Realtors® advocate at the state capital
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We had a phenomenal turnout at PAR’s Day on the Hill event this week in Harrisburg. More than 100 Pennsylvania Realtors® met with 40 state legislators yesterday.

I can’t stress enough how important it is for Realtors® to meet with their legislators to explain how legislation could affect our clients, homeownership, the real estate industry and the state’s economy.

Realtors® focused their discussions on PAR’s key issues, which include:

House Bill 863 (Rothman, R-Cumberland), which would amend the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act. PAR supported this legislation in the last legislative session and encouraged these amendments because it would enhance the level of service to consumers. The bill would incorporate the following requirements to RELRA: an additional 15 hours for salesperson pre-licensure education, allowing for a grandfathering process for those already enrolled in classes, a high school diploma or equivalent be required for licensure as a real estate salesperson, all courses for salesperson licenses be completed within 5 years prior to the date of taking and passing the exam, allowing for a grandfathering process for those already enrolled in classes, and allow licensees to conduct Broker Price Opinions with requirements. The House Professional Licensure Committee has scheduled a hearing on this bill in May.

House Bill 1001 (Helm, R-Dauphin), which would license home inspectors. This bill will set statewide standards for licensing home inspectors and standards for the home inspection report. PAR supports this legislation because property inspections have become a critical part of the transaction and should be regulated by the state to provide protection for consumers. The legislation will require home inspectors to be licensed by the Department of Labor and Industry and license applicants would have to: have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete a bureau-approved training program, pass a bureau-approved examination, and obtain liability insurance. Existing practitioners will be grandfathered. Renewal requires 16 hours of continuing education.

Seller’s Disclosure Issues – PAR has opposed numerous pieces of legislation over the past several legislative sessions pertaining to the Seller’s Property Disclosure. While the association understands the need for sellers to provide information to buyers, PAR believes that any amendments to the law should be addressed by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission, rather than by legislative action. Substantive policy changes to the seller’s disclosure should be made through the regulatory process, providing a balance between the seller’s requirements and the needs of the buyer to learn about material defects of a property.

Property Tax Assessment Reform – As the legislature considers property tax assessment reform, PAR urges it to consider several key points.  PAR supports a mandatory periodic reassessment not to exceed three years and an assessment system that is regulated by the state through a uniformity office. This entity would have the authority to oversee and enforce compliance, including adoption of a uniform and computerized mass assessment system, and a standard of training and continuing education to be instituted for assessors, appeals board members, auxiliary boards and any other individual that deals with assessment. The association believes an assessment system that is initially revenue neutral, yet allows for tax increases and decreases. In addition, PAR encourages a standardized appeals process that is fair and equitable, that does not rely on the sale of property as the sole basis for an assessment appeal by a taxing authority. The association also encourages the development of a funding mechanism, implemented and maintained by the state, whereby stakeholders (school districts, counties and municipalities) participate in the cost of reassessment in a proportionate manner.