Another Item For The Closing Statement

The influence of legislators in the real estate business has always kept New Mexico in the group of states that do not require official reporting of home sale prices, until now. The 2003 Legislature passed a bill that says when you record a residential real estate contract or deed with a county clerk, you also have to file an affidavit of price with the county assessor.

The affidavit must be signed by all the buyers and sellers, or their agents. It must state the full price, legal description of the property and list all personal property conveyed at the same time. The bill, now before the governor for signature, will make work easier for the county assessors, and they apparently asked for the legislation..

But once again the public is kept in the dark. The new law keeps everything confidential. Residential real estate prices are excluded from the public record under the bill. You will be subject to a $1,000 fine if you or your agent fail to file the affidavit within 30 days.

No problem. In most cases this will be just another item, and another fee, at closing. You pay for the work. But you don’t get the benefit of the work. So if you want to know what houses are selling for in your neighborhood, you still have to see a real estate agent.

The House bill by Speaker Ben Lujan was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Roman Maes, the Santa Fe Realtor who was so active on behalf of his profession during the 2003 session. Whether Maes was encouraged by his professional colleagues or just got inspired by his own interests is uncertain, but here are some of his accomplishments:

— He was instrumental in getting real estate agents excluded from the anti-telemarketing bill.

— He sponsored a bill that would have required Santa Fe County and the City of Santa Fe to stuidy the effects of their zoning and land-use ordinances on the housing industry. His co-sponsor was Sen. Phil Griego, who runs a Santa Fe title company.

— He pushed through an amendment that would have repealed the Santa Fe City Council’s jurisdiction over the extraterritorial zone around the city.

Maes performed a tirade on the Senate floor against the Council, saying that it was standing in the way of “affordable housing.” By protecting the zone around Santa Fe, part of which is the city’s mountain backdrop, the city has made it impossible for workers to find places to live, he said.

“What are you going to do with the undocumented workers? I mean the real work force that helps our hotels and motels?” he asked.

While standing up for worker housing, the senator at the same time escoriated the Santa Fe City Council for its “living wage” ordinance. He said it was “pure, simple economics” that if you double the cost of labor you’re going to double the cost of living.

Maes might not be so pure, but he sure is simple.