New rules governing Neb. real estate industry remain on hold while judge weighs argumentsBy Josh Funk, AP
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Judge hears arguments about Neb. real estate rules
OMAHA, Neb. — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered lawyers to submit written arguments on whether he should extend his order blocking enforcement of new rules governing Nebraska’s real estate industry.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon heard oral arguments on the matter Tuesday but did not immediately rule on a request for a preliminary injunction. A California woman who runs a home-sale website is challenging the rules and fighting a sanction from the Nebraska Real Estate Commission.
Leslie Rae Young claims the changes to the Nebraska Real Estate License Act that took effect July 15 were unconstitutional because they gave the commission jurisdiction beyond Nebraska. She also says the act does not provide enough guidance on whether she must be licensed in the state, among other things.
The changes Nebraska lawmakers approved this year gave state regulators the authority to issue cease and desist orders against anyone who performs the duties of a real estate broker without holding a valid Nebraska license. The commission also received the power to levy fines of up to $1,000 per day for unlicensed conduct or seize all commissions earned improperly.
Bataillon ordered lawyers on both sides to submit written briefs by Aug. 10. If he issues an injunction, it would block enforcement of the rules until after Young’s lawsuit is settled.
Lawyers for Young and state officials didn’t immediately respond to messages left Tuesday.
Young is a real estate broker licensed in California, but not in Nebraska. Last month, the commission ordered her to stop advertising Nebraska properties on her website, www.elist.me.
Young said in court documents that her website offers advertising to homeowners who wish to sell their properties “without the use of a commission-charging Realtor.” Her clients, including at least one in Nebraska, are charged a flat-fee for her advertising service, court records say.
The Nebraska Real Estate Commission sent her a letter dated July 20 that said she was considered a broker under Nebraska law but was operating without a state license and had to stop within 10 days, which would be Friday, according to court records. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges and fines up to $1,000 per day, the letter said.
Young has asked the court to permanently throw out the changes to the Nebraska law and for attorney’s fees.
Nebraska Real Estate Commission: www.nrec.state.ne.us
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