Minimum-service laws worsen real problem

Perspective: Real estate needs more clarity, less complexity

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More than a dozen U.S. states now have so-called "minimum-service" or "limited-service" laws, which purport to protect home buyers and sellers from the supposedly egregious conduct of "discount" brokers who don't provide all of the traditional real estate brokerage services. These laws are unnecessary and confusing at best and detrimental to the public interest at worst. Among the latest incarnations are new laws in Virginia and Tennessee. The Virginia version requires real estate licensees to provide certain services within an agency relationship or disclose which services won't be provided within a limited-service representation. The Tennessee version requires real estate agents to provide certain services and, if the seller opts to "waive" any of those services, inform him or her that those services can't be sought from any other agent in the transaction. A proposal on the table in Michigan also would require real estate agents and brokers to provide a specific set of s...