The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® provided testimony on House Bill 863 (Rothman, R-Cumberland), which would amend the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act, before the House Professional Licensure Committee at the Capitol yesterday.
Rep. Greg Rothman, a third generation Realtor® and an appraiser, is the prime sponsor of the bill. Rothman, who also served on the State Real Estate Commission, said his family’s real estate business, RSR Realtors®, has 50 percent of its business in real estate and 50 percent in appraisals. “I’m uniquely qualified to sponsor this bill,” he said. “The bill is the result of a lot of compromise over three years… I think it protects real estate brokers and appraisers equally.”
PAR President Kathy McQuilkin and Legislative Chair Mark Mohn spoke in favor of the changes to RELRA, proposed in HB 863. The amendments are the result of a Realtor® task force that examined Pennsylvania educational requirements for real estate licensees.
“PAR believes that the proposed changes will result in an enhanced level of service for consumers and a higher level of competency throughout the real estate industry,” McQuilkin said to the committee.
She outlined the proposed changes that would require additional training for salesperson pre-licensure education. The bill would increase pre-licensure education for new licensees by an additional 15 hours, allowing for a grandfathering process for those already enrolled in classes. PAR believes increasing the pre-licensure education requirement will help raise the level of competency of new licensees, helping them to better serve their clients and giving them a greater understanding of real estate transactions.
In addition, HB 863 would require salesperson licensees to complete all licensure courses within five years prior to the date of taking and passing the exam, allowing for a grandfathering process for those already enrolled in classes. And the bill would require a high school diploma or equivalent for licensure as a real estate salesperson.
Mohn explained the bill would also allow licensees to conduct Broker Price Opinions, or BPOs.
“PAR has met with representatives from the State Real Estate Commission, State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers, Coalition of Pennsylvania Real Estate Appraisers, Real Estate Valuation Advocacy Association and the Pennsylvania Bankers Association to negotiate specifics of this amendment over the past several years,” Mohn said. “We’ve worked to incorporate many of the requests from each group.”
HB 863 would require that a BPO fee be paid directly to a broker. In addition, it will require agents to take a valuation certification course, be licensed for at least three years and take valuation continuing education each two-year cycle. The proposed legislation outlines that BPOs could only be used for: in conjunction with a Real Estate Owned, or REO, loan modifications, short sales, and portfolio evaluation/monitoring. BPOs could not be used for bankruptcy, tax appeals, eminent domain, divorce, equitable distribution, actions before any court or loan origination.
Dean Kelker, senior vice president and chief risk officer for SingleSource Property Solutions, spoke on behalf of the Real Estate Valuation Advocacy Association in support of HB 863. “Despite the fact that this would create one of the most restrictive BPO statutes in the country, we are willing to support HB 863, as originally introduced by Rep. Rothman and other sponsors,” he said. “Passage of HB 863 is important to expanding choices in the BPO marketplace; lifting the BPO prohibition will make Pennsylvania competitive with other states in the servicing and securitization of mortgage loans, and opening up this market will create new employment and income opportunities for brokers and real estate agents.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 14, 2017.