How far should consumer access to real estate data go?

How far should access to real estate data go in an e-commerce era when consumers expect access and transparency?  Web 2.0 functionality is already opening up new ways for consumers to manipulate real estate data to inform their own homebuying decisions.  For example, The Real Estate Cafe’s clients are using MLS data we provide them to create personalized Google Maps to value properties and make offers in ways that make look simplistic.  Should the real estate industry try to anticipate those needs and provide solutions, or should consumers be free to access housing data and innovate as they please?  Here’s what one future-oriented real estate consumer advocated proposed as the first article of a Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights way back in 1999.  How would you update it for 2005 and beyond?


Article 1. Right of information access without limitation
No consumer should be denied access to information sources just because that individual is not a real estate professional or because the real estate professional attempts to use membership in a trade association or a listing service as a condition of “representation”. To the extent information may be available, its access should not be denied except to lawfully protect the adverse party only.

As written in an earlier blog post entitled, Cell phone bill of rights? Why not real estate?, The Real Estate Cafe will:

1. Use this blog to release one item a day over ten days as a starting point for a draft Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights;

2. If there is sufficient interest, we’ll create a wiki and invite other real estate consumer advocates to to help create the draft Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights;

3. If there is sufficient interest, invite consumers to comment, edit, or add items to the draft Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights; and

4.  If our efforts are credible enough, we’ll submit the draft Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights as written testimony at the upcoming hearing on anti-competitive practices in the residential real estate industry, cosponsored by the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission in Washington, DC on October 25, 2005.

We invite your comments online or by calling us at 617-876-2117 to leave a one to three minute sound bite (which we may include in an upcoming podcast).

Posted in Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights

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