News: Quick Takes

NCGA roundup: Property sellers would not have to disclose ‘wish list’ projects, under proposed bill

(CJ photo by Kari Travis)
(CJ photo by Kari Travis)

RALEIGH — Properties included in certain long-range “wish list” road projects would not have to be disclosed in real estate transactions, under a bill filed in the state House.

The bill, House Bill 31, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston, would consider a property’s inclusion in a comprehensive transportation plan “not a material fact.”

Comprehensive transportation plans are long-term, long-range transportation plans for municipalities, counties, and large metropolitan areas, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s website.

Hastings calls such plans “wish list projects that are not fiscally constrained.” He said such projects often don’t have costs associated with them, and oftentimes property owners don’t even know about them.

“It’s note even scored under the STI (Strategic Transportation Investments) law,” Hastings said.

North Carolina real estate law allows the seller of real property the option of making “no representations as to the characteristics and conditions” of real property, or filing a disclosure statement of the property’s conditions.

If the seller chooses to file a disclosure statement, certain items must be disclosed. Among those items are zoning laws, restrictive covenants, encroachment of other real property, and “notice from any governmental agency affecting this real property.”

Hastings said his bill would not affect disclosure requirements for shorter-term road projects and said the bill prohibits anyone from knowingly making a false statement regarding such a fact.

Hastings said if a buyer caught wind of property being on the comprehensive transportation plan list, the buyer might want to cancel the transaction. “Somebody might overreact and think it’s a project that’s in the pipeline,” Hastings said. Real estate agents could also be disciplined for not disclosing the project, even though they may not even know about it, he added.

In some areas, this could lead to a decreased availability of real property and inflate the cost of real estate, Hastings said.

“We’re trying to prevent a long-term government wish list from tying up property,” Hastings said.

Seth Palmer, regulatory affairs director for the N.C. Association of Realtors, said the organization supports Hastings’ bill since it’s narrowly tailored to address “wish list” items on the comprehensive transportation plans.

“We really see that as beneficial for consumer protection,” Palmer said, noting that items on the plan haven’t been thoroughly vetted.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly is set to reconvene Thursday morning before breaking for the weekend.

The Senate convenes at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The House convenes at 10 a.m. No bills are on the calendar of either chamber.

The following bills are among those filed by legislators:

  • A bill giving limited immunity for ski patrol volunteers who provide first aid or emergency assistance to people injured (HB 32), sponsored by Rep. Andy Dulin, R-Mecklenburg.
  • A bill restoring rights to possess a firearm to certain nonviolent felons (HB 33), introduced by Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven.
  • A bill appropriating $21.8 million to the State Highway Patrol to purchase two rescue helicopters, and provide training and to operate the helicopters (HB 34), introduced by Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow.
  • A bill to increase the number of employers required to use the federal e-verify system when hiring employees (HB 35), introduced by Cleveland.
  • A bill modifying the optometry scope of practice, (HB 36) introduced by Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly.
  • A bill to allow restaurants to use outdoor grills (SB 24), introduced by Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond.
  • A bill to repeal the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, better known as House Bill 2, (SB 25), introduced by Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg.
  • A bill to require pawn brokers to report transactions to an electronic database available to the police (SB 28), introduced by Sen. Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes.