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2018 SESSION


CHAPTER 60
An Act to amend and reenact 54.1-2105.01, 54.1-2105.03, 54.1-2105.1, 54.1-2137, 55-519, 55-520, and 55-525 of the Code of Virginia and to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 54.1-2108.2, relating to the Real Estate Board; powers and duties; escrow funds; education.
[H 864]
Approved February 28, 2018

 

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That 54.1-2105.01, 54.1-2105.03, 54.1-2105.1, 54.1-2137, 55-519, 55-520, and 55-525 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted and that the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 54.1-2108.2 as follows:

54.1-2105.01. Educational requirements for all salespersons within one year of licensure.

A. The Board shall establish guidelines for an a post-license educational curriculum of at least 30 hours of classroom, or correspondence or other distance learning, instruction, in specified areas, which shall be required of all salespersons within one the initial year of issuance of a license by the Board licensure. Failure of a new licensee to complete the 30-hour post-licensure curriculum within one year of obtaining a real estate salesperson's license from the last day of the month in which his license was issued shall result in the license being placed on inactive status by the Board until the curriculum has been completed.

B. To establish the guidelines required by this section, the Board shall establish an industry advisory group composed of representatives of the practices of (i) residential real estate, (ii) commercial real estate, and (iii) property management. The industry advisory group shall consist of licensed real estate salespersons and real estate brokers who shall be appointed by and shall meet at the direction of the Board, at least annually, to update the guidelines. The Board shall review and may approve educational curricula developed by an approved school or other provider of real estate education authorized by this chapter. The industry advisory group shall serve at no cost to the Board.

C. The curricula for new licensees shall include topics that new licensees need to know in their practices, including contract writing, handling customer deposits, listing property, leasing property, agency, current industry issues and trends, flood hazard areas and the National Flood Insurance Program, property owners' and condominium association law, landlord-tenant law, Board regulations, real estate-related finance, and such other topics as designated by the Board. The continuing post-licensure education requirements of this section for new licensees shall be in lieu of the continuing education requirements otherwise specified in this chapter and Board regulations.

54.1-2105.03. Continuing education; relicensure of brokers and salespersons.

A. Board regulations shall include educational requirements as a condition for relicensure of brokers and salespersons to whom active licenses have been issued by the Board beyond those now specified by law as conditions for licensure.

1. Brokers to whom active licenses have been issued by the Board shall be required to satisfactorily complete courses of not less than 24 hours of classroom or correspondence or other distance learning instruction during each licensing term. Of the total 24 hours, the curriculum shall consist of:

a. A minimum of eight required hours to include at least three hours of ethics and standards of conduct, two hours of fair housing, and the remaining three hours of legal updates and emerging trends, flood hazard areas and the National Flood Insurance Program, real estate agency, and real estate contracts;

b. A minimum of eight hours of courses relating to supervision and management of real estate agents and the management of real estate brokerage firms as are approved by the Board, two hours of which shall include an overview of the broker supervision requirements under this chapter and the Board regulations; and

c. Eight hours of general elective courses as are approved by the Board.

The Board may, on a year-by-year basis, adjust the required hours and course topics specified in this subdivision for the next succeeding year, applicable to a licensee in the next renewal period for his license, including the addition of topics deemed by the Board to be essential. Such designation or adjustment by the Board shall be made prior to September 1 of any given calendar year. The action of the Board in making such adjustment shall be subject to 2.2-4012.1.

The fair housing requirements shall include an update on current cases and administrative decisions under fair housing laws. If the licensee submits a notarized affidavit to the Board that certifies that he does not practice residential real estate and shall not do so during the licensing term, training in fair housing shall not be required; instead, such licensee shall receive training in other applicable federal and state discrimination laws and regulations.

2. Salespersons to whom active licenses have been issued by the Board shall be required to satisfactorily complete courses of not less than 16 hours of classroom or correspondence or other distance learning instruction during each licensing term. Of the total 16 hours, the curriculum shall consist of:

a. A minimum of eight required hours to include at least three hours of ethics and standards of conduct, two hours of fair housing, and the remaining three hours of legal updates and emerging trends, real estate agency, real estate contracts, and flood hazard areas and the National Flood Insurance Program; and

b. Eight hours of general elective courses as are approved by the Board.

The Board may, on a year-by-year basis, readjust the required hours and course topics specified in this subdivision for the next succeeding year, applicable to a licensee in the next renewal period for his license, including the addition of topics deemed by the Board to be essential. Such designation or adjustment by the Board shall be made prior to September 1 of any given calendar year. The action of the Board in making such adjustment shall be subject to 2.2-4012.1.

3. The Board shall approve a continuing education curriculum of not less than three hours, and as of July 1, 2012, every applicant for relicensure as an active broker or salesperson shall complete at a minimum one three-hour continuing education course on the changes to residential standard agency effective as of July 1, 2011, to Article 3 ( 54.1-2130 et seq.) prior to renewal or reinstatement of his license. If the licensee submits a notarized affidavit to the Board that certifies that he does not practice residential real estate and shall not do so during the licensing term, training in residential representation shall not be required. A licensee who takes one three-hour continuing education class on residential representation shall satisfy the requirements for continuing education and may, but shall not be required to, take any further continuing education on residential standard agency.

The fair housing requirements shall include an update on current cases and administrative decisions under fair housing laws. If the licensee submits a notarized affidavit to the Board that certifies that he does not practice residential real estate and shall not do so during the licensing term, training in fair housing shall not be required; instead, such licensee shall receive training in other applicable federal and state discrimination laws and regulations.

4. For correspondence and other distance learning instruction offered by an approved provider, the Board shall establish the appropriate testing procedures to verify completion of the course and require the licensee to file a notarized affidavit certifying compliance with the course requirements. The Board may establish procedures to ensure the quality of the courses. The Board shall not require testing for continuing education courses completed through classroom instruction.

B. Every applicant for relicensure as an active salesperson or broker shall complete the continuing education requirements prior to each renewal or reinstatement of his license. The continuing education requirement shall also apply to inactive licensees who make application for an active license. Notwithstanding this requirement, military personnel called to active duty in the armed forces of the United States may complete the required continuing education within six months of their release from active duty.

C. The Board shall establish procedures for the carryover of continuing education credits completed by licensees from the licensee's current license period to the licensee's next renewal period.

D. The Board may grant exemptions or waive or reduce the number of continuing education hours required in cases of certified illness or undue hardship as demonstrated to the Board.

54.1-2105.1. Other powers and duties of the Real Estate Board.

In addition to the provisions of 54.1-2105.01 through 54.1-2105.04, the Board shall:

1. Develop a residential property disclosure statement form for use in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 27 ( 55-517 et seq.) of Title 55 and maintain such statement on its website. The Board shall also include develop and maintain on its website the notice required by subsection B of 55-519 a one-page form to be signed by the parties acknowledging that the purchaser has been advised to review the residential property disclosure statement on the Board's website; and

2. Inform licensed brokers, in a manner deemed appropriate by the Board, of the broker's ability to designate an agent pursuant to 54.1-2109 in the event of the broker's death or disability.

54.1-2108.2. Protection of escrow funds, etc., held by a real estate broker in the event of termination of a real estate purchase contract.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, for purchase transactions:

1. Upon the ratification of a contract, an earnest money deposit received by the principal broker or supervising broker or his associates shall be placed in an escrow account by the end of the fifth business banking day following ratification, unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the principals to the transaction, and shall remain in that account until the transaction has been consummated or terminated.

2. In the event that the transaction is not consummated, the principal broker or supervising broker shall hold such funds in escrow until (i) all principals to the transaction have agreed in a written agreement as to their disposition, upon which the funds shall be returned to the agreed-upon principal as provided in such written agreement; (ii) a court of competent jurisdiction orders such disbursement of the funds; (iii) the funds are successfully interpleaded into a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to this section; or (iv) the broker releases the funds to the principal to the transaction who is entitled to receive them in accordance with the clear and explicit terms of the contract that established the earnest money deposit.

At the option of a broker, written notice may be sent by the broker that release of such funds shall be made unless a written protest is received from the principal who is not receiving the funds by such broker within 15 calendar days of the date of such notice. Notice of a disbursement shall be given to the parties to the transaction in accordance with the contract, but if the contract does not specify a method of delivery, one of the following methods complies with this section: (a) hand delivery; (b) United States mail, postage prepaid, provided that the sender retains sufficient proof of mailing, which may be either a United States postal certificate of mailing or a certificate of service prepared by the sender confirming such mailing; (c) electronic means, provided that the sender retains sufficient proof of the electronic delivery, which may be an electronic receipt of delivery, a confirmation that the notice was sent by facsimile, or a certificate of service prepared by the sender confirming the electronic delivery; or (d) overnight delivery using a commercial service or the United States Postal Service. Except as provided in the clear and explicit terms of the contract, no broker shall be required to make a determination as to the party entitled to receive the earnest money deposit. A broker who complies with this section shall be immune from liability to any of the parties to the contract.

3. A principal broker or supervising broker holding escrow funds for a principal to the transaction may seek to have a court of competent jurisdiction take custody of disputed or unclaimed escrow funds via an interpleader action pursuant to 16.1-77.

4. If a principal broker or supervising broker is holding escrow funds for the owner of real property and such property is foreclosed upon by a lender, the principal broker or supervising broker shall have the right to file an interpleader action pursuant to 16.1-77 and otherwise comply with the provisions of 54.1-2108.1.

54.1-2137. Commencement and termination of brokerage relationships.

A. The brokerage relationships set forth in this article shall commence at the time that a client engages a licensee and shall continue until (i) completion of performance in accordance with the brokerage agreement or (ii) the earlier of (a) any date of expiration agreed upon by the parties as part of the brokerage agreement or in any amendments thereto, (b) any mutually agreed upon termination of the brokerage agreement, (c) a default by any party under the terms of the brokerage agreement, or (d) a termination as set forth in subsection F subsection G of 54.1-2139.

B. Brokerage agreements shall be in writing and shall:

1. Have a definite termination date; however, if a brokerage agreement does not specify a definite termination date, the brokerage agreement shall terminate 90 days after the date of the brokerage agreement;

2. State the amount of the brokerage fees and how and when such fees are to be paid;

3. State the services to be rendered by the licensee;

4. Include such other terms of the brokerage relationship as have been agreed to by the client and the licensee; and

5. In the case of brokerage agreements entered into in conjunction with the client's consent to a dual representation, the disclosures set out in subsection A of 54.1-2139.

C. Except as otherwise agreed to in writing, a licensee owes no further duties to a client after termination, expiration, or completion of performance of the brokerage agreement, except to (i) account for all moneys and property relating to the brokerage relationship and (ii) keep confidential all personal and financial information received from the client during the course of the brokerage relationship and any other information that the client requests during the brokerage relationship be maintained confidential, unless otherwise provided by law or the client consents in writing to the release of such information.

55-519. Required disclosures for buyer to beware; buyer to exercise necessary due diligence.

A. The owner of the residential real property shall furnish to a purchaser a residential property disclosure statement for the buyer to beware of certain matters that may affect the buyer's decision to purchase such real property. Such statement shall be on a form provided by the Real Estate Board on its website.

B. The residential property disclosure statement provided by the Real Estate Board on its website shall include the following:

1. The owner makes no representations or warranties as to the condition of the real property or any improvements thereon, or with regard to any covenants and restrictions as may be recorded among the land records affecting the real property or any improvements thereon, and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary, including obtaining a home inspection, as defined in 54.1-500, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

2. The owner makes no representations with respect to any matters that may pertain to parcels adjacent to the subject parcel, including zoning classification or permitted uses of adjacent parcels, and that purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary with respect to adjacent parcels in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

3. The owner makes no representations to any matters that pertain to whether the provisions of any historic district ordinance affect the property and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary with respect to any historic district designated by the locality pursuant to 15.2-2306, including review of (i) any local ordinance creating such district, (ii) any official map adopted by the locality depicting historic districts, and (iii) any materials available from the locality that explain (a) any requirements to alter, reconstruct, renovate, restore, or demolish buildings or signs in the local historic district and (b) the necessity of any local review board or governing body approvals prior to doing any work on a property located in a local historic district, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

4. The owner makes no representations with respect to whether the property contains any resource protection areas established in an ordinance implementing the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act ( 62.1-44.15:67 et seq.) adopted by the locality where the property is located pursuant to 62.1-44.15:74 and that purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary to determine whether the provisions of any such ordinance affect the property, including review of any official map adopted by the locality depicting resource protection areas, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

5. The owner makes no representations with respect to information on any sexual offenders registered under Chapter 23 ( 19.2-387 et seq.) of Title 19.2 and that purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary with respect to such information, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

6. The owner makes no representations with respect to whether the property is within a dam break inundation zone. Such disclosure statement shall advise purchasers to exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary with respect to whether the property resides within a dam break inundation zone, including a review of any map adopted by the locality depicting dam break inundation zones;

7. The owner makes no representations with respect to the presence of any stormwater detention facilities located on the property, or any maintenance agreement for such facilities, and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary to determine the presence of any stormwater detention facilities on the property, or any maintenance agreement for such facilities, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

8. The owner makes no representations with respect to the presence of any wastewater system, including the type or size thereof or associated maintenance responsibilities related thereto, located on the property and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary to determine the presence of any wastewater system on the property and the costs associated with maintaining, repairing, or inspecting any wastewater system, including any costs or requirements related to the pump-out of septic tanks, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

9. The owner makes no representations with respect to any right to install or use solar energy collection devices on the property;

10. The owner makes no representations with respect to whether the property is located in one or more special flood hazard areas and purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence they deem necessary, including (i) obtaining a flood certification or mortgage lender determination of whether the property is located in one or more special flood hazard areas, (ii) review of any map depicting special flood hazard areas, and (iii) whether flood insurance is required, in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract;

11. The owner makes no representations with respect to whether the property is subject to one or more conservation or other easements and that purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract; and

12. The owner makes no representations with respect to whether the property is subject to a community development authority approved by a local governing body pursuant to Article 6 ( 15.2-5152 et seq.) of Chapter 51 of Title 15.2 and that purchasers are advised to exercise whatever due diligence a particular purchaser deems necessary in accordance with terms and conditions as may be contained in the real estate purchase contract, including determining whether a copy of the resolution or ordinance has been recorded in the land records of the circuit court for the locality in which the community development authority district is located for each tax parcel included in the district pursuant to 15.2-5157, but in any event, prior to settlement pursuant to such contract.

C. The residential property disclosure statement shall be delivered in accordance with 55-520.

55-520. Time for disclosure; termination of contract.

A. The owner of residential real property subject to this chapter shall provide notification to the purchaser of any disclosures required by this chapter prior to the ratification of a real estate purchase contract or otherwise be subject to the provisions of subsection B. The disclosures required by this chapter shall be on forms provided by the Real Estate Board on its website.

B. If the disclosures required by this chapter are delivered to the purchaser after ratification of the real estate purchase contract, the purchaser's sole remedy shall be to terminate the real estate purchase contract at or prior to the earliest of (i) three days after delivery of the disclosure statement in person or by electronic delivery; (ii) five days after the postmark if the disclosure statement is deposited in the United States mail, postage prepaid, and properly addressed to the purchaser; (iii) settlement upon purchase of the property; (iv) occupancy of the property by the purchaser; (v) the purchaser making written application to a lender for a mortgage loan where such application contains a disclosure that the right of termination shall end upon the application for the mortgage loan; or (vi) the execution by the purchaser after receiving the disclosure statement required by this chapter of a written waiver of the purchaser's right of termination under this chapter contained in a writing separate from the real estate purchase contract. In order to terminate a real estate purchase contract when permitted by this chapter, the purchaser must, within the times required by this chapter, give written notice to the owner by one of the following methods:

1. Hand delivery;

2. United States mail, postage prepaid, provided that the sender retains sufficient proof of mailing, which may be a certificate of service prepared by the sender confirming such mailing;

3. Electronic delivery; or

4. Overnight delivery using a commercial service or the United States Postal Service.

If the purchaser terminates a real estate purchase contract in compliance with this chapter, the termination shall be without penalty to the purchaser, and any deposit shall be promptly returned to the purchaser.

C. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection B of 55-524, no purchaser of residential real property located in a noise zone designated on the official zoning map of the locality as having a day-night average sound level of less than 65 decibels shall have the right to terminate a real estate purchase contract pursuant to this section for failure of the property owner to timely provide any disclosure required by this chapter.

55-525. Real Estate Board to develop form; when effective.

An owner shall be required to make disclosures required by this chapter for real property subject to a real estate purchase contract which that is fully executed by all parties thereto on and after January 1, 2008. On or before January 1, 2008, the The Real Estate Board shall develop the form for signature by the parties advising the purchaser to review the residential property disclosure statement on the Board's website in accordance with 54.1-2105.1. The Board may at any time amend the residential property disclosure statement and the form for signature by the parties as the Board deems necessary and appropriate.

2. That the provisions of this act amending 54.1-2105.01 and 54.1-2105.03 of the Code of Virginia shall become effective on January 1, 2019.