were approved for placement on the FHA appraiser roster, but who have not kept their roster status current due to the failure to renew an appraisal license, sanctioning or other constraints, and who are now requesting reinstatement to the roster will be treated like new applicants and, therefore, are NOT ELIGIBLE for reinstatement. Only certified appraisers may request and receive reinstatement on the FHA appraiser roster.

Appraisers must also demonstrate verifiable education in appraisal requirements as established by the agency. 

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development;  Virginia Association of REALTORS


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On Monday, November 3rd, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted to approve an ordinance to restrict the use of new non-conventional septic systems on homes, businesses and churches for five years.  Despite testimony and input provided by hundreds of DAAR members, Loudoun residents, rural businesses, soil engineers and industry experts opposing the proposed ban before a public hearing, several public input sessions and stakeholder meetings over the past twelve months, the majority of the Board of Supervisors (6-3) approved the ordinance.  The Attorney General also provided a letter to Delegate Clay Athey in response to concerns expressed over the legality of the proposed ban. 


Dulles Area Association of REALTORS opposed the ill-advised ban which was imposed as a way to stop growth instead of protecting public health and safety.  In addition to placing several ads in area papers, DAAR mailed a postcard to every property owner in Loudoun County with a non-conventional septic system alerting them of the impact this ill-advised policy will have on their property values.


Source: Dulles Area Association of REALTORS

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This Act protects property owners from localities that seek to alter past zoning decisions by enacting new zoning ordinances.
For example, if a structure was constructed in accordance with a local government building permit, and the locality issued a certificate of occupancy or use permit, a later zoning ordinance may not remove it for nonconformity with the new ordinance. It also applies to structures on which an owner has paid taxes to the locality for more than 15 years.

Of course, the question remains what happens if the “building permit” was forced on the HELPLESS citizens by a local, say, town, government to the detriment of the taxpayers? Clearly, the state of Virginia made sure, that the government always has the upper hand, no matter how unfair or unjust the decision.

Such was the case of the Mormon Church in Potomac Crossing in Leesburg, Virginia. There was literally NOTHING that the Home Owners could do against the Town government of Kristen Umstattd, Leesburg mayor, once the Town made the decision to rezone and sell a lot to the Mormon Church, a lot that was supposed to be used originally for the tennis courts and play grounds for children.

The Town of Leesburg very unwisely zoned a small lot in the middle of a residential area as COMMERCIAL by PREVIOUS Town Council (1988, no need existed for the commercial area, pure politics), and when opposed by the Home Owners, The Town rezoned the lot and gingerly sold it to the Mormon Church in 2002 without communicating the sale to the Home Owners. The Town contacted the adjacent 92 properties – minimum required by the law. Over 800 HO were never contacted by The Town or the HOA.

To make it worse, many new Home Buyers were issued HOA documents that did not have the church marked on the map, even though an elementary school nearby was marked, long after the rezoning and sale of the lot. The sold lot was “vacant” for many years and many new buyers were told it was a common area. Indeed, many original Home Owners believed the lot was “common area” until one beautiful day in March 2008 they noticed bulldozers  working on the lot.

My point is that The Vested Rights Reform looks good on the surface and it appears to be Property Owner friendly, but in reality, like anything else in life, it can be misused and even abused by government(s) and special interest groups.

SOURCE: Virginia Association of REALTORS

NOTE: The interpretation of this legislature and comment is my personal, and is not a reflection on Keller Williams Realty or Virginia Association of REALTORS

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Effective July 1, 2008 there is a new law in Virginia,  Property Owners’ Association (POA) Act and Condominium Act.

This is a long overdue law.  Until now the HOA documents were an important part of the real estate transaction and the contract – so important that HOA documents alone could make or break the real estate contract – yet, there was no federal or state law governing POAs .  Sellers, by law, are obligated to deliver the HOA documents to the Buyer and based on those documents Home Buyers have 3 days to decide whether they want to reside in a given community or to void the contract.

Interestingly, in the state of Virginia, as important as the HOA documents are to the Real Estate transaction itself, there was NO  Board that had a jurisdiction over the Home Owner Associations.

It meant that if Home Owners within a given HOA had a valid complaint against their HOA board they had nowhere to turn to.  It also means that if Buyers received fraudulent HOA documents, they also had nowhere to turn to.   Not much of a comfort!

That changed July 1, 2008.

The Property Owners’ Association Act and Condominium Act created the Virginia Common Interest Community Board to investigate complaints about community association managers.

This ACT also makes other changes:

  • requires associations to publish certificate or packet fees in electronic or paper format
  • enables sellers or agents to request electronic delivery, and they may designate two additional recipients to receive the materials in electronic form at no additional charge

Most importantly, the ACT established the maximum amount that the HOAs are allowed to charge as fees for the HOA documents.  The fees cannot exceed:

  • 100 for a property inspection
  • $150 for two copies of the disclosure packet in hard copy and $125 for two copies of the disclosure packet in electronic form; only one fee may be charged
  • $50 for an expedite fee
  • $25 for an additional hard copy
  • $50 for a post-closing fee


  • For no more than $50, an update, delivered within 10 days of a written request, may be requested if a packet or resale certificate was issued within the previous 12 months

These changes only apply to associations who have hired a management company or who have a full-time staff.


Complaints against POAs, condominiums, property owners’ association, and cooperatives, can be filed with:  




SOURCE:  Virginia Association of REALTORS



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The most fundamental right of every Home Buyer is the right to purchase a home that is best suited to their needs and lifestyle, and where they know their Family will be happy.  After all, they are purchasing NOT just a house, they are purchasing a HOME.  This is the minimum of protection that should be guaranteed by the CONSTITUTION.  It goes into the heart of individual rights and property rights.

Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act requires Home Seller to disclose if their house is located within a development that is subject to the Virginia Property Owner’s Association Act. The POA Act requires the Seller of the property within such a development to obtain an Association Disclosure packet from the property owners’ association and provide it to the Purchaser.  The information in the Association Disclosure Packet should be current as of  a date-specified on the Association Disclosure Packet.

This is very important to understand because all the information and all the data may be correct in the Packet leading up to the date on the Packet, but very misleading if changes in community bylaws were made after that date or if any other information changed (ex. there is a lawsuit against the HOA).  This is why it is wise and important to ALWAYS request an UPDATE to the Packet. The Seller has the obligation to provide the Packet for the Home Buyer, but the Buyer has the right – at the Buyer’s expense – to request an update to the HOA Packet.

Virginia Jurisdictional Addendum states very clearly: “The Purchaser, at the Purchaser’s expense, shall have the right to request that the association provide an update of the Association Disclosure Packet previously furnished, along with the assurance that there have been no material change, or if there have been material change, a statement specifying such changes”.

Virginia POA Act is the STATE LAW in Virginia.   It means that a Seller of a property CANNOT legally request of a Buyer to forgo the HOA Documents or the Condominium Documents.  This includes the foreclosed properties – banks are NOT above the law.  The Buyer has the right to demand the HOA documents BEFORE making the decision.

What if a POA Packet is delivered with  incomplete, misleading information as to the material facts?

It appears to be the case in Potomac Crossing, Leesburg, VA where Home Buyers received HOA documents that included a MAP of the community with the elementary school near by marked on the map but the Mormon church was NOT marked.  Many Home Buyers were told that the lot was common area and nothing ever was going to be built on it.   The HOA docs should have had the information current as of  a date-specified on the Association Disclosure Packet but did NOT.

Again,  Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act IS THE STATE LAW – whenever there is a proof that the law was violated, an attorney should be contacted for legal advise.



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With the increase in Short Sales beginning in 2007, there was a growing pressure on the listing agents to disclose in the Multiple Listing Service that the Buyer’s offer is contingent on “third party approval” or “lender approval required.”  The short sales often take 30-90 days to close, and the idea behind the “third party approval” disclosure was to make this information available to the Buyers.

National Association of REALTORS left this decision up to the local Multiple Listing Services – MRIS in the Washington, D.C. area  (Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania).   MLSs are given the authority to decide whether or not their participants have to disclose reasonably-known short sales.

In the State of Virginia, Virginia Association of REALTORS through its Special Counsel, Lem Marshall, defended the Sellers’ legal right to keep their personal and financial information confidential.

Lem Marshall stated that there is NO law in Virginia that requires the Seller to disclose to the Buyer that they are in financial distress.  Therefore, MRIS cannot require the Seller or the listing agent to disclose such information which has the potential to damage the Seller.

This Seller’s legal right is reinforced by the Code of Virginia which lists duties that listing agents owe to their clients.  The Code states that “Licensee representing the Seller shall maintain the confidence of all personal and financial information gained during the Brokerage relationship, as well as any other information that the Seller does not want to make public, unless the law requires otherwise.”  As VAR’s Special Counsel, Lem Marshall, stated there is no law in Virginia that requires the Seller to disclose to the Buyer that the Seller is in financial distress.

Revealing the information in MLS-MRIS that the offer will need “third party approval” may be detrimental to the Seller’s efforts and may bring out the real estate vultures rather than Buyers who are willing to pay a fair market value.  The Sellers’ goal is to receive the best possible offer for their property, as allowed by the market conditions.

There are times when the Seller may want to disclose the “lender approval required” information.  If the Seller is facing a foreclosure and needs to sell the house as soon as possible, then the Seller may decide that it is in their best interest to give as much information as possible to encourage any and all offers to prevent the foreclosure.

Bottom line: disclosing the “short sale” in the MLS-MRIS should always be the Sellers’ decision – depending on the Sellers’ circumstances.  It is the Sellers’ decision, not the MLS’s decision.

Seller should have input in to how the property is advertised in the MLS and otherwise.

The listing agents are required to follow the Seller’s choice under the Code of Virginia and under the REALTORS’ Code of Ethics that require to retain in confidence all the information that might be damaging to the Seller.  This should not be confused with the listing agent’s duties to the public to disclose all the material facts.  Material facts are the facts that influence the Buyer’s decision to purchase the property, .

The “short sale” information is disclosed to the Buyer once the Buyer decides to submit an OFFER for the property.  It is at this time that the Buyer must make a decision as to whether wait for the lender’s approval or to look for another property.  If the property is reasonably priced and in good condition, many Buyers do not mind the 30-90 days waiting period.  It is win-win situation for both, the Seller and the Buyer.


Source: Virginia Association of REALTORS, Dulles Area Association of REALTORS



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Governors’ Mortgage Clinic Planned In Northern Virginia Next Month
Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced the schedule for a series of free regional mortgage clinics to help Virginians avoid home foreclosure. The clinics will include general foreclosure prevention information, as well as individual foreclosure counseling sessions with certified housing counselors trained in loss mitigation and foreclosure prevention.

Clinics will last approximately 90 minutes, including a 30-minute general session and the free foreclosure counseling. To register for a clinic counseling session, please visit the Virginia Foreclosure Prevention Task Force website.

The Northern Virginia clinics will take place on Saturday, June 21st from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Chantilly High School, 4201 Stringfellow Road, Chantilly and Northern Virginia Community College – Woodbridge Campus, 15200 Neabsco Mills Road, Woodbridge.


Source: Dulles Area Association of REALTORS 

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