Realtors in Pennsylvania soon may be able to cross state lines for a home sale after a new law permitting license reciprocity agreements takes effect Feb. 28.

Governor Ed Rendell passed a law that gives the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission the authority to enter license agreements with other states that have similar laws. The agreements enable consumers to work with one realty agent throughout the home-buying and selling process, even if they cross state borders.

More than 30 states, including Pennsylvania neighbors New York, Ohio and West Virginia, have reciprocity laws, according to the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials.

License reciprocity is an example of how technology has pushed the real estate business beyond neighborhood boundaries and often across state lines. Advances in the Internet, virtual home tours, online transaction management systems and e-signature technology have even enabled many home buyers to close real estate transactions remotely, sometimes without even visiting the property.

However, license reciprocity isn’t a concept entirely born from the Internet. Several states adopted similar laws in the 1970s, according to ARELLO Executive Director Craig Cheatham.

“At some point in the late ’70s or early ’80s, virtually every state in the Midwest had such agreements with each other. That area of the world continues to be the most cooperative in this area,” he said.

Under the new rule, reciprocal licensees would follow the laws and regulations of the state granting the reciprocal license. The law also states that reciprocity will be granted to those states that extend similar reciprocal privileges to Pennsylvania licensees.

Pennsylvania’s new law could prompt neighboring states to adopt similar reciprocity laws. Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey currently do not have these laws in place, but could benefit from entering reciprocity agreements with Pennsylvania since the states may share some consumers.

The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors supports the passage of the license reciprocity law.

“Technological advances have led to a need for this law,” said Ted Stefan, 2003 PAR president. “The advent of the Internet has changed the way consumers look for real estate, and real estate licensees need the ability to adapt to the changing times.”

The law requires the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission to publish on its Web site a list of states with which it has reciprocal agreements.

Rep. Robert Flick (R-Pa.), who introduced the bill into the House last April, believes the law is a win for consumers. Prior to the bill’s passing, home buyers shopping for a home in more than one state had to work with more than one real estate agent.

Home sellers also could benefit from the new law, according PAR President Jerry Romanik. For example, sellers in New York might prosper from a Pennsylvania Realtor sending them a whole new roster of prospective buyers.

“It opens a whole new market for sellers who would be able to open their doors to a whole new pool of potential buyers,” he said.


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