Featured News 2012 Licensing Laws and Lawsuits

Licensing Laws and Lawsuits

In many states, you need a state license in order to sell real estate in the area. Back in the 1970s and 80s, there were hardly any qualms about a law like this one. Yet now, house shopping has gone digital. Real estate agents post web listings of the homes for sale, and can even create digital tours so that house shoppers can feel like their walking through the residency. Only after the shoppers have fallen in love with the digital profile will they make the rip out to see their home in person. This new digital way of house marketing allows real estate agents to advertise homes all over the United States from their own home. That is, they can do so as long as the state isn’t still insisting that real estate agents be licensed in their state.

According to the Journal Star, a California real estate agent is currently suing Nebraska over a licensing law that is keeping her from conducting her business. According to the report, the real estate agent claims that the Nebraska laws violate her first amendment rights. The Nebraskan government states that all real estate agents need to have a state issued license in order to market homes from the area. The real estate agent says that she wants the state to stop enforcing this law, because it is tampering with her business and her rights as an American. Leslie Young, the plaintiff, runs a website called Enlist.me which runs ads for properties that are listed on the ForSaleByOwner.com website.

In March of 2010, the Nebraska Real Estate Commission director told Young that she needed to stop marketing Nebraska properties on her site until she obtained a real estate broker’s license. The young woman received this notification in a cease-and-desist letter. She was appalled. Young filed suit in July of that same year, asking that the state throw away the law because it was a violation of the 14th Amendment Commerce Clause. The case didn’t go very far because judge threw it out in March 2011 saying that the argument had no merit.

Young argues that she is publishing information about the listings and only earns a flat fee for doing so. She claimed that she does not get a commission if the home sells and doesn’t even offer any services to the actual homeowners. Because her participation in the real estate world is only via internet marketing, she claims that she shouldn’t be barred from advertising homes in any state she pleases. Yong’s attorney argues that the state of Nebraska is violating her First Amendment rights by imposing a burdensome licensing requirement. They say that is unconstitutional that she be required to get this license in order to conduct her business.

Authorities in Nebraska argue that the licensing requirement helps them to determine how the property is handled and marketed on a national level. They say that there is no issue if an ad for a for-sale-by-owner property directs potential buyers straight to the owner. In Young’s case, they argue, she is acting as a mediator between the seller and buyer, much like a typical real setae agent. She also acts as an advertising broker, which means that she needs to be licensed by Nebraska law. If you are in a similar situation and are required to get licensed or get extensive paperwork done in order to make real estate transactions, then you may want to argue the principle. Do you believe that the state is challenging your rights as an American? If so, then talk to a real estate attorney today to get the information and representation you need to battle oppressive real estate laws.

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