Industry Watch

Industry Watch

April 25, 2004|By From staff reports

State panel worried about backlog of consumer complaints

Members of the Maryland Real Estate Commission said last week that they are concerned about a growing backlog of consumer complaints that they attribute to a dwindling staff.

Commission Chairman Steven VanGrack said the panel needs more investigators and an auditor to handle the volume of inquiries it is receiving from the record number of real estate agents and brokers. The nine-member volunteer panel regulates the real estate industry.

The commission's staff has 12 full-time positions, of which five are vacant.

A bill that would have made the commission independent and given it the authority to raise licensing fees died in the General Assembly this month. Some state lawmakers said they aren't willing to give up control of setting the fees. Real estate commission members, who met last week for the first time last week since the General Assembly session ended, have vowed to push for it again next year.

The number of complaints has change little - 375 were received in 2000 and 388 last year - but amid a real estate boom, the number of licensees has risen to about 40,000, which is 10,000 more than in 2000.

Commission members said consumer complaints can take almost a year to be heard.

Belair-Edison to hold open house tour next week

The Belair-Edison Neighborhoods Inc. will hold an open house Saturday.

The annual SpringFest includes tours of homes for sale and an area flea market. The event is part of the Mayor's Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative. The flea market begins at 8 a.m. at Herring Run Park, at Belair Road and Shannon Drive. Live music and exhibitors start at 10 a.m.

Tours begin at noon, and the last one is at 1:30 p.m. Prospective homebuyers can board a van, tour available homes, meet neighbors and learn about below-market financing.

Information: 410-485-8422.

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