The Carroll County Association of Realtors is to be commended for asking the Westminster Council to improve zoning disclosure provisions to aid prospective homebuyers.
The association wants officials to approve legislation requiring property owners or real estate brokers to provide copies of the city zoning map, comprehensive plan and the subdivision plat to prospective buyers.
The legislation also provides that buyers can waive their right to the information.
"We've been caught up in a situation, particularly in Wakefield Valley, that the disclosure was not in writing," Sylvia Gorman, president of the association, told city fathers last December. "After the property was sold, there was some question whether the owner was told about the mining or the proposed commercial strip in the area."
The group pointed out that most property in the city limits is not sold by Realtors.
"Sixty percent (of the transactions) are handled by other entities than Realtors," Realtor Marshall "Mac" Shaw said, adding that private sellers don't always know the zoning regulations they should tell buyers.
Not all people agree with the proposal.
Well-known county developer Martin K. P. Hill said that even with such disclosure, citizens wouldn't always understand what the plans mean.
And Westminster Planning and Zoning Commission member Marjorie Lohnes called the legislation unnecessary.
"The Realtors should regulate their own industry and make sure that all of them follow it," she said. "That's poor business judgment (not to disclose the information)."
On another homebuyer protection issue, a joint state House and Senate committee decided a few weeks ago not to draft legislation requiring real estate agents to confirm that a property is accurately listed.
The state Department of Fiscal Services had recommended legislation to require licensees to confirm listings for accuracy, as a measure to protect buyers from inferior property.
While the decision is not binding on House or Senate members, suchaction usually means the demise of the bill in question.
It's unfortunate that the opponents of both proposals are missing the point: the more disclosure, the better. That's true on almost any issue.
All businesses should regulate their own industries, and most do a fairly good job. But as in any industry, there always are a few bad apples that can spoil the bunch if left to their own devices.
And that's why we have local, state, federal -- and, in some cases, international -- regulations for industries.