What’s On Tap for Virginia REALTORS<sup>®</sup> In the 2021 General Assembly?

The 2021 Virginia General Assembly Session will present a unique set of political and logistical circumstances that Virginia REALTORS® must navigate to be successful in our upcoming legislative efforts.

Most of the legislative sessions and committee meetings will be held virtually with limited or no physical access from advocacy groups. Many members of the House of Delegates won’t even come to Richmond in January, opting instead to participate from their hometowns. This means lots of Zoom meetings, phone calls, e-mails, and text messages to legislators to spread our message.

There’s also disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on whether the legislative session should last the normal 46 days or be shortened to 30 days.  Legislative leaders have limited the number of bills that can be introduced this year with the House set at seven bills and the Senate able to introduce 12.

All 100 members of the House of Delegates will be up for election in November of 2021 and several sitting legislators have announced intentions to run for statewide political office next year. This dynamic will create a heightened awareness of policy decisions on the political contest in next year’s primary and general elections.

With all of that in mind, the Virginia REALTORS® Public Policy Committee and leadership has approved the following issues for inclusion in our 2021 Legislative Agenda.

Our Agenda

 Association Health Plans

Virginia law already allows certain business and trade groups to pool together in an Association Health Plan (AHP) to offer their members another choice for affordable, quality health insurance. Because of the self-employed status of our members, thousands of Virginia REALTORS® are prohibited from accessing affordable coverage through AHPs. Virginia REALTORS® sought legislation in the 2020 General Assembly that would have allowed this option for our Association and other qualified self-employed business groups.  While the legislation passed with overwhelming bi-partisan majorities, it was ultimately vetoed by the Governor.  In the 2021 General Assembly, Virginia REALTORS® will seek a narrowly tailored law that will specifically allow our association to pursue the AHP option, thus limiting the potential impact on the broader health insurance market.

Consumer Awareness – Flood Risk Report 

Virginia REALTORS® will seek legislation to create a Flood Risk Report from the data already on public websites of the on the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).  The legislation would also add this provision to the Buyer Beware Disclosure.  The Flood Risk Report would be a simplified and easily accessible source of information on flooding and flood insurance for potential homebuyers.

Property Owners and Condo Owners Associations (POA/COA) 

Virginia REALTORS® will work with stakeholders in the Common Interest Community to introduce legislation that will allow property owner and condo unit owners associations to conduct regular and annual meetings through electronic means. The Attorney General has already opined that these meetings can be held electronically but stakeholders believe it would be prudent to add this to the Virginia Code. 

Landlord – Tenant/Foreclosure

Federal legislation re-enacted the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) in 2018. The PTFA requires that a purchaser at foreclosure allow a tenant to continue to occupy the rental dwelling unit for up to 90 days if the purchaser is buying the house as their home and up to the balance of the term of the existing lease if the purchaser is buying the house for investment.  Virginia REALTORS® will seek legislation to conform Virginia law to the PTFA.

How can you help?

Because our Government Relations team will be limited in our access to legislators and their staff during the 2021 Virginia General Assembly Session, we’ll rely even more on the unified voice of our 35,000 REALTORS® to support pro-real estate legislation and oppose bills that will hurt you and you clients.

Calls for Action

Be on the lookout for more Calls for Action (CFA) this year. We will likely need to do CFAs as key legislation moves through the legislative process, whether it’s targeting specific committees or the full House and Senate.  CFAs are a simple and easy way for us to send a mass, unified message to legislators.  It only takes a few moments and a couple of clicks for you to support our efforts.

Key Contacts

While our members send a strong message through the sheer number of CFA responses, a 1-on-1 connection with a familiar person speaks volumes.  If you have a close professional or personal relationship with a particular legislator, and you are willing to be our liaison to them this year, please let us know.  You can contact Anthony Reedy at areedy@virginiarealtors.org or 804-249-5719 to find out more information.

Send us your Feedback

While our team will continue provide updates on the 2021 Virginia REALTORS® Legislative Agenda as things develop, it is just as important for us to hear from you. If you have questions or thoughts about the agenda, please contact us at advocacy@virginiarealtors.org.