Each year in New Jersey, bills and amendments are proposed that affect the real estate industry. The government affairs department keeps a sharp eye on Trenton to monitor and advocate in the best interest of Realtors®.
NJ Realtors® has been extremely effective in making the voice of Realtors® heard in the state capitol.
Learn more about some of the issues we've worked on:
Broker Price Opinions, also known as Comparative Market Analyses are a key tool for REALTORS® when determining a price to list a home at. So, when the right to perform BPOs and CMAs came under fire in recent years, NJ Realtors® stepped up to protect members’ right to do their jobs.
While BPOs and CMAs have always been recognized as tools for Realtors®, legislation was introduced declaring that BPOs and CMAs are identical documents to each other and permits real estate licensees to prepare them with certain provisions. Two bills unanimously passed the Senate and Assembly, but were pocket vetoed by Gov. Christie, twice.
As a Realtor®, can I still prepare a BPO?
Despite the pocket veto, Realtors® are still able to prepare BPOs and CMAs, as detailed in a 2013 advisory released by the New Jersey Real Estate Commission.
The memo states:
“A BPO is defined in federal law as “an estimate prepared by a real estate broker, agent or sales person that details the probable selling price of a particular piece of real estate property and provides a varying level of detail about the property’s condition, market and neighborhood, and information on comparable sales, but does not included an automated valuation model….”
“The Commission rules, however, do refer to a “comparative market study or analysis” (“CMA”), which is an estimate of the value of real property similar to a BPO. The Commission considers the term CMA as used in its rules to also encompass BPOs.”
Private well testing has been a legal part of NJ real estate sales since 2002. The Private Well Testing Act decrees a minimum testing requirement for potable water samples taken from private wells prior to the closing of a title. The Act also states that, when property with certain types of drinking water wells is leased, the well water must be tested for contaminants. The results of the water testing must be reviewed by both the buyer and seller, or in the case of a leased property, by the lessee.
The NJ Realtor® Standard Form of Real Estate contract has been updated to deal with this provision.
A state income tax deduction of up to $500 for homeowners testing their private well water supply once every five years was enacted in 2010. NJ Realtors® supported this legislation, as it makes it easier for homeowners who must test their wells prior to the sale of the home.
No subject has been more hotly discussed over the past decade than New Jersey’s soaring property taxes, where the state continues to have some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Our more than 60,000 members provide professional services to sellers and buyers of residential and commercial properties and are keenly aware of how property taxes impact the transaction. New Jersey Realtors® has continually worked with legislators to not only support proposals that slowed the rate of property tax growth, such as the 2 percent annual cap, but will eventually lower them, such as with the potential for shared services.
New Jersey Realtors® also has strongly advocated for the restoration of the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction given that New Jersey continues to have some of the highest property taxes in the country. Lastly, New Jersey Realtors® also monitors the budget process to ensure funds are included to provide property tax relief for New Jersey’s families.
New Jersey Realtors® has been working to preserve the independent contractor status in real estate since 2016 when the Real Estate Commission, at the request of NJ Realtors®, amended their rules to add the independent contractor status in their regulations, which was done and took effect in 2017. The next year, updates were made to the real estate license law codifying the REC rule change from the year before.
In 2021, New Jersey Realtors® worked on a new piece of legislation, A-6206, which reaffirmed the right for real estate salespersons to work as independent contractors in New Jersey and clarified that the 2018 law which gave agents the ability to operate as independent contractors or employees, would be retrospective as well as prospective. The law was signed in January 2022 by Governor Murphy following a conditional veto which was approved by the State Legislature which replaced some language in the bill but retained its original intent to protect the independent contractor status. There is still more work to be done on this issue to protect the independent contractor status in real estate which New Jersey Realtors® is engaging in.
New Jersey Realtors® has worked to oppose a time-of-sale requirement for lead paint inspections and remediation going back to 2016 when legislation was introduced that would have required lead paint inspections prior to the sale of a home. In the 2020-2021 legislative session, S-1147 began to move through the legislative process and New Jersey Realtors® was able to work with the sponsors to have the bill amended removing the time-of-sale requirement, which could have added up to $1,000.00 in testing costs and potentially up to $40,000.00 in remediation costs at the time-of-sale. Instead, the bill applies to rental properties only, with seasonal rentals being exempt.
As part of the law, the Department of Community Affairs will have to work with groups including New Jersey Realtors® to put out educational materials in advance of the law taking effect. The new law will take effect on July 22, 2022. For additional information, click here or see NJ Realtors® lead paint Q&A here.
Governor Murphy signed legislation, S-1047, proactively initiated by New Jersey Realtors® in November 2021 which provided the same protections under the consumer fraud law previously available only to sellers’ agents to those representing buyers as well. State law previously only exempted those representing sellers from damages if they received inaccurate information through an OPRA request but the same protection did not extend to buyers agents. S-1047 remedied that by extending the same protections to both buyers’ and sellers’ agents and took effect immediately upon being signed by the governor.
New Jersey Realtors® proactively had legislation, S-3590, introduced to allow the formation of Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) by real estate salespersons and broker-salespersons for the purpose of receiving commission income through their brokers. The bill also contained language stating that if an LLC is formed, those paid commission income through it would not be considered employees under the law, providing another protection of the independent contractor status in real estate. This bill was signed by Governor Murphy in November 2021 and will take effect six months after the Real Estate Commission promulgates regulations to implement the new law.
New Jersey Realtors® worked to have amendments made to a law signed in 2020, known as Daniel’s Law that was enacted to protect the privacy of certain law enforcement officials for their security. After the law took effect, it became clear there were unintended consequences associated with it where Realtors® were unable to attend information from county boards of taxation about properties for sale. In response, legislation, A-6171 was introduced to amend Daniel’s Law that would grant real estate licensees the ability to obtain the information needed to conduct real estate transactions while still maintaining the necessary privacy to protect the security of certain law enforcement officials. The bill was approved by the State Legislature, signed by Governor Murphy in January 2022 and took effect immediately upon being signed.
In 2018, New Jersey Realtors® worked with the State Legislature to have several updates made to the New Jersey Real Estate License Law. S-430 was introduced and made the following changes:
- Brought New Jersey in line with federal unemployment law by eliminating the referral agent category and changing it to salesperson licensed with a referral company.
- Codified a REC rule adding the independent contractor status to state law.
- Prohibits a real estate license from being issued to an individual registered under Megan’s Law.
- Eliminated continuing education correspondence courses.
- Added real estate licensee safety and financial literacy as core continuing education topics.
- Created a process for certain agents in the referral category to reinstate their licenses.
S-430 was signed by the governor in 2018. For more information, visit the New Jersey Realtors® website at https://www.njrealtor.com/uploads/legal/Issue_Brief_S430.pdf.