State Roundup: Missouri, Kansas, and California

March 1, 2005

Missouri: Minimum services defined.

A bill (H.B. 174) introduced in the Missouri legislature on Jan. 5 would require exclusive brokerage agreements to specify that licensees would provide minimally prescribed services: accepting and presenting client offers and counteroffers; assisting clients in negotiations and in presenting offers; and answering clients’ questions relating to offers, counteroffers, notices, and contingencies.

“The consumer could choose between the proposed exclusive brokerage agreement and the existing section of the statute, which provides for a brokerage agreement in which the client could expect a lesser number and level of services,” says Dennis McDermott, executive vice president at the Missouri Association of REALTORS®, which backs the bill. The bill is modeled after similar legislation passed last year in Illinois. There’s no time frame set for possible passage.

Kansas: New homestead act.

Hoping to boost rural populations with old-fashioned homesteading , a handful of small towns in Kansas are offering free land to people who agree to build a house there. Communities are throwing in other incentives, too. In Ellsworth County, for example, lenders are applying the value of the lot toward the downpayment and waiving construction financing fees.

California: Tax thwarted.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® recently spearheaded a campaign that halted an effort by the city of Atherton, Calif., to impose new business license tax regulations, which real estate practitioners said would eat up 20 percent of each commission.

The city had proposed changes that would have required practitioners to pay the city 0.53 percent of a property’s sale price at the close of escrow. The city wanted to use the revenue to help close a $3 million budget deficit.

The Silicon Valley group coordinated a lobbying effort with nearby REALTOR® associations. Ultimately, the council decided to look at other options. But the association will continue to monitor the business tax situation.

Jane Adler is a Chicago-based freelancer writer.

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