Money Watchers: Realtors worry about impact of legislation

The Rhode Island Association of Realtors rallied at the State House Wednesday against legislation they say could hurt the market, which has been recovering.

"A rally because we want to show a force that real estate in Rhode Island makes a difference," said Susan Arnold, of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

The legislation they feel is unreasonable does some of the following: increases transfer taxes, mandates cesspool replacements within a year of transfers, and increase fines on homes with lead from $500 to $5,000.

Arnold said the legislation is a problem.

"We have several problem bills. Anything that burdens home ownership in a fashion that is unreasonable," Arnold said.

For example, at a home in East Greenwich, the cesspool has already been replaced but lead paint would be an issue, and one that may prevent the owner from selling or a buyer from buying -- a lose-lose situation.

"A buyer may look at this property and say, 'You know what? If I have to deal with the burden of tying into a sewer and the house next door doesn't, then I'm going to house next door.' So that hurt the seller. The seller says they're not going to do it, or perhaps you're buying from an estate, the burden goes to the buyer," said Bruce Lane, a real estate agent.

So the issue is now is whether or not some middle ground can be found.

"We agree with their intent. To replace cesspools that are not filtrating water properly makes sense to everyone, including our organization. However, not having plan B in place for where the money is going to come from if someone is upside down on their property and owes more than maybe what they can sell it for, or maybe the buyer takes the burden on and they can't finance that much more money to replace the cesspool that can cost thousands and thousands of dollars," said Karl Martone, a real estate agent.