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Kootenai property price disclosure won’t be required

A proposal requiring Kootenai County property buyers to divulge sale prices is off the table following an agreement by the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors to share data with the county.

The deal, expected to be signed this afternoon, gives the county limited access to sale price data used to determine the fair market values of homes – numbers used to calculate property taxes.

Kootenai and Bonner counties last year proposed to be the first in Idaho to require sale price disclosure after the Realtors’ Multiple Listing Services ended contracts with them. The services were concerned the counties could be forced to turn over proprietary numbers members pay to access.

While the new deal doesn’t fully allay qualms about disclosure, it does give taxpayers access to information they would need to appeal an assessment without turning over all the data the county assessor can see, said Peter Smith, an attorney for the Realtors association. The county assessor will have the same level of access given to private appraisers.

“This agreement really is a reestablishment of an agreement that we’ve had since the early ‘90s,” said Kootenai County Assessor Mike McDowell.

The association wanted to avoid possible tax increases that could stem from the county assessor needing additional staff to compensate for the loss of data, said Kim Cooper, association spokesman.

There’s no longer a need for the ordinance, said Commissioner Richard Piazza.

“It accomplished what it needed to do; it brought everybody to the table again,” he said.

The Coeur d’Alene service provided sale data about a month ago so assessors could continue working, McDowell said.

“On our end, we need the sold information to accurately track what’s going on in the marketplace,” he said.In Bonner County, which has an ordinance drafted, Assessor Jerry Clemons said he is waiting to see what happens in Kootenai County. The county had turned down a deal proposed by the Selkirk Association of Realtors, he said.

“Assuming that (the Kootenai deal) gets signed, then my idea would be to take the same agreement and change the name from Kootenai to Bonner and present that to our Realtors,” Clemons said.

Brokers can ask that sale prices be kept secret at the request of a buyer or seller, Cooper said.

The Coeur d’Alene association worries obligatory disclosure could lead to more taxes.

“Though the proposed ordinance expressly stated the information collected could not be used as a basis for a real estate transfer or excise tax, sales price disclosure is one step away from a real estate transfer or excise tax,” Smith said in a prepared statement.

Idaho is one of a handful of states where price disclosure is not required, as it is in Washington.

The Idaho Association of County Assessors would like to see a statewide mandate, which is its top legislative priority this year, McDowell said.

“We’d get better information at less cost,” he said. “And this is kind of the next-best thing.”