State Roundup: California, New York, and Wisconsin

November 1, 2003

California: Activists torch houses.

Protestors characterized by public officials as “radical environmentalists” allegedly set fires that destroyed at least four houses under construction in San Diego’s Torrey Highlands neighborhood, a growing outer suburban area, according to news reports. Banners at the site proclaimed the Earth Liberation Front as the responsible party, although the group’s involvement hasn’t been verified by law enforcement. The organization has taken responsibility for recent house fires in other parts of California, including Emeryville, near San Francisco. Environmental militant groups are said to use economic sabotage, which includes destruction of property, to try to change public attitudes about environmental damage caused by businesses, including harm caused by sprawl.

New York: Taxation’s long reach.

New York is requiring nonresidents to pay personal income taxes on any gain from the sale of real property they own in the state. Sellers must pay the estimated tax on their gain prior to closing.For fiscal year 2003, the state tax rate on gains is 7.7 percent. The provision was included in the state budget bill, S.B. 1406B, and took effect Sept. 1. The New York State Association of REALTORS® is determining the impact the tax will have on real estate investment by out-of-state investors, says Mike Kelly, NYSAR’s government and political affairs representative.

Wisconsin: No signs allowed.

Wisconsin’s transportation department has issued a warning to real estate practitioners to keep For Sale and Open House signs off highway right-of-ways, as required by law. The impact of enforcement could be greatest in rural, wooded areas, where the signs are helpful in providing directions to drivers looking for the houses, says Pat Kiley, association executive of the Northwoods Association of REALTORS® in Woodruff, Wis.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is the former director of multimedia communications at NAR.

Jane Adler is a Chicago-based freelancer writer.

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