State Roundup: Connecticut, Minnesota, and Maryland

December 1, 2003

Connecticut: Effective defense

The state legislature has passed a budget that transfers $5 million from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority to the state’s general fund, a victory for the Connecticut Association of REALTORS®, which helped persuade lawmakers to scrap a proposal to make the transfer amount $80 million. CHFA makes low-interest mortgages to low- and moderate-income homebuyers, and helps finance affordable rental housing. CAR also helped defeat efforts to increase the state’s portion of the property conveyance tax (municipal rates, however, were raised for 15 months to $2.50 per $1,000 from $1.10) for both residential and commercial properties and to raise real estate licensee costs, which will remain at $450 ($300 renewal fee) for brokers and $225 for associates.

Minnesota: Lead burden

Chris Galler of the Minnesota Association of REALTORS® is helping a state task force find ways to reduce childhood lead poisoning, but he also wants to make sure the cost isn’t unfairly dumped on the real estate industry. What he wants to avoid: mandated point-of-sale home inspections and real estate transaction fees to fund lead-testing programs. “We have to watch the [task force] process carefully,” says Galler, MAR senior vice president. The task force is to issue a report in June 2004.

Maryland: Renter interest

Is 4 percent too high an interest rate on renters’ security deposits? Some landlords think the amount, which is set by statute, is a losing deal for them, since they can rarely get 4 percent return while they hold the deposits. On the other hand, some landlords say linking what they pay on security deposits to prevailing interest rates is administratively cumbersome. The Maryland Association of REALTORS® backs legislation enabling landlords to pay 4 percent or the prevailing interest rates, whichever is more cost-effective. The matter could come up in early 2004, when the state assembly meets next.

Jane Adler is a Chicago-based freelancer writer.

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