State Roundup: Michigan, California, and Maryland

October 1, 2006

Michigan: More work on minimum service.

Efforts by the Michigan Association of REALTORS® to win passage of legislation allowing licensees to provide less than designated minimum standards of service if they do so in a non-agent role has hit a snag. The MAR-backed bill had passed the Michigan House and was attracting support in the Senate when Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s office in late July announced concerns about the ability of limited-service brokers to compete under the bill. Robert Campau, MAR vice president of public policy and legal affairs, says concerns by Granholm’s office are based on a misunderstanding of the bill. MAR continues to talk with lawmakers and Campau says he’s “optimistic about coming to a mutually satisfying agreement on language.”

California: Universal design.

The Southern California community of Murrieta has passed a law requiring developers to make 15 percent of new for-sale and rental units accessible to the elderly and disabled, a requirement that builders estimate will cost an extra $800 to $5,000 per home. Supporters say the adaptations, which include wide doorways and low cabinets, appeal to everyone. Eighty-eight percent of those who buy homes with universal design features are able-bodied people who like the convenience of a spacious interior that can accommodate guests of differing abilities, says supporter Susan Mack, who specializes in universal design. The trend toward universal design is growing as baby boomers age, say supporters. The new law and the for-and-against views were reported in the Aug. 7 Los Angeles Times.

Maryland: Transfer tax relief.

Police officers in Prince George’s County who are first-time home buyers get a break on their transfer taxes at closing under a law that took effect July 1. Officers pay 1 percent of the purchase price rather than 1.4 percent, the regular rate. County school teachers were made eligible for the same tax break in an earlier law without the first-time buyer limitation. Teachers must commit to living in the house for at least three years and maintain their teaching position with county during that time.

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