The Pinellas Realtor® Organization periodically provides position statements stating the association’s opinion on issues pertaining to the real estate industry and the housing sector in Pinellas County. The information contained within this document serves as a guide for lobbying and issue advocacy activities.
A credit line citing the Pinellas Realtor® Organization as the copyright holder must be included when reprinting or reproducing PRO position statements.
All policy statements are approved by the Board of Directors and remain consistent with the organization’s objectives to:
- Unite those engaged in the recognized branches of the real estate profession for the purpose of exerting a beneficial influence upon the profession and related interests.
- Promote and maintain high standards of conduct in the real estate profession as expressed in the Code of Ethics of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
- Provide a unified medium for real estate owners and those engaged in the real estate profession whereby their interests may be safeguarded and advanced.
- Further the interests of home ownership and other real property ownership. To unite those engaged in the real estate profession in this community with the FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® thereby furthering their own objectives throughout the state and nation, and obtaining the benefit and privileges of membership therein.
- Designate, for the benefit of the public, those individuals authorized to use the term “REALTOR® ” or “REALTORS® ” as licensed, prescribed and controlled by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® .
In order to ensure that all citizens; especially our area’s workforce – have access to housing, PRO recognizes the need for the production and rehabilitiation of quality, safe, and affordable housing. We will continue to work with our partners in local government and state government to ensure all monies collected by government for affordable housing should be used for affordable housing initiatives.
Recognizing that brownfield sites present excellent opportunities for the economic, environmental and social enrichment of our community, PRO supports programs designed to revitalize brownfields. PRO believes that local governments, in conjunction with the state and federal government, should be committed to providing the services necessary to identify and redevelop brownfield sites, while removing the liability of innocent property owners. PRO supported NAR’s efforts to lobby for the enactment of the “Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act”.
PRO supported the Barrier Islands Governmental Council’s efforts to: 1) maintain the Coastal Construction Control Line in its current location, and 2). Maintain local government jurisdiction or oversight over the construction/building permitting process as it concerns the CCCL. PRO shall continue to monitor developments concerning this issue, which could impact property values and property rights of owners throughout the county’s beach communities – particularly those located along the intracoastal waterway.
PRO supports Florida Realtors® opposition to any efforts to increase documentary stamp taxes. Such an increase will have a negative impact on closing costs, homeownership affordability, and a real estate professional’s commission.
Issues concerning education and school zoning are of great interest and concern to REALTORS® and their clients, especially those with children. We continue to support increased funding of our school system which includes higher teacher pay, funding for the arts, and renewed focus on teaching work force skills. We will continue to monitor how tax dollars are spent to ensure as much funding as possible goes directly into the classroom.
PRO recognizes that enterprise zones provide excellent investment and business opportunities. Various financial incentives are offered to businesses and property owners located within the Enterprise Zone, all designed to encourage private investment, community revitalization and job creation. As appropriate, PRO shall work to promote Enterprise Zones as a means for economic development and investment opportunities in Pinellas County.
The protection of our environment is one of the most important issues facing our communities today. Realtors® believe that our quality of life must be safeguarded by the careful balancing of housing affordability, environmental conservation, and economic progress initiatives. The Pinellas Realtor® Organization is a strong supporter of voluntary green initiatives and ordinances that will help make homes more environmentally friendly, without unreasonably raising the cost of homeownership.
In the interest of keeping homeownership affordable, while ensuring that redevelopment in our nearly “built-out” county is encouraged, PRO is concerned about and will continue to monitor any proposed new or increased impact fees, particularly those levied on residential construction.
The Pinellas Realtor® Organization considers affordable housing essential to the continued growth and progress of our communities. However, PRO is opposed to any program that mandates the inclusion of affordable housing in developments. PRO believes that mandatory inclusionary zoning puts an undue burden on developers and has the potential to stifle new development in Pinellas County. It could also jeopardize Pinellas County’s economic future. We believe that the current voluntary program that offers incentives for the inclusion of affordable housing is the most equitable, effective, and efficient method for providing affordable housing in Pinellas County.
PRO is concerned about the potential displacement effect on property taxes if Internet sales result in a significant decrease in state sales tax collections or revenues, as is projected. Florida, which has no state income tax and is heavily dependent upon sales tax revenues, may lose a projected $1.3-billion annually as a result of sales taxes from Internet sales not being collected. PRO is concerned that this trend could result in an increased burden on property taxes.
PRO will continue to monitor issues pertaining to land use codes and efforts designed to amend such codes throughout Pinellas County. Any measure deemed counterproductive to the real estate industry and/or private property rights will be opposed by PRO.
A Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program is an incentive-based financing program that enables property owners to improve the energy efficiency of a property. In Florida, the program can be used for hurricane wind mitigation as well as seawall repair. Unfortunately, PACE loans have an adverse effect on mortgage availability and long-term homeownership affordability. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) does not allow Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Federal Home Loan Banks to purchase mortgages encumbered by PACE liens. Today, approximately 75% of residential properties utilize Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Federal Home Loan Banks to finance residential mortgages either directly or indirectly. In a community that has a high number of senior citizens, first time homebuyers, veterans, and those in search of workforce housing, it does not seem prudent to engage in a program that could deny 75% of the market to a property.
PRO opposes municipal ordinances that would restrict the efforts of PRO and Florida Realtors® to exercise their first amendment rights as it pertains to campaign communication by Political Action Committees (PAC).
Point-of-Sale Inspection (POSI) programs pertaining to real estate can be ordinances enforced, taxes imposed, and/or assessments on property at the time it’s sold. The goal of most POS programs is to meet wide-scale infrastructure needs. Common POS programs are inspection and possible replacement of sidewalks, lateral sewer pipes, and other common infrastructure. Unfortunately, the programs add costs for sellers and buyers, deficiencies could be considered ‘material defect’, and they could complicate or delay sale of properties. Furthermore, they rarely, if ever, accomplish the goal for which they were intended. PRO opposes any efforts to attach a point-of-sale inspection provisions to real estate transactions.
Recognizing that protecting private property rights is the cornerstone of the real estate industry, PRO supports initiatives that are designed to protect these rights. PRO is committed to supporting the ongoing efforts of both the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and Florida Realtors® (FR) that protect private property rights. PRO will oppose any effort to weaken Fifth Amendment rights, and will support legislation and regulatory efforts to expand these rights, which are inherent to all Americans.
In the interest of maintaining homeownership affordability, PRO opposes increases in property tax rates. Property owners are subject to a variety of burdensome taxes and fees, and the costs associated with homeownership (particularly insurance) continue to increase. Instead of increasing property tax rates for generating revenues for various projects, services and initiatives, PRO encourages local governments to fully explore, utilize and exhaust all other potential options available for generating revenues.
PRO supports the expansion of protected classes in housing to include LGBTQ persons. While this topic is gaining traction at the Federal and State government levels, we urge local governments to act in their stead and provide this common sense protection from discrimination to members of our community. At the same time, PRO opposes “lawful source of income” as a protected class. Many sources of income are considered lawful but could be concerning to a property owner qualifying a tenant. Examples of lawful income that often do not qualify range from employment or sales bonuses to winnings from gambling. Forced acceptance of sources of income is an undue burden that could force property owner to rent to tenants that otherwise should now qualify.
Realtors, other real estate related professionals, and the financial services industry are considered essential. In times of pandemics, storms, and other societal impacts it is the prerogative of governments to take steps to protect the people and property of the community. Should the government feel the need to limit businesses from operating then they should exempt real estate professionals and other members of the financial services industry from any restrictions. Real Estate is important as it facilitates the transaction of shelter and other property necessary to a safe and healthy community. Often these transactions are the difference between a family having a home or not, which can be especially dangerous in uncertain times. Furthermore, the real estate industry has developed technology, tools, and processes that limit or eliminate the risk and exposure of individuals in involved in a real estate transaction.
In order to mitigate problems associated with growth while maintaining the quality of life for Pinellas County’s citizens, PRO supports sustainable development and “Smart Growth”, and seeks to be an integral part of helping our community meet the challenges associated with growth. PRO is also committed to being an integral part of local growth and planning decisions. Pinellas County is approximately 97% “built-out.” The future viability of our economy is substantially dependent upon the redevelopment and revitalization of aging and antiquated commercial and residential structures. As deemed appropriate, PRO will continue to make every effort to support quality, sustainable redevelopment and revitalization initiatives. Land use and growth management decisions should be made primarily by local governments, with an appropriate degree of state oversight. To combat the negative impact of sprawl, the state should provide incentives to local governments to redevelop and revitalize areas currently served by existing infrastructure. PRO recognizes that the viability, integrity and vibrancy of an urban downtown area is largely dependent upon a consistent flow of pedestrian traffic. Therefore, it is important for local (re)development projects/initiatives to include a substantive (high-density) residential component.
PRO supports concepts associated with creating a safer, more livable, aesthetically pleasing and economically viable community. PRO supports efforts designed to prevent the proliferation of “slum” properties while protecting the integrity of our neighborhoods.
PRO shall continue to work with the Pinellas County Housing Authority on furthering the Section 8 Homeownership Program in Pinellas County – thereby further increasing homeownership rates in Pinellas County, particularly amongst citizens of modest financial means.
In the interest of protecting private property rights, PRO is opposed to governmental efforts to place restrictions on or prohibit short-term rental agreements. PRO believes that such rental agreements should be governed by the appropriate condominium or homeowner’s association, not a governmental entity.
PRO will continue to closely monitor issues pertaining to local sign ordinances, specifically those that govern real estate signage. PRO is committed to continuing to work with local governments on ensuring that sign ordinances effectively facilitate – and not deter — real estate business in Pinellas County.
The Pinellas Realtor® Organization supports efforts to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in Tampa Bay.
The Pinellas Realtor® Organization (PRO) considers an adequate transportation system to be of the utmost importance. PRO supports efforts to bring multimodal transit options to the region. PRO believes that a robust bus system, adequate roadway infrastructure, and fixed guide way transportation are critical components to the Tampa Bay area’s long range planning efforts.
PRO is concerned about the increasing budgetary pressures being exerted on county and municipal governments resulting from certain state and federal government actions. PRO is concerned that such actions will continue to result in increased property tax rates and other increased fiscal burdens being placed on homeowners, thereby making the American Dream of Homeownership less affordable and attainable. PRO is committed to working with elected officials, government staff and various interest groups at all to reduce the fiscal pressure being placed on local governments and their citizens.