Realtors Support Small Business Healthcare Access In CT

Apr 12, 2012

Connecticut’s realtors are throwing their weight behind the effort to allow small businesses to buy into the state’s health insurance pool. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

About 600 realtors gathered at the Capitol Thursday to lobby legislators about a range of issues. But Bob Kimball, the president of the Connecticut Association of Realtors says one issue at the forefront of everyone’s mind has little to do with the housing market – health insurance.

“We’re not asking for it to be given to us, we’re just asking that we can have the coverage that we can afford to pay.”

Most realtors are independent business people and have to buy coverage on the individual market.

“They can get insurance which costs some of our members $1,500 to $2,500 a month, but there’s no group plans.”

For that reason, the association is supporting two bills this session, one of which would allow small businesses to purchase coverage through the state employee plan. In effect it’s an attempt to revive a provision that was stripped from the Sustinet legislation last year. Kimball says realtors are speaking up, and he’d like to see more small business owners get active on the issue.

“There seem to be other organizations that seem to be in the same predicament that we’re in but they’re not saying too much about it. What we need to have done is to have them come forth and start talking like we are and I think something will happen here.”

Kimball says the state seems to be seeing a patchy recovery in the housing market, with some areas ahead of others. But he says short sales and foreclosures are still a looming issue, acting as a brake on the market.

“There’s all kind of conjecture out there, but most everybody out there is waiting for the other foot to fall, that there’s foreclosures that have not surfaced yet, and will be coming down the pike.”

For that reason, realtors are proposing a change to the state’s foreclosure rules. The association wants to see judges have discretion to order a foreclosure by market sale, where the owner is allowed 120 days to attempt to sell the home on the open market.

“The person who’s being foreclosed upon might benefit by being able to sell the house for more than what the bank’s going to take it for. It will keep these investors from buying up these properties cheap and then reselling them. It would stop some blight in some of the neighborhoods if these people were just given a chance to sell the house. And this way here the judge would control it and it would be much more fair and equitable than what we have with what we call short sales at the present time.”

Realtors say they’re also supporting the Learn Here Live Here bill currently in the legislature that aims to make it easier for young people graduating from college in Connecticut to settle here and buy a home.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.