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Realtors association keeps close eye on legislation that will affect industry

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Even with big-ticket items such as education reform and prison overcrowding on the table, there's still plenty of room for other issues.

West Virginia Association of Realtors Executive Vice President Raymond Joseph watches issues that affect his group at the Capitol, and he says it's not always what might be expected.

Issues in the assessor's office and with appraisers also relate to real estate and keep him busy.

Joseph said a lot of bills he's tracking in the 2013 regular legislative session are from those "other categories."

"We obviously watch those as well, because they're a piece of the real estate business," Joseph said.

One bill his office is strongly supporting is House Bill 2497, which would require real estate applicants receive background checks before receiving their licenses.

"We believe that bill is critical," he said. "People don't think it through, but when you realize a real estate agent has a key and 24-7 access to your home, whether it's occupied or vacant, it's so important to go through that background check.

Joseph said it would add an extra level of security.

The bill has passed the full House of Delegates and is currently awaiting debate in the Senate Government Organization Committee. Joseph said he has worked on that legislation for several years in a row and is hopeful this is the year it passes.

Joseph said bills that make technical changes to offices such as the state tax department stay on his radar as well because of the repercussions the real estate industry could see.

But Joseph said the 2013 session so far has been "fairly average" in terms of potential bills that could affect his industry. He said he supports anything that would strengthen individuals' property rights and his group also supported the fair housing opportunities bill.

"The Legislature, I think, for the most part, has an appreciation of individual property rights in West Virginia," he said. "Obviously this is something we support and protect, and West Virginia is in the 85th percentile in home ownership, so it's important to West Virginia."