Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 11:33 AM on Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Proposed hike in real estate license fees scaled back



By PAT FORGEY
Morris News Service - Alaska

State officials are saying the cost of a real estate license will go up only $100, hundreds less than had originally been proposed.

The current $275 fee for a two-year license had been proposed to go to $685.

The change was "based on the robust public comment on the fee increase proposal as it came out in the draft stage," said Don Haberger, the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development's director of the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.

Deputy Commissioner Curtis Thayer told the Legislature's Budget and Audit Committee Monday of the reduction as it met in Anchorage, but has yet to receive extensive feedback on the proposed reduction in the increase, he said.

"I would expect the real estate community would be more in favor of the $100 increase than it was the $685 increase," Haberger said.

A strong turnout from real estate professionals at a recent House Community and Regional Affairs Committee meeting showed intense and geographically widespread opposition.

The state licensing programs are intended to be self-supporting by recovering their costs, but a series of unexpected investigations in the last year drove the state to seek more revenue.

Real estate agents said the state should cut costs by reining in regulators rather than raising fees.

Haberger said costs would have to be cut, and officials will work with the Alaska Real Estate Commission to figure out the best places to cut.

"We will have to look at each and every aspect of the program and come up with a package that meets our needs," Haberger said.

Additional cost savings are possible with efficiency and automation, he said. The state wants all of its professional licensing done with more automation.

Pat Forgey is a reporter for the Juneau Empire.

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