Progress Report: 2018 Legislative Priorities for REALTORS®
The Maryland General Assembly started its 2018 Legislative Session on January 10. Its last day will be April 9. While time is tight during the 90-day session, progress is being made. Many PGCAR and Maryland REALTOR® volunteers and staff are busy following and lobbying for these legislative priorities that impact homeownership and our industry.
The bill would allow any Maryland resident to establish a tax-free account for a designated beneficiary. First-time homebuyers or individuals creating an account for a first-time buyer beneficiary could deposit up to $50,000 (state tax free) in an account. The legislation would require that money deposited in the account be used within 15 years of opening an account. If the money was not used in for a first-time home purchase, the holder of the account would be subject to the state tax and penalties. Issue Sheet >
STATUS: A panel arranged by Maryland REALTORS®, which included Cheryl Abrams Davis, President of the Prince George's County Association of REALTORS®, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee in support of HB 463. It's companion bill, SB 972 is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
Escrow Money Held by Third Parties - HB 1608
The bill regulates third party companies holding real estate earnest money deposits and establishes numerous duties and requirements related to the activities of escrow agents responsible for trusts established for the purpose of conducting real estate transactions. These deposits were once held almost exclusively by real estate brokers. While there is no legal prohibition against such companies holding earnest money deposits, these third party companies are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as real estate brokers. Consequently, we believe home sellers and buyers would benefit from state law providing basic rules on how the money is deposited, held and disbursed. Issue Sheet >
STATUS: A hearing on the bill was held before the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
Real Estate Guaranty Fund - Fund Transfer - HB 1656 / SB 843
The bill authorizes the State Real Estate Commission to transfer up to $500,000 from the Real Estate Commission Fund to the Real Estate Guaranty Fund if (1) the commission is projected to have at least a $500,000 operating surplus and (2) the amount in the guaranty fund is less than $300,000. The Guarantee fund compensates consumers when a real estate agent has violated their legal obligations. The law also specifies that if the fund falls below $250,000, then all licensees will be assessed an additional fee to recapitalize it. Such authority would help licensees avoid a special assessment of the Commission's general fund is already flush with real estate licensing fees. Issue Sheet >
STATUS: The cross-filed bill, SB 843 has passed third reading in the Senate and has been sent over to the House.
Business Succession in the Event of Disability - HB 1482 / SB 846
Current law provides direction regarding the continuation of a brokerage after the death of the broker but has no corresponding language providing direction when a broker is disabled and unable to continue operating the company. The bill allows a family member of a disabled real estate broker to temporarily carry on the broker's business for purposes of closing and terminating the business. The authorization is incorporated into existing provisions that allow a family member to temporarily carry on the business of a deceased real estate broker for the same purposes. Issue Sheet >
STATUS: The cross-filed bill, SB 846 has passed third reading in the Senate and has been sent over to the House.
Although the 2017 Maryland General Assembly rejected legislation that would have expanded the Best Available Technology (BAT) requirement for septic systems to new construction outside of Maryland's Critical Areas, a work group has been studying potentially new septic initiatives. Maryland REALTORS® are opposed to legislation that would extend the BAT requirement outside of the Critical Areas. In addition, the Maryland REALTORS® would oppose mandatory septic pump outs or mandatory inspections of such systems. Issue Sheet >
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For more information contact Dwayne Mingo, PGCAR Government Affairs Director, at 301-306-7900 or email@example.com, or contact MAR Government Affairs at 800-638-6425.