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The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® supports Senate Bill 869 (R-Tomlinson), which was introduced earlier this year. The association believes these changes to the state Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act (RELRA) will ultimately provide enhanced service to consumers and raise the level of competency within the industry. The legislation passed the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee in April 2013, and awaits action in the Senate.
The bill proposes:
· Increasing the continuing education hours for all real estate licensees from 14 hours to 18 hours every two years. More than half of the other states currently require more continuing education than Pennsylvania. According to ARELLO statistics, 18 hours is the average for the 50 states.
· Increasing pre-licensure education by an additional 30 hours, allowing for a grandfathering process for those already enrolled in classes. The additional 30 hours will raise the required education from 60 hours to 90 hours. Throughout the United States, the average pre-licensure requirement is 79 hours and 26 states already require more than 60 hours of pre-licensure education, including our neighbors in Delaware (99), New Jersey (75), New York (75), Ohio (120) and West Virginia (90).
· Allowing licensees to conduct Broker Price Opinions under certain criteria to fulfill a niche in the real estate market, not currently being met by other products. The bill would further define a “comparative market analysis,” which currently exists under the law, to include a “broker price opinion.”A licensee can prepare this written analysis for an existing or potential seller or buyer, a lien holder, or a person making a decision regarding the property. Currently 45 states allow BPOs to be performed.
· Requiring 95 percent attendance at pre-licensure and continuing education courses. The regulations currently require 80 percent attendance for classroom pre-licensure courses and 90 percent for classroom continuing education courses. ARELLO reports that 27 states/territories require 100 percent attendance, one requires 95 percent and 10 require 90 percent.
· Requiring six hours of continuing education must be in a specific topic area, depending on the specialty of the licensee. By requiring licensees to take specific topics related to their respective licenses, it would enable licensees to offer better service to consumers and fellow licensees.
· Completing all courses for a broker license within five years prior to the date of taking and passing the exam, allowing for a grandfathering process for those already enrolled in classes. As dramatic shifts occur within the real estate industry, PAR believes it is crucial that brokers complete their education in a timely manner.
· Completing all courses for salesperson licenses within three years prior to the date of taking and passing the exam, allowing for a grandfathering process for those already enrolled in classes. Due to the increasingly challenging real estate market, PAR believes it would be more advantageous for both the new real estate licensee and the consumer if courses were required to be completed in a shorter period of time.
· Requiring a high school diploma or equivalent for licensure as a real estate salesperson. Pennsylvania has relatively easy standards to become real estate licensees. Requiring a high school diploma will help elevate the professionalism of all licensees, as well as provide additional protection to the consumers they serve.
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