May 9, 2012

USDA Continuing to Exclude Rural Loans from Environmental Reviews

We've recently heard from some of our members that questions are still arising about the Department of Agriculture's exemption of rural home loans from environmental reviews. A March article in the New York Times reported that emails were sent to landowners and members of Congress from officials in the agency's Washington and regional offices indicating that the agency may be vulnerable to litigation if they did not conduct the reviews. Following the story's publication, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the information did not accurately reflect the agency's plans. He said a new final notice, which expires April 30, 2013, authorizes that rural housing loans are "categorically excluded" from reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires some transactions to be examined for their affect on soil, air and water. In the notice, Vilsack said, "USDA will not make any policy changes related to rural housing loans. The information provided to Congressional offices on March 8, 2012 was premature and does not reflect past, current or future practices of the department." Read More >     

Attorney General Issues Opinion on Homestead Exemptions

In October, State Representative Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville) filed a request for opinion with the Attorney General regarding homestead exemptions from property taxation, which are a result of House Bill 252, which went into effect Sept. 1, 2011. The request, which you may view here, asked seven main questions, mostly dealing with the proof required for military personnel and non-documented aliens to receive homestead exemptions. On Tuesday, the Attorney General issued an opinion answering these questions, which you may view here.          

ALTA Asks FHA to Coordinate Private Transfer Fee Rule With FHFA

The American Land Title Association joined the Community Associations Institute, the National Association of Realtors, the Institute of Real Estate Management and the National Association of Homebuilders in a letter last week to urge the Federal Housing Administration to avoid promulgating an, &quotadditional and potentially conflicting federal standard on transfer fee covenants." FHA is considering updating its April 2010 ruling on private transfer fee covenants. Based on preliminary discussions, FHA is preparing a rule that would conflict with the final rule proposed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency in March. ALTA and the other trade associations would like the updated rule to mirror the FHFA's rule as well as state laws on private transfer fee covenants.

Don't Miss These PAC Events at TLTA's Annual Conference!

There are several TLTAPAC events you won't want to miss at TLTA's Annual Conference & Business Meeting in Fort Worth, June 14-16. Evan Smith, the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Tribune will discuss state politics and the upcoming 2013 Legislative Session at the PAC Annual Meeting and Breakfast on Friday, June 15. During Saturday's PAC breakfast, you'll hear an inspirational speech from former star wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys Drew Pearson. You also won't want to miss the Bert Massey Classic Golf Tournament on Thursday, June 14th at the beautiful Dallas Cowboys Golf Club. Register for the Annual Conference and these TLTAPAC events here, or if you are already registered for the Conference and only need to add TLTAPAC events, please fill out the form here.