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Builders, Realtors square off on transfer fees

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Environmentalists and builders are uncommon bedfellows, particularly in the political arena. But a fledgling financing mechanism, which can be used by builders to raise money for a variety of purposes when a property changes hands, has made fast friends of frequent foes while breaking some traditional alliances. Proposed legislation in California related to these new fees -- which are collected when a home is sold and are typically based on a percentage of the selling price -- has pitted Realtors against builders and environmentalists. While government entities have passed state or local measures requiring buyers, sellers or both to pay transfer fees related to real estate sales, this relatively new form of fees does not require government approval. The California Association of Realtors, which has about 200,000 members, has supported legislation to restrict the use of transfer fees, though a Senate committee has rejected one of two bills proposed by the association. And the California...