Where is National Association of Realtors vice president of public affairs Steve Cook getting his stats when he states, “Unfortunately, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of consumers are running into real problems because of the lack of state licensing commission authority over these (minimum-service) situations” (See Inman News guest perspective: “NAR lashes back.”)?
Can Mr. Cook produce copies of even 10 documented complaints to state real estate commissions from consumers who had a bad experience solely because their fee-for-service broker failed to provide them with more service; or are these numbers just a blatant fabrication? Most fee-for-service brokers I know offer early termination and conditional refunds to any seller who will let the broker refer them to a full-service broker should the limited level of service not suit their needs. So who are the sellers that are locked in? Where are these hypothetical people?
Mr. Cook goes on to state that “some state Realtor associations are proposing solutions and some state legislatures are passing legislation by overwhelming majorities.” Well that could be because the strong Realtor lobby that he mentions later in the article is petitioning the legislatures to pass the legislation. Mr. Cook fails to point out that Al Mansell, president of NAR, is also a state senator in Utah and proposed minimum-level-of-service legislation in his state. Is that overwhelming support or special interest running amuck?
Mr. Cook states, “NAR endorses no business model. We (NAR) encourage new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurialism.” As a fee-for-service, broker, I feel no such encouragement from NAR. In fact, I have run across interference from MLSs operated by NAR local boards. I feel that NAR is not encouraging anything but the Status Quo!
Mr. Cook states, “none of AHGA’s (American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance) 5,000 members has been left in the lurch after signing an exclusive agency agreement that locks them into a relationship with a firm that would not or could not answer the phone when a buyer calls or provide the bare minimum of services beyond listing a property.” If Mr. Cook supported innovation, he might be aware that some firms, like ours, use interactive voice-recognition technology to route the calls electronically, saving consumers money and still giving them service.
I contend that the only lurch that exclusive agency sellers are in is when NAR fails to enforce its ban against discouraging exclusive agency listings. Point #7 of NAR MLS rules, which dates back to Nov. 14, 1971, states, “Boards and associations of Realtors and their MLSs shall not prohibit or discourage participants from taking “office exclusive” listings. However, some association-owned MLSs withhold exclusive agency listings from Realtor.com. If that is not discouragement, what is?
The question remains: If Mr. Cook is fighting for Realtors and others are fighting for banking, who is fighting for the consumer? Who is protecting the little guy who is just trying to sell his/her home free of influence from special interest?
Derek Eisenberg is president of MultipleListingSystem.com, a Web site of Continental Real Estate Group Inc.
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