Thursday, November 3, 2016

Corps Letter Clarifies JDs for Wetlands Permits

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week issued a Regulatory Guidance Letter in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hawkes v. United States.

In that decision, the court said that a jurisdictional determination—in which the Corps decides whether a piece of land should be subject to federal oversight under the Clean Water Act—is something that a developer can take to court.

The guidance letter clarifies the differences between the two kinds of jurisdictional determinations and how builders and developers can obtain them.

Jurisdictional determinations are important because developers have no way of knowing whether a feature is jurisdictional simply by looking at it. However, once the Corps issues a jurisdictional determination, it carries significant legal and financial consequences on everything from lending practices to state rules and regulations.

The Supreme Court said in Hawkes that when the Corps determines the precise boundaries of jurisdictional waters on a landowner’s property, that landowner can dispute the determination in court.

The new guidance—the first of its kind issued by the Obama Administration—accepts the Supreme Court decision and provides guidance to the Corps’ staff (and public) explaining when it is appropriate to issue an approved jurisdictional determination or preliminary jurisdictional determinations or not make any determination at all.

The Corps guidance explains that approved jurisdictional determinations are official determinations that jurisdictional waters exist on one’s property, while preliminary jurisdictional determinations are not legally binding. Finally, the guidance provides the forms that property owners are to use when requesting that the Corps conduct an approved jurisdictional determination or preliminary jurisdictional determinations.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Chili Cookoff was a Delicious Success

Our annual Chili Cookoff was another great success this year! Thank you to more than 100 of our members who showed up to try the different chilis, take a look at the newly renovated Ferguson showroom, have some oysters, and enjoy a night among friends. We are grateful to have such a wonderful community in our industry!

A big congratulations to our Chili Cookoff and Dessert Contest winners!

Hottest Chili
Tex Mex Heat
Eddie Howard, APB, Howard Custom Builders

Best Presentation
Sweet Beats Heat
Bryn Brutosky, APB, Ryan Homes

Best Chili
Gale's $10,000 Chili
Richard Bernath, Southern Traditions Window Fashions

Best Dessert
Susan Smith, Ferguson Kitchen and Bath

The Professional Women in Building Council hosted a balloon pop and raffle to raise money for the South Carolina Builders Political Action Committee. Thank you to everyone who popped a balloon and entered the raffle, and congratulations to our many winners!

Thank you also to our sponsors for helping us with this event--thank you to Ferguson for hosting and being the presenting sponsor; thank you to Clark's Termite and Pest Control for providing and cooking the oysters; and thank you to Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet for sponsoring the chili and dessert contests.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Federal Housing Finance Agency Indices Show Little Movement in Mortgage Interest Rates in September

From the Federal Housing Finance Agency:

Nationally, interest rates on conventional purchase-money mortgages were nearly flat from August to September, according to several indices of new mortgage contracts.

The National Average Contract Mortgage Rate for the Purchase of Previously Occupied Homes by Combined Lenders Index was 3.61 percent for loans closed in late September, up 3 basis points from 3.58 percent in August.

The average interest rate on all mortgage loans was 3.60 percent, up 1 basis point from 3.59 in August.

The average interest rate on conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages of $417,000 or less was 3.73 percent, down 1 basis point from 3.74 in August.

The effective interest rate on all mortgage loans was 3.73 percent in September, up 1 basis point from 3.72 in August. The effective interest rate accounts for the addition of initial fees and charges over the life of the mortgage.

The average loan amount for all loans was $302,900 in September, down $19,800 from $322,700 in August.