The California Association of Realtors issued the following memo yesterday:
Effective immediately, title companies may be eliminating much of the information they provide on property profiles. The California Department of Insurance recently issued a letter taking the position that title companies may only give the following information on property profiles:
- Names of owners of record of a specified real property;
- Description of real property; and
- Property characteristics as defined under section 408.3 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code, which means year of construction of improvements, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, number of units, acreage, and other attributes or amenities (such as swimming pools, views, zoning classification or restrictions, and use code designations).
The Department further indicated its position was based on existing law and unrelated to SB 133, the Title Industry-sponsored bill that greatly restricted promotional activities to licensees and became effective this year. C.A.R. disagrees with this position and is aggressively working to persuade the Department of Insurance to reconsider in light of the legislative intent language of the older law on which the decision is based.
Meanwhile, REALTORS® will likely encounter a title company's refusal to provide free of charge any other information, such as recorded documents, sales comps, tax bills, or demographics. This type of information is still available through other sources, such as county recorder's offices, tax assessor's offices, and governmental and public record websites and private services for a fee. Clients may also have their own copies of some of the documents. In response, C.A.R. is proactively seeking to provide REALTORS® with a viable solution to this situation, by exploring legal and legislative options, as well as the possibility of providing new member services or benefits to lower the cost of obtaining the information.
In my opinion, this is just another attempt of the government trying to gain more control of our industry. The information in a property profile is public information and is obtainable by other means than Title companies. So what is the harm? The bottom line is that with all the foreclosures and short sales, everyone is losing money-the banks, the sellers, the state and county through property taxes. The only ones making a profit through this are Realtors. They want more control, so they are chipping away from the perimeters since they haven't been successful attacking full on. Just another example of politicians making decisions about our business when they have no idea what we do or how we do it.