Glad to read that fellow real estate innovators are blogging about a real estate consumer bill of rights and that a CNN reporter may be working on a story. Given that, maybe it would be worthwhile for readers to collaborate on a short history of efforts to create a Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights. Since everyone in Boston is talking about the “Rolling Rally” today for the World Champion Red Sox, hope you don’t mind if I use a baseball metaphor to categorize time:
1st Inning: To my knowledge, Erle Rawlins, a buyer agent / consumer advocate in Dallas, Texas wrote the first draft of a real estate consumer bill of rights in 1999. A working draft is currently online on The Real Estate Cafe’s wiki. Our goal is to invite the public to comment and coauthor on the wiki.
2nd Inning: Two years later, in May 2001, a coalition of leading real estate consumer advocates nationwide — including buyer agents, fee-for-service consultants, and for sale by owner publishers — cosigned a petition calling for a Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights which Consumer Union, publishers of Consumer Reports, echoed in their testimony in Congressional hearings on banks as brokers:
“We also call on Congress to hold hearings on the real estate marketplace. …Are consumers being treated fairly by real estate brokers? Are commissions priced fairly?” asked Consumers Union legislative counsel Frank Torres during testimony May 2nd before the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.
3rd Inning: Note sure of the dates, by my recollection is that some government agencies began discussing a borrower’s bill of rights. Here’s a link to one version by the Mortgage Bankers Association published on their website, StopMortgageFraud.com, copyright 2002. (Your comments and links to other borrower’s bill of rights are most welcome.)
4th Inning: In May 2006, The Real Estate Cafe reminded fellow real estate consumer advocates that it had been five years since the call for Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights had been heard in Congressional testimony. That was six months after we initially blogged about the topic.
5th Inning: To my knowledge, Redfin released their version of a real estate consumer bill of rights about seven months ago, on or around April 2, 2007. Personally, I was pleased to see Redfin expand talk about creating a real estate consumer bill of rights and encourage others to separate the need for consumer protection from their critique of Redfin.
6th inning: The call for a real estate consumer was greeted enthusiastically in informal conversations at a workshop on mortgages and lending hosted by the Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services at the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston on Friday, October 26, 2007.
Where will those private conversations with legal and consumer advocacy groups lead? I hope there will be a growing recognition that a Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights is long overdue and more timely than ever. Whether you are a homebuyer, seller, or professional, we’d love to know what you would like to see included in a Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights. As written in the past, I’d love to see real estate commissions separated. This short video / slide show, created nearly two years ago, bullet points 10 mega-trends leading towards that tipping point.