State Roundup: California, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, and Michigan

June 1, 2002

Illinois: licensed to look

Illinois is poised to become the 13th state to license home inspectors. The state’s Office of Banks and Real Estate is weighing industry and other recommendations as it prepares rules for the home inspector licensing law that was enacted last year. Under consideration so far: two-year license terms and a $150 initial licensing fee. Renewals would cost $250. The agency has until January 2003 to finalize its rules, which would apply to about 1,000 inspectors.

Ohio: kinder, gentler disclosure

It has no beef with overall agency disclosure policies, but a task force appointed by the Ohio Association of REALTORS® may suggest that state disclosure requirements need further cooking. Current requirements are believed to intimidate consumers because disclosure comes at the point of first contact with the customer and the disclosure form is overly formal. The task force is expected to suggest ways to improve the process in a report to the association in September. At that time, the association would work with state lawmakers to evaluate the changes.

Nebraska: disclosure closure

Real estate practitioners in Nebraska got closure on disclosure in April with enactment of a law (L.B. 863) that makes it clear they’re not responsible for verifying the accuracy of their seller’s property condition report. The law also stipulates that practitioners deliver a property disclosure statement to buyers on or before the effective date of the purchase agreement. The Nebraska REALTORS® Association worked with legislators to develop the law.

Michigan: earnest help on deposits

Processing transactions in Michigan became more streamlined in March when legislators enacted a law (P.A. 42) that lets brokers deposit a buyer’s earnest money directly with the designated title company. Previously, brokers had to set up and administer their own escrow account for the funds. The Michigan Association of REALTORS® initiated the new law, which went into effect immediately.

California: “Z” marks the top

The 10 lawyers who staff the California Association of REALTORS®’ legal hotline are busier than usual this spring, thanks to the still-hot pace of the state’s housing markets. In February alone, the hotline averaged 190 calls per day, a record. Uppermost on callers’ minds? Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act. Brokers offering credit services are calling to make sure they understand what information about rates and payments must be included in their ads, says an association spokesperson.

Jane Adler is a Chicago-based freelancer writer.

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