Real estate attorneys object to House Bill 904

Issue October 2005 By Andrea R. Barter, Esq.

Massachusetts real estate lawyers are concerned about legislation filed by a national trade association that would permit non-lawyer corporate settlement service providers to close residential and commercial real estate loans in Massachusetts.

Photo by Bill Archambeault
REBA member Tom Bussone II urged action against pending real estate legislation.
House Bill 904, filed on behalf of the Title/Appraisal Vendor Management Association, an out-of-state trade association, would reverse Massachusetts case law requiring real estate closings to be handled by a lawyer.

Real Estate Bar Association member Tom Bussone II, Beverly, brought REBA’s concerns to the attention of the MBA’s House of Delegates meeting Sept. 21. Bussone said REBA is seeking support to challenge this bill. “My task is to go around the state informing attorneys about this bill, looking for grassroots support to oppose this bill,” said Bussone.

According to REBA, this bill would deprive homebuyers of numerous legal protections by limiting their access to legal advice when purchasing a home. An unregulated, non-attorney closing company would not be obligated to provide a homebuyer with indemnification for client losses, errors and omission insurance coverage, or meet licensing requirements to ensure competency, as attorneys are currently required to do.

There is also concern that Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) dollars generated by real estate transactions will disappear from Massachusetts and reappear as profits in other states, ultimately reducing funding for legal aid programs in Massachusetts.

The MBA has opposed predecessors to this bill and Bussone asked for a continued show of support from MBA members. Grassroots opposition options include inviting Bussone or REBA member Michelle T. Simons, Brecher Wyener Simons Fox & Bolan, LLP, Newton, to present a 45-minute program on the deficiencies of the bill to an MBA member’s interest group, or by e-mailing your representative with a letter in opposition to the bill.