Here's What Florida Realtors Is Watching During the 2022 Session
Florida Realtors serves as the voice of real estate in Florida. We provide programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to more than 225,000 members in 51 boards/associations. Our mission is to advance Florida's real estate industry by shaping public policy on real property issues. We're in the state Capitol watching out for Realtors and property owners' interests — on everything from rising property insurance costs to affordable housing.
Here are the issues we're closely watching during the 2022 Florida legislative session:
Hometown Hero Housing Program
Florida is experiencing a housing affordability crisis. The pandemic, a growing population and other economic factors have put increasing pressure on housing for many Floridians. Consider that in 2021, the median price of a single-family home in Florida was $355,000, up 18.3% from one year earlier — and a staggering 81.1% more than just five years before. Yet household income isn’t rising at nearly the same pace.
Homeownership is often out of reach for many front-line workers and educators, whose salaries fall well below the amount needed to buy a home. While some of these professionals earn enough to afford a monthly payment, they often cannot save for the down payment needed to qualify for a competitive mortgage. To help ease the housing burden on these hometown heroes, we ask that lawmakers support Senate Bill 788 by Sen. Ed Hooper.
This legislation would create the Hometown Hero Housing Program (HHHP), a new zero-interest revolving loan program that provides down payment and closing cost assistance to front-line and emergency workers.
The HHHP would complement — not take away from — existing federal, state and local efforts to increase affordable housing opportunities for Floridians. It would be similar in structure to the successful Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. We urge lawmakers to support SB 788 to help the heroes who have done so much for us.
We also ask that lawmakers continue to support funding for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) and State Apartment Incentive Loan programs (SAIL), serving low-income Floridians. SHIP funds provide first-time homebuyers with down payment and closing cost assistance and are used to preserve existing housing. SAIL funds are used to rehabilitate existing apartments in dire need of repair or to build new units where needed.
The June 2021 collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Fla., killed nearly a 100 people and left survivors with significant financial hurdles. The severity of the tragedy has highlighted the need to review current laws governing the construction, maintenance and daily operation of these residential buildings.
The collapse also underscores the need for increased access to important community association documents to ensure buyers have a complete understanding of the rules, fees and financial situation of the real estate they are considering purchasing.
Florida Realtors® has been involved in condominium issues for decades. Following the Surfside tragedy, we worked with a number of stakeholders to identify changes that would benefit owners and buyers.
As such, we urge lawmakers to seek solutions that provide greater transparency regarding the official records of community associations. Prospective buyers should have the information necessary to make informed decisions about their purchases.
Rising Property Insurance Costs
Property insurance costs continue to rise at alarming levels in many parts of Florida due to a number of factors. These include frequent hurricanes and severe storms, natural catastrophes, rising reinsurance rates and most importantly, the increasing litigation costs insurance companies are being forced to pay.
Higher insurance costs and lower levels of coverage due to changing underwriting guidelines are making homeownership unaffordable for many Floridians and driving private insurers out of certain areas of the state.
During Florida’s 2021 legislative session, Florida Realtors® supported comprehensive property insurance legislation designed to address Florida’s escalating insurance costs. The reforms contained in this new law, such as the limits placed on the fees that attorneys representing claimants may receive, are still working their way through the insurance industry and have not yet fully impacted insurers or consumers.
While these reforms are being implemented, we urge lawmakers to continue to explore solutions to Florida’s insurance problems and to support sensible legislation that balances the need for property insurance relief with measures that ensure Florida's insurance industry remains healthy and competitive.
Business Rent Tax
Florida Realtors® is grateful for the actions of previous legislatures that lowered the state sales tax rate on commercial leases, known as the Business Rent Tax. This tax rate currently stands at 5.5% but will drop to 2% in the coming years based on the work of the 2021 Legislature.
During the 2022 legislative session, we ask lawmakers to support Senate Bill 1558 by Sen. Joe Gruters and House Bill 6093 by Rep. Tommy Gregory. These bills would eliminate this burdensome tax and give Florida businesses the financial resources needed to grow their companies and enrich their communities.
Lowering the business rent tax will provide Florida businesses with the capital to expand, hire more employees, buy new equipment, improve benefits and raise salaries. It would also diminish a potential barrier to out of state businesses contemplating a move to Florida.
Water Quality and Environmental Funding
We urge lawmakers to support, at a minimum, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget recommendation of $980 million for environmental programs. This includes funding for Everglades and springs restoration, wastewater and resiliency programs, the Florida Forever Program and efforts to combat the effects of harmful algae blooms.
Help Floridians Strengthen Their Homes
We ask lawmakers to support Senate Bill 1250 by Sen. Joe Gruters and House Bill 863 by Rep. Nick DiCeglie, which provide a sales tax refund for building materials used to harden homes against natural disasters. These bills would help Floridians strengthen homes, keep more money in their pockets and help fight insurance rate increases.
Private Property Rights
We ask lawmakers to support legislation that creates a statewide, uniform system of common sense regulations for vacation rentals while protecting private property rights.