Wednesday, June 18, 2008

County closer to receiving real estate data

Express Staff Writer

County officials and representatives from the Sawtooth Board of Realtors are moving closer on a possible agreement that could soon give the Blaine County Assessor's office access to real estate sales data.

"This has been a work in progress," County Assessor Valdi Pace told the Blaine County Commission Tuesday.

The conversations between Pace, Blaine County Commissioner Tom Bowman and representatives from the board of realtors stem from a bill the Idaho Legislature approved earlier this year that requires real estate sales data to be reported to local realtor groups like the local Sawtooth Board. A similar bill the legislature considered this year that would have required real estate sales disclosure data be provided to county assessors offices was not approved.

For the county to have access to local real estate sales data, a simple majority of the members of the board of realtors would have to approve granting the county assessor's office membership in the local multiple listing service (MLS).

So far, the board seems amenable to this, Pace said, but added that no decision has been made so far. She said the board is asking that in exchange for giving her access to real estate sales data, the board would like to have access to information about individual homes—including things like year built, its floor plan, whether it's been remodeled and the owner's name.

She said the county assessor's office has this kind of publicly available information on file as part of its appraisal program.

"We're willing to work with them and they're very much willing to work with us," she said.

As part of the deal, the county would require the information passed on to the realtor group not be used in any way for bulk junk mailings, Bowman said.

"As long as we can get those assurances I'm comfortable," he said.

The bill approved by the state legislature will not go into effect until July 1 of this year, meaning only a limited amount of real estate sales data will be required to be disclosed next year. The first year the sales data would be required to be disclosed in full is in 2009, meaning the earliest the county could have access to the sales data should the board of realtors vote in their favor would be in 2010.

Still, some matters still must be ironed out before the entire county commission is willing to get on board, Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen indicated Tuesday. Schoen said it wouldn't be a fair trade for the county if some members of the board of realtors chose not to disclose real estate sales data from their clients.

The board is apparently considering what options it has to enforce the disclosure requirement among its members, but hasn't made any decision yet, Bowman said.

But despite the decisions that still need to be made on both sides, he said he walked away from his recent meeting with the board of realtors feeling positive.

"I definitely came away with a partnership type of feeling," he said.

In past meetings, county commissioners have indicated what step they might take should the board of realtors decide against granting membership in the MLS to the assessor's office. If that should happen, the board should expect the county to act to require real estate sales price disclosure, Bowman said during a meeting in May.

"I'm pretty sure if they don't go forward with that we'll enact our own ordinance (requiring disclosure)," he said.

In other county news:

· On Tuesday, county commissioners unanimously approved a resolution supporting the efforts by local nonprofit The Hunger Coalition to help solve the issue of hunger in the county. The Hailey-based coalition mission is to end hunger in the local community by providing wholesome food to those in need and by promoting solutions to the issue of hunger through collaboration, education and advocacy.

Information about the coalition can be found online at

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