Highlights of the 2010 Maryland General Assembly
by Dan Krell © 2010
Are you curious about new laws that may affect you as a home owner or home buyer? Now that the State legislative session is over, we can pour over the many bills affecting real estate. Some of the bills, such as a state home buyer tax credit, did not pass; however, there were many that did pass. Of the many that passed, here are the highlights:
Earlier this year, a transfer tax controversy stirred surrounding the decision by several local Maryland counties to collect transfer taxes on the forgiven mortgage amounts in short sales. In response to the controversy, Attorney General Gansler provided an opinion that temporarily deferred the contentious transfer tax collection. HB590 clarified the issue when it was signed into law on May 10th 2010, indicating that transfer taxes may not be collected on forgiven mortgage amounts in a short sale.
Low income residents who depend on the Maryland Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit program will find that the assessment limit will be raised from $300,000 to $450,000 (for tax years beginning after June 30, 2010). The tax credit program that has been around since 1975 limits the property tax paid depending on applicants’ income levels.
Federal employees who are stationed abroad get a break through an extension of the Maryland homestead credit. Normally, a home owner must reside in the home to receive the credit; however, HB 199 extends the Maryland homestead credit for federal employees who are stationed outside of Maryland. Effective for the tax year beginning after June 30th, 2010, the time limit to claim the homestead credit while outside of Maryland is six years.
Beginning October 1st, 2010, real estate sales contracts will be required to inform home buyers they have the opportunity to appeal the tax assessment on their new home. To appeal, the home purchase must be between January 1st and July 1st and must be made within the first sixty days of ownership.
Home owners in foreclosure are provided additional assistance through the new foreclosure mediation law (HB 472). The law that became effective July 1st, 2010 is supposed to give homeowners additional time and support to seek foreclosure relief by allowing a mediator assist the process. When lenders notify home owners of default, lenders are required to provide home owners foreclosure alternatives (such as lender and government mortgage modification programs). Before foreclosing, lenders are required to file affidavits describing foreclosure alternatives provided to the home owner as well as an opportunity for the home owner to “opt in” for foreclosure mediation.
Tenants residing in foreclosed homes are now extended additional protection under Maryland law. In addition to the notice that is required to be provided, HB 711 allows the tenant living in a foreclosed home an additional ninety day lease extension beyond the foreclosure sale. The law became effective June 1st.
Home owners filing bankruptcy later this year will have an increased homestead exemption, thanks to the passing of HB 456. Effective October 1st, the Maryland homestead exemption will now be equal to the federal exemption. The exemption can only be used for owner occupied properties and cannot be claimed by both husband and wife in the same proceedings.
Other new laws affecting real estate (ownership, transactions, etc) can be viewed on the “Legislative Wrap Up” of the Maryland Legislature (mlis.state.md.us).
This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of August 2, 2010. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2010 Dan Krell.