2016 Developments in Real Estate
A Legal Moment

New Real Estate Laws in 2016

     A Host of New North Carolina Laws Impacts Developers and Individual Property Owners Alike.

   In 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly was very busy passing laws that affect real estate in many different aspects.  Presented below are brief summaries of some of the more far-reaching of the new laws.

Builder’s Inventory Tax Exception
     Prior to this law, which became effective in 2016, when a developer created a new subdivision, the tax assessor would assign tax values to all of the lots created, and this assessment would invariably increase the developer’s tax bill while he or she was trying to sell the lot inventory.  This law allows a developer to apply for a tax exemption to exclude the increase in tax value attributed to the subdivision process, the construction of improvements other than buildings (such as roads and other subdivision infrastructure), or the construction of a new single-family residence or duplex or than for a model home, i.e. a home built for sale.  The exemption cannot last more than three years, and the developer must apply for it every year during the listing period of January.
Repeal of Zoning Protest Petitions
     A former zoning law contained a procedure through which neighbors who would be affected by a local government re-zoning could file a “protest petition” against the proposed re-zoning that would trigger a super-majority vote by the governing body to approve the re-zoning.  Under the new law, protest petitions are no longer allowed.  Instead, opponents can submit written “citizen comments” that are provided to the governing body, but such comments do not trigger a higher vote threshold.
City Retention of Easements
     Cities have always had a mechanism to close streets or alleys that are no longer necessary or that, perhaps, were never even opened and used.  Such closures were absolute allowing no continued public use.  Now, legislation allows a city to reserve easements for utilities, drainage, pedestrian access, landscaping, conservation, or other uses in the public interest.
Requirement for Building Permit
     This new law raised from $5,000 to $15,000 the cost of construction level triggering the requirement for a building permit for repair or replacement of a single-family residence or farm building.  There are exceptions where a permit is still required if the repair is under $15,000 for such things as work on load bearing structures, plumbing, HVAC, electrical additions, changes to design, or roofing additions.
Real Estate License Requirements
     There has long existed an exemption to real estate license requirements for a business selling real estate owned by that business.  Under new rules, the managers, officers, partners, and employees of an exempt business are also exempt from licensing requirements.  Any person coming under this exception must now disclose to all parties to the transaction that the person is not a licensed broker, the exemption permitting him or her to be unlicensed, and the legal name and physical address of the business entity owning the property.
Living Probate
     This new law allows an individual to have a will declared valid and non-revocable while the person is still alive.  The person must be a resident of North Carolina who has executed a will.  There must be a hearing before the Clerk of Court to prove the will would be admitted to probate as valid if the person making the will were deceased.  All parties to the hearing are bound by its result.  The order can state that the will cannot be revoked until a new will is brought in for a later hearing to declare it valid.  No party participating in the hearing will be allowed to file a challenge to the validity of the will after the person making the will dies.  This may be a little needed procedure, but it could help with eliminating expected challenges.
Protection of Private Property
     The General Assembly created a new right to sue for recovery of damages for interference with real property.  This right to sue is not a criminal law and is an additional remedy beyond regular trespass law.  The protection is against acts that “exceed the person’s authority to enter” areas of another’s property.  Examples include an employee entering part of the employer’s premises to remove data or records for use contrary to the interests of the employer, an employee entering an area to record images or sound for use contrary to the interests of the employer, the placement of an unattended camera or recording device, and a few others.  The damages to be awarded include compensation for the loss, court costs, attorneys’ fees, and exemplary per day damages.
Foreclosure Purchases
     Under the former law, a purchaser at a foreclosure sale could evict any tenant of the property in as little as ten days.  Now, unless the purchaser is going to occupy a purchased single-family residence as his or her primary residence, the tenant can remain for the shorter of the end of the current lease or one year.  The tenant cannot be the debtor in the foreclosure or a member of the debtor’s family, and the lease must be in writing, not terminable at will, and for a fair market rent.


Other Recent Articles
Greg Gregory is an attorney and shareholder at Marshall, Roth & Gregory, PC. Greg's practice encompasses all forms of business and real estate transactions.
   Feel free to contact Greg ( to receive more information on this topic or to suggest topics for future editions of 'A Legal Moment'.

     Or visit our firm's website.

     Other articles which may be of interest to you may be found in our Newsletter archives.

   You may not rely on this content as legal advice for any specific situation, but should instead contact an attorney for specific advice
Copyright © 2016 Marshall, Roth & Gregory, PC, All rights reserved.
Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp