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    Sep 2003
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    Ala.: Law Passed to Limit Eminent Domain

    (August 4, 2005) -- Proclaiming Alabama the leader of a "property rights revolt" taking place across the United States, Gov. Bob Riley this week enacted the first state law that seeks to restrict the use of eminent domain for private commercial development.

    The law comes in response to the Supreme Court's June 23 decision, which granted municipalities the right to seize private homes for commercial development but also gave states the power to restrict the use of eminent domain for such purposes.

    Under the new Alabama statute, local and state governments may not use eminent domain to obtain property for residential, commercial, industrial, office, or retail projects—although it still may be used to secure land for roads, public buildings, and utilities as well as to combat blight.

    Washington-based lawyer Dana Berliner, who was on the losing side in the landmark Supreme Court property-rights case, said the Alabama law is a noble effort but warns that the blight provision is problematic, as existing state law is ambiguous on the definition of blight and, thereby, could create a loophole.

    Source: Associated Press (08/03/05); Rawls, Phillip

    Editor's Note: To learn more about the Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., visit the Eminent Domain page at REALTOR.org.

    U.S. Mortgage Demand Slips as Rates Rise
    (August 4, 2005) -- The Mortgage Bankers Association's index of mortgage application demand fell to 752.1 last week, as interest rates on fixed 30-year mortgages rose to their highest level since March.

    Rates increased 11 basis points to an average of 5.83 percent. Nonetheless, most mortgage experts say rates should still be attractive to consumers looking to buy homes or refinance.

    MBA reports that refinancing activity slid 3 percent and overall demand for U.S. home mortgages fell 0.3 percent during the week ended July 29. The organization reported that demand for purchase loans was up for the first time in four weeks, rising 1.9 percent; but the drop-off in refinancing activity continued last week, after an 11.4-percent decline the previous week.

    Source: National Post (CAN) (08/04/05)

    Ohio: Columbus Adds 1,000 Housing Unit
    (August 4, 2005) -- As part of a downtown resurgence, Columbus, Ohio, has added about 1,000 new housing units over the last two years. Another 2,500 residential units have been approved or proposed, according to the city.

    Columbus launched a downtown housing initiative in 2002 to draw more residents to the central business district. Before the initiative began, there were only about 2,500 residential units in the downtown area, says Bob McLaughlin, downtown development director for the city of Columbus.

    A recent study by the city showed that people are moving downtown primarily to live close to where they work. Other reasons for selecting a downtown home were proximity to the expressways, a mix of available activities, and cultural events.

    —By Jane Adler for REALTOR® Magazine Online

    Ga.: 100-foot Stream Buffer Ordinance Fails

    (August 4, 2005) -- Grassroots efforts by the Atlanta Board of REALTORS® helped defeat a proposal that would have required a 100-foot buffer between a stream and a home.

    Patrick Dennis, ABR’s governmental affairs director, says the 100-foot buffer, proposed by the Fulton County Environmental and Community Development staff, was 25 feet more than the North Georgia Water Planning District said was necessary.

    The association worked with a number of organizations—including the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association, the Council for Quality Growth, the Georgia Rental Housing Association, and the Atlanta Apartment Association—to push for a 75-foot ordinance.

    To stop the 100-foot ordinance from being passed, ABR mobilized its members to send more than 1,100 e-mail messages to Fulton County Commissioners, asking them to support the 75-foot ordinance. The efforts paid off when the county adopted the 75-foot proposal in May.

    “They definitely got the message that REALTORS® care about private property rights,” says Dennis.

    —By Bridget McCrea for REALTOR® Magazine Online

    Record-Breaking Traffic at REALTOR.com

    (August 4, 2005) -- Consumers used REALTOR.com in record numbers this summer—reinforcing the site as the No. 1 destination on the Internet for a prospective buyer's home search.

    REALTOR.com, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®' official real estate site, received 7.28 million unique visitors in May and 7.27 million unique visitors in June, a 16 percent jump in monthly traffic since the beginning of the year. The June traffic also is a 28 percent increase over June 2004.

    Overall page views for REALTOR.com's home page reached 1.8 billion in June, which is a 7 percent increase since January.

    "These numbers truly demonstrate that consumers are using REALTOR.com as their primary destination to shop for real estate online," says Allan Dalton, president and CEO of REALTOR.com.

    —REALTOR® Magazine Online

    News source:
    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx


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