The Georgia REALTORS® represents almost 37,000 real estate professionals in the state of Georgia. Our Association and its members believe that REALTORS® have a role to play in every community faced with the challenges of growth and quality of life issues that are important to all Georgians. We believe that home ownership and commercial properties positively impact neighborhoods, communities, and the economic stability of our great state. The following policy statements have been approved by the Board of Directors of the Georgia Association of REALTORS® (GAR) to serve as official positions of GAR.
WATER SUPPLY AND CONSERVATION
In 2004, Georgia adopted its first statewide comprehensive water management plan to ensure water resources are utilized in a sustainable manner that support the state’s economy, protect public health and natural systems, and enhance the quality of life for all citizens. Additional conservation efforts to pass statewide legislation to mandate the retrofit of older plumbing fixtures at the point of sale have failed; however, local governments are not prohibited from adopting point-of-sale mandates. In 2007, DeKalb County was successful in passing a point-of-service mandate, which requires purchasers of homes built prior to 1993 to verify all plumbing fixtures have been retrofit prior to receiving water service.
The Georgia REALTORS’® Position
The Georgia REALTORS® believe that water is a vital commodity essential to life, prosperity, and economic development. As a valued commodity, water supply and water usage behaviors are subject to supply and demand market factors. We support market-based conservation measures and oppose any point-of-sale government mandates.
GAR supports measures to increase Georgia’s water supply including expediting the permitting and development of new reservoirs and raising the levels of existing reservoirs. We believe that Georgia must increase the state’s water storage capacity in order to prepare for projected increases in population.
GAR supports responsible market-driven conservation measures and oppose any point-of-sale government mandates such as retrofit-at-resale. Conservation measures supported by the Georgia REALTORS® include:
- An incentive pricing scale which would encourage users to voluntarily implement water-saving devices and penalize heavy users who are unwilling to conserve.
- Cash rebates for voluntary purchase/installation of low-flow plumbing fixtures.
- Rebates in the form of credits to property owners’ water bills for voluntary purchase/installation of low-flow plumbing fixtures.
- Rebates in the form of property tax credits for voluntary purchase/installation of low-flow plumbing fixtures.
- Distribution of water conservation kits including low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, toilet leak tablets, and toilet tank displacement kits.
Water is a vital natural resource that impacts the health and prosperity of our state. Georgia is a riparian rights state and GAR opposes any attempt to shift Georgia’s water policy to the public trust doctrine. The public trust doctrine is a principle which upholds the sentiment that resources, such as water, are vital enough that the government is required to maintain those resources for the public’s use. The public trust doctrine restricts and denies property owners of their legal rights to the water that is on their land. By placing water resources in the custody of the state, the public trust doctrine gives all Georgia citizens legal standing to file suit challenging the use of water on private land, as well as for permitted or proposed developments. This approach is anti-private property rights and detrimental to the future growth and development of our state.
In 2008, the General Assembly adopted Georgia’s comprehensive statewide water plan, which solidified Georgia as a regulated-riparian water rights state. This means that water runs with the land. Property owners have the right to make reasonable use of the water on their land and can withdraw up to 100,000 gallons per day before government regulations are imposed.
The Georgia REALTORS’® Position
The foundation of our industry is the protection and defense of private property rights. GAR supports the existing riparian water rights system, stating that water runs with the land and property owners in Georgia maintain the right to use their water in a reasonable manner in accordance with the law.
GAR opposes the public trust doctrine and any government attempt to reduce the water rights of Georgia property owners.
Municipalities, counties, and state legislators have expressed interest in requiring a seller of residential real estate to obtain a point-of-sale (POS) inspection and to make any required repairs to the property before the transfer of real property may occur. These inspections are promoted as enhancing the quality of housing stock and therefore ensuring the health and safety of residents. In actuality, these practices only apply to the select few in a community who decide to sell their homes, rather than the entire community at large.
The Georgia REALTORS’® Position
While GAR supports the availability of quality housing stock, we believe that point-of-sale inspections:
- Are inequitable as they place the burden on homebuyers and sellers for something that is the responsibility of the whole community.
- Are inefficient in achieving the highest level of compliance to a community’s code standards and conservation goals.
- Are counterproductive to maintaining an affordable housing stock.
- Add complications to the real estate sales transaction. Considering many steps are involved in the inspection and repair process, POS inspections create delays to the transaction process.
- Create an unknown expense for both parties to negotiate. The cost of repairs can cause the home sale price to increase, leaving the potential homebuyer with an added expense, and possibly an inability to purchase the home.
- Create an unfunded government mandate at the expense of homebuyers and sellers.
GAR supports existing law which requires a seller to disclose material defects at the time of sale and which encourages buyers to obtain a home inspection before purchasing a property. Such provisions already provide sufficient self-improvement of current housing stock and negates the onerous effect of point-of-sale requirements.