Saturday, May 22, 2010

Real Estate "Agents Without Borders"? Not Likely Anytime Soon

Most people don't think about real estate agents until they need them, and if asked, don't have much idea of what they do besides sell houses. Did you know that you are at an advantage if you familiarize yourself with real estate law, especially if your property is complicated? I used to wonder why American Presidents tend to be lawyers; the odds are stacked against a politician who isn't a lawyer. Young politicians are wise to study law.

The concept of selling property is grounded in real estate law. The reasons agents take real estate courses, at least here in America, are varied:
1)to guide buyers with professionalism to make better real estate choices
2) to deepen agents' knowledge of statewide real estate laws and regulations
3)to obtain real estate licenses to legally sell property
4) to belong to the governing body of the Board of Realtors

The rigorous education and useful knowledge of laws are invaluable to a general understanding of society. We can only thank history for changing the ugly, old ways of redlining (not giving mortgages in subprime areas), blockbusting (telling certain minorities to move out), and steering (showing buyers certain areas (usually more expensive). How can constitutional infringements be nipped in the bud? Probably the answer is they can't, at least not easily.

                                                   Our New Jersey farm, north Lawrence Township

Real estate agents in New Jersey (especially North Jersey) learn three different areas: real estate principles of residential and commercial real estate in general, NJ real estate laws and regulations of the Real Estate Commission, and thirdly, Pennsylvania, South Jersey customs and laws. North Jersey follows New York law more than Pennsylvania and South Jersey law.

New Jersey enjoys two different tax customs, in North and South Jersey, something I hadn't appreciated in the last 27 years. Legal practices south of I-95 in New Jersey follow Pennsylvania customs. For example, in South Jersey and Pennsylvania, attorneys aren't at closings, meaning that, in practice, attorneys are more likely to stop sales just before closing. Attorney reviews, the North New Jersey alternatives, happen after a residential sales contract is signed and take three days. I suppose it could be debated which has better laws, New York or Philadelphia.

Transfer taxation of realty is an issue that is not uniform around America. It would make life easier if it were. Uniformity of laws would make enforcement easier. Unnecessary divisions complicate justice. I didn't think New Jersey and Pennsylvania law could be so dissimilar. And those are just two states.

How many people pay cash (in percent per year) for houses in New Jersey or in the USA for that matter? Simple question. I can't find an answer, and I'm told it doesn't matter anyway.

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