News & Issues

(November 27, 2018) First Time Home Buyer Savings Accounts

During the short 2018 Legislative Session, the Oregon Legislature took a significant step toward addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis by passing House Bill 4007, establishing a First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account program statewide. The program will allow Oregonians to take a state tax deduction for saving money towards a down payment and other related costs associated with the purchase of their first home. Polling indicated that 86 percent of Oregonians viewed saving enough for a down payment and closing costs as a significant obstacle to buying a home, prompting the Oregon Association of REALTORS® (OAR), among other prominent housing and related industry groups, to support the legislation. 

The program takes applies to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2019. On November 27, 2018 the Oregon Department of Revenue received comments on the proposed administrative rules. The rules provide the responsibilities for banks and credit unions to provide annual statements to account owners who have made qualifying deposits. Qualified savings would be held in a special account opened at any Oregon bank or credit union. Deposits into the account would be tax deductible up to $5,000 a year for individual filers and $10,000 a year for joint filers, with a maximum contribution of $50,000 over 10 years; interest earned on the account also would be tax free. Funds in the account must be used for a down payment or other closing costs associated with the purchase of an existing home or construction of a new home, of any type, and could only be used by people who have never owned a home or who have not owned a home in the last three years. 

HB 4007 (2018) can be found here, and the administrative rules can be found here. For more digestible information, the Oregon Department of Revenue has an excellent FAQ page.

The Oregon Association of REALTORS will be providing information to our members and future homebuyers as lenders provide offer the accounts to their customers.   

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Politics Without Party+

(February 16, 2018)

OAR Government Affairs Director Shawn Cleave provides his take on the political climate in the Oregon State Capitol during the current Legislative Session, and specifically the issues facing the fate of our First-Time Home Buyer savings Account bill.

Click on this PDF for Shawn's post, which also includes a link to the bill.

News Rules & Funding Sources for Woodsmoke & Septic System Compliance+

(February 9, 2018) 

During recent sessions, the Oregon Legislature enacted laws that address the environmental impacts of solid-fuel (wood burning) smoke and on-site septic systems.

This legislation established financial resources to help homeowners and business owners pay for the repair, replacement and/or abatement of non-compliant systems.

Why it Matters: The new laws can affect the property value and/or transactional terms of real property. Oregon REALTORS® can play an important role by guiding their clients to better understand the new laws and access financial assistance, as needed.

To learn more and help your clients, please refer to the sections below.

Low-Interest Loans for On-Site Septic Systems+

In 2016, Senate Bill 1563 created a low-interest loan program to help homeowners and businesses fix or replace failed septic systems.

The bill initially placed $250,000 with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to fund the loan program; DEQ then partnered with a third party to administer and issue loans. In 2017, DEQ received budget approval for an additional $1.5 million to fund the program.

The REALTORS® Role:

  • Get familiar with the sections regarding Sewer & Septic Systems in the Buyer and Seller Advisories here, the language of the original Senate bill, and an early 2017 report on successful loans made by the program in support of additional funding by the legislature that year.
  • Get educated about the low-interest loan program by visiting the Oregon DEQ’s Septic Smart web portal, where you and your clients can find DEQ-approved septic system professionals and tips for real estate buyers and sellers. Also visit the loan administrator’s website to understand the terms of these low-interest loans.
  • Get ahead of the issue by recognizing properties with on-site septic systems and the proper paperwork for real estate transactions to reduce your risk and that of your clients.

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Grants to Reduce Woodsmoke Emissions+

The smoke produced by uncertified solid-fuel (and especially wood) burning appliances can reduce visibility, affect human health, and damage crops, property and the environment. Certified wood stoves reduce fine particle emissions by 70%; pellet stoves and oil or gas furnaces/stoves produce even fewer pollutants.

In 2017, House Bill 2748 modified the existing law to:

  • Allow private donations to help fund the Modified Residential Solid Fuel Heating Air Quality Improvement Fund, in addition to its original public funding.
  • Enable the ability to offer and issue rebates, addition to grants, loans, and other subsidies, to help pay for compliance.
  • Direct DEQ to design a program that reduces the emission of air contaminants by providing grants, loans, rebates, or other subsidies to make dry wood or cleaner fuel available to communities or individuals

The original 2009 law and the recent modifications above give DEQ a broad scope in developing programs to reduce woodsmoke emissions. Such programs are likely to be utilized by a community (city or county) applying for a grant to create a local program that would then help individual homeowners get their solid-fuel appliances into compliance.

For instance, Washington County, Ore., west of Portland, maintains a woodstove exchange program and is accepting donations to provide rebates of $1,500-$3,500 to replace old wood stoves for cleaner heating devices.

The REALTORS® Role:

  • Get familiar with the sections regarding Woodstoves in the Buyer and Seller Advisories here.
  • Get educated about the effects of CO2 emissions by visiting the Oregon DEQ’s online Heat Smart Program page regarding the sale or purchase of a home with a wood stove or fireplace insert, and its general Residential Wood Stoves page.
  • Get ahead of the issue by recognizing properties with older, likely uncertified solid-fuel (and especially wood) burning appliances and the proper paperwork for real estate transactions to reduce your risk and that of your clients.
  • Get active by considering a donation to help fund the Washington County Wood Stove Exchange Program.

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