Supreme Court: Is That Water on Your Property?

March 25, 2016

Real estate professionals should pay close attention to an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case. Justices will be weighing in on when property owners can sue the federal government if they think their property has been wrongly determined to have a wetlands on it, and thus is subject to development restrictions.

Right now, an owner has to go through a lengthy and expensive permitting process before one can file a lawsuit challenging the government’s assertion that the property has water on it.

It's an especially pressing issue today, because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency have published rules that would expand the scope of properties that are subject to the Clean Water Act, so more property owners can expect to be hit with a requirement that they get a permit under the act before they can build anything on their land. The court hearing is in another month or two.

That issue is a top story in The Voice for Real Estate for the week of March 21. Check out the latest episode for information on these other top real estate stories:

From Renting to Owning: There's an increasing concern among renters about their prospects of becoming home owners. Although most renters continue to aspire to home ownership, the percentage is dropping because of continuing high home prices. As renters age, many choose to head out to the suburbs instead of continuing to live in urban areas. NAR research suggests schools are a big reason for the change in sentiment.

FHA Condo Financing: The House passed legislation that would let people use FHA financing to buy a condo even if only 35 percent of the units are owner occupied. That’s a big reduction from current rules, which require at least half of all units to be owner occupied. Other changes would allow projects to have more commercial space and make it easier for condo boards to get their projects certified for financing.  NAR is asking the Senate to take up the bill, which passed 227-0 in the House.

NAR’s Legal Action Program: This program has helped hundreds of brokers and associations over the years fight legal battles by providing them money or expert legal assistance. NAR Deputy General Counsel Ralph Holmen talks about the hundreds of cases that have been helped by the program, and he goes over what criteria the association looks for in deciding whether to provide legal help.