The complexity of the home-sale process can leave buyers and sellers alike feeling dazed and confused, with real estate brokerage and mortgage professionals surrounded by a host of other supporting professionals to complete a single transaction: home inspectors, pest inspectors, appraisers, title insurance agents, escrow agents, attorneys and land surveyors, among others.

And the various fees and other costs associated with this gamut of primary and ancillary real estate services can be a source of frustration for consumers, adding thousands of dollars in additional costs to the sale.

The complexity of the home-sale process can leave buyers and sellers alike feeling dazed and confused, with real estate brokerage and mortgage professionals surrounded by a host of other supporting professionals to complete a single transaction: home inspectors, pest inspectors, appraisers, title insurance agents, escrow agents, attorneys and land surveyors, among others.

And the various fees and other costs associated with this gamut of primary and ancillary real estate services can be a source of frustration for consumers, adding thousands of dollars in additional costs to the sale.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is planning on Jan. 1 to implement numerous changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, such as the use of a standardized good faith estimate form to aid consumers in finding the best deal on mortgage and settlement services.

During the month of September, Inman News will feature a special coverage focus on transparency — including cost transparency — for real estate settlement services.

We invite your commentary and guest essays on how regulators and innovators are working to bring this transparency, and welcome your input on likely successes and failures that will accompany this process.

Share your thoughts with us on what can be done and what must be done to make settlement services more consumer-friendly. Has technology made settlement services more efficient, more effective and less costly to consumers? Where is there still room for improvement? Are consumers overpaying for services? Is there enough competition in the settlement services marketplace? What role should real estate agents and brokers play in the settlement services process and what role shouldn’t they play?

We want to hear from you.

Phrase your thoughts in the form of an essay, 500 words or less, and send the essay to future@inman.com. Essays must not be of a promotional nature and must be submitted by Sept. 25. The winning essay, selected by the Inman News Editorial Department, will receive a free pass (for new registrants only) to the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference in New York City, which runs from Jan. 13-15, 2010.

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