Interstate Land Sales Regulation: The Case for an Expanded Federal Role

Public awareness of the need for protection from fraudulent vendors of undeveloped land recurs periodically and has led to brief flurries of legislative and journalistic attention since the Florida land boom of the 1920s. Despite the rush of state and federal legislation enacted in recent years to combat sharp practices in the land development field, the need for stronger regulation has been revealed by testimony at public hearings held by the Office of Interstate Land Sales Registration as well as by numerous news accounts of questionable tactics employed by some land development promoters. The recent actions of the Federal Trade Commission against deceptive advertising and the warnings of the Better Business Bureau and consumer publications confirm that the present land sales regulation laws have not provided the answer to abuses in the field. The role of the federal government in regulating private sales of subdivided land is currently confined to enforcement of the disclosure requirements of the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act (Act) through the Office of Interstate Land Sales Registration (OILSR), an agency of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The current reports of the persistence of sales practices which the Federal Act was enacted to prevent necessitate an examination of this narrow role.