Visit the NAR website to view the various issues facing REALTORS at the national level.
Visit the PAR website to review the PAR legislative policies and priorities.
Listed below are R-BAR's adopted policy statements on issues related to real estate in Berks County.
Comprehensive Land Use Planning
With a population of over 400,000, it is essential that Berks County finds common ground where developers, environmentalists, public officials, citizens, and others meet the challenge of accommodating growth. How these strategies are determined affects the livelihood of every REALTOR®, and the interests of Berks County’s homeowners, property owners, and tenants. The Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® (R-BAR) believes we can build better communities by supporting smart growth, and seeking sustainable economies and housing opportunities that embrace the qualities we cherish, while protecting property rights.
There are times when government may need to take private property for public use. Building hospitals, municipal buildings or public utilities exemplify these needs. Government’s use of the eminent domain power should be limited and closely monitored. As the vanguard for the real estate industry in Berks County, the Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® (R-BAR) will work diligently to protect an individual’s right to own and maintain property, and to appropriately limit the government’s reach and ability to take that property.
Impact fees are financial levies imposed on developers to pay for capital improvements within a development which are assessed to service the community. While impact fees are ultimately used to benefit a community, they also increase the overall cost of housing. When a community imposes an impact fee on new development, the actual costs are passed on to the purchaser through increased lot prices. These fees are a detriment to Pennsylvania's housing consumers, contribute to urban sprawl as developers seek jurisdictions without these fees, and disproportionately disadvantage lower income households. The Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® (R-BAR) opposes any expansion or increase in existing fees.
Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA)
Act No. 76 of 1977, known as the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA), authorizes local taxing authorities to exempt new construction and property rehabilitation in deteriorated areas of economically depressed communities and improvements to certain deteriorated industrial, commercial, and other business property. This is a vital tool in encouraging growth and revitalization in our struggling communities, and the Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® (R-BAR) fully supports this program.
Private Property Rights
It is the inherent right of every individual to acquire and possess real property without fearing that their rights may be eliminated by governmental action. As a cornerstone of the real estate industry, the Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® (R-BAR) opposes any actions that weaken an individual’s right to own and preserve private property.
Realty Transfer Tax
A real estate transfer tax is a state and local tax assessed on real property when ownership of the property is exchanged between parties. All types of real property, including residential, commercial, and agricultural, are subject to the transfer tax. Pennsylvania currently has one of the highest transfer taxes in the nation, exceeding that of six neighboring states. The City of Reading's transfer tax is the highest in Pennsylvania. These costs discourage home ownership and negatively impact housing costs and the industry as a whole.
Transfer taxes can also be harmful to the local government itself. While the revenue generated by the realty transfer tax during times of economic prosperity and a corresponding housing upturn can be sizable, the amount of revenue actually earned from the tax fluctuates as the supply and demand for housing vacillates due to varying economic conditions, leading to financial instability and insolvency of local governments who rely on transfer taxes as a part of their operating budget. As an unstable source of revenue, earnings gained from the realty transfer tax should not be attached to a general operating budget of either state or local government.
The Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® (R-BAR) opposes any and every increase in the realty transfer tax at the state and local level. Furthermore, we urge the repeal of any established transfer tax.
Rental Property Inspections
Rental Property Inspection programs are intended to ensure the safety of residents within the municipality. However, mandating rental property inspections is an excessive infringement on the private property rights of a single class of property owners. R-BAR supports working with local municipalities to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of all residents, regardless of whether they rent or own their home. We believe that municipalities can enact legislation to ensure resident safety while not placing an undue burden on a select portion of the population.
Residents looking to sell their homes and individuals looking to buy these homes look for a speedy, fair process during the time of settlement.The Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® (R-BAR) opposes any county or municipal ordinance which would add procedures, inspections, or fees during the time of settlement. If a locality decides to pursue such procedures, they should do so with a dedicated timetable, and work to minimize the cost and impact on the buyer and sellers.
Advertising the sale of property is essential to the livelihood of the real estate industry and the homeowners whom REALTORS® represent. The Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® (R-BAR) opposes any county or municipal ordinance that would restrict or hinder REALTORS® from placing signs on a “for sale” property or from placing directional signs to navigate potential buyers to a “for sale” property.