BrokerageIndustry News

Consumer protection vs. competition

Setting higher standards for real estate

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In last week's column, I wrote about the so-called "raise the bar" movement for real estate professionals and the call for higher licensing requirements and stricter standards to become a member of the National Association of Realtors. I offer suggestions here on exactly how high the bar should be set and why a bar should exist, if at all. Why a bar at all? The ostensible reason -- given by every industry that cajoles or threatens or in some other way convinces the government to create licensing schemes limiting the number and types of people who can practice that profession -- is consumer protection. For example, the New Jersey law establishing the state Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling Laws states in section 45:5B-2(b): "The Legislature finds and declares that it is a valid public purpose: To protect those persons of the general public who are direct recipients of the services regulated by this act and registered students receiving instruction at license...