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Controversial practices used by incumbents & innovators renew call for Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights


“Upstarts are beating incumbents at their own game” the headline shouted this morning in a leading #RETech news service; but within minutes, comments fired back with a screenshot raising questions about controversial business practices.

Privately, real estate consumer advocates have shared unrelated video with regulators documenting misrepresentations made by another real estate giant. With an FTC / DOJ workshop on anti-competitive business practices on June 5, the stakes are high in this incumbents vs #REStartUps battle – a potential $30 BILLION dollars annually in consumer savings.

If practices used by incumbents and startups are both raising questions, what’s the best way for ordinary consumers to decide who’s right and who’s wrong? Understand and assert your rights, consumer rights.

Against that backdrop, it is both ironic and appropriate that this controversy is unfolding on the 17th anniversary of the call for a Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights. On May 1, 2001 a petition signed by 38 real estate consumer advocates was submitted to the Federal Reserve Board to form a Real Estate Consumer Alliance and draft a Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights:

The next day, an attorney for Consumer Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, echoed the call asking “Are consumers being treated fairly by real estate brokers? Are commissions priced fairly?” in his testimony before the Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

As mega-brokers morph into data companies and Facebook failings underline the need to protect personal data and privacy, let’s use the anniversary to update the #REBillOfRights. Here’s a partial history of attempts to draft a real estate or homebuyer bill of rights, including one by Redfin, dating back to 1999:

While some may prefer to focus on playing defense against unfair and deceptive business practices, other innovators outside the real estate industry are eager to help consumers leverage new digital “superpowers” to manage their digital identity and save money. To join that open collaboration, visit #RE2020:

Join us virtually or in person at ImpactHub Boston’s Open Project Night, this evening at 50 Milk St in the Financial District, 6:00-8:30pm.

Posted in Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Designated Agency, Disrupt Real Estate, DIY Homebuyers, Dual Agency Detective, Fee-for-service real estate, HousingID, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance

The Future of Real Estate: Moon shots or consumer movements? #RE2020


Yesterday, a leading real estate tech conference announced that Realogy’s new CEO, Ryan Schneider, would be making his public debut at their event.  His topic: “How Technology and Data Can Send Your Business to the Moon.” Before reading our response, understand the scale of this giant real estate brokerage holding company is unrivaled and some would argue troublesome:

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Ryan, Welcome to the real estate industry. Your perspective as an industry outsider should be insightful, but before you launch the industry’s expectations towards the moon, can we use ask some basic questions pre-countdown?

As others may have told you, real estate agents can be fiercely independent, many preferring to work solo orbiting neighborhoods when and where their clients need help. Should “indie brokers” and individual agents be more concerned about getting to the moon or getting clients the best price and terms on homes that launch their preferred lifestyles not the agent’s ego?

If you’ve not been house hunting in an overheated housing market like Boston, you may be surprised that some smart people might think getting to the moon is easier than finding affordable housing. It’s not just the price, lunar missions have a distinct competitive advantage — an internal GPS guided by mission control, whereas homebuyers are routinely manipulated in BLIND bidding wars. Want to work on something together? Let’s start with data-driven insights that protect homebuyers from missing their target, or at a minimum make offers in conflict-free, transparent process so they don’t overpay for the “wrong” house?

Back to your topic and other things we can work on: There are unverified reports that retailers pulled in a record 700 terabytes of consumers’ personal information on Cyber Monday, but we don’t need The Onion (or a director of the CFPB worthy of that title) to tell us that’s wrong. There’s clearly a difference between big data and personal data; the moon shot is asking whether there’s a way to anonymize, share, aggregate and analyze both to benefit consumers, brokers, smart cities and society? How do we get there?

Here are some questions others have been thinking about, and invite your feedback before you take the stage at #ICNY18:

1. Who’s data is it and how can they leverage it?

2. What ethical obligations do real estate agents and brokerages have with regard to personal data?

3. Do we need to extend fiduciary rules, rights and disclosures beyond the transaction into a future where smart homes operate autonomously and consumers manage their own digital identity?

Speaking of autonomous, anyone in InmanVille on NAR Stratregic Thinking Advisory Group want to share their concerns about autonomous homebuyers, and what implications they might have for the rocket fuel (revenue) necessary for Indie brokers or mega-brokers to stay in orbit?

While some fear an autonomous future, others dream about autonomous vehicles as solutions to urban problems. Before writing that off, let’s not forget that unmanned space crafts were instrumental in America’s quest to reach the moon before their Russian rivals and continue to this day. Further, for nearly 20 years those rivals have collaborated on international space station. Can you see a way for industry competitors to share data that will improve the housing ecosystem worldwide in our lifetime? Any lessons we can learn about data sharing from your innovations at Capital One, or from your former rival, MasterCard’s City Possible Movement — a systemic vision to solving problems on this planet? Wouldn’t that make more sense than shooting for the moon?

Want to inspire another movement — something akin to President Kennedy’s challenge in 1961 to put an American astronaut on the moon by the end of the decade? Let’s clean-up the industry and invite others to cocreate a money-saving real estate ecosystem, so consumers — some of whom can scarcely afford to gaze at the moon — can achieve their dream: landing in a safe, affordable neighborhood their families can call home.

Invite you and others, particularly consumer advocates and innovators from #RETech, #FinTech, #CivicTech & #LegalTech communities, to discuss the future of the real estate industry using #RE2020.  Let’s see how far we can get by the end of this decade: (share via social media)

Posted in Consumer protection, Crowdsourcing, DIY Homebuyers, Dual Agency Detective, HousingID, Personal data, RE2020, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, Real Estate Roundtables, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance

Real Estate: Change benefits consumers, invite multiple stakeholders to collaborate

Share moneysaving crowdfunding campaign w/ #DIY homebuyers using

Twenty-five years ago, Ralph Nader said you call tell a lot about an industry by the way members talk to each other.  To dramatize that point, here’s a revealing update from agent-to-agent Facebook group called, Real Estate is Broken — What Are We Gonna Do About It?

Responding to the crowdfunding proposal above, @RealEstateCafe wrote:

Based on the list you shared three years, it’s clear we agree the industry needs to change.  That recognition is good for both the industry and consumers:

Beyond those issues are more fundamental concerns about the future of the real estate ecosystem.  Questions asked in NAR’s Strategic Thinking report point to an existential crisis; and to my surprise, now say the CONSUMER — not the Realtor — is at the center of the transaction.  That report also points to “autonomous consumers” — primarily homebuyers, are using “inventive ways to find homes for themselves” (Source:  Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017). drove small independent booksellers out of business only to open their own bookstore.  Zillow attracts 160 million visitors per month, but they’d risk undermining their Realtor-advertising business model if they open a storefront.  Nonetheless,bricks & mortar are increasingly an unnecessary drag on traditional offices, virtual brokerages need an alternative to meetings at Starbucks, entrepreneurs and #RETech innovators working solo need a place to gather.  What’s are the options?  Here’s one idea starter — feedback welcome:

Think Apple Genius Desk meets DIY consumers meets CoWorking Space for Best of Breed moneysaving apps & innovators:

NAR’s new leadership wants to “embrace” disruptors and @CRTLabs — the Center for Realtor Technology embodies their evolutionary approach.  To focus on new technologies, NAR announced a new Strategic Business & Technology Group at their recent convention in Chicago.  Suggested background reading from Inman News:

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg: Disrupters aren’t ‘the bogeyman’

NAR’s leadership clearly recognizes the industry is changing as vendors, large and small, create new ways for consumers to act “autonomously.”  That doesn’t mean that traditional brokerages like yours need to change, it does mean innovators — including Amazon and Facebook — are developing new tools for resourceful, tech-savvy buyers, sellers, homeowners and landlords to save money.  We want to offer those change makers — as well as virtual brokerage ALREADY in the market like Redfin —  a state of the art location where they can meet clients or CoWork on subscription or on demand basis.  It’s a compelling opportunity for #REStartUps to test their ideas and gain visibility — at the street level — in a Top 10 market!

The space would be Realtor-friendly, but not Realtor-centric; and RETech partners are invited to demo their products and services to listing agents, buyer agents as well as DIY consumers.  Like your list of what’s broken and needs to change, my hope is that you, as a recognized industry leader, will applaud if not participate in the some of the programming we envision and invite others to cosponsor.

Change is inevitable and multiple stakeholders — including traditional players — are invited to collaborate:  what will the real estate ecosystem look like in the year 2020? Let’s cocreate it via #RE2020:

Posted in Blockchain, Change Agents, Commission Reform, Consumer protection, Crowdfunding, Crowdsourcing, Disrupt Real Estate, RE2020, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates

“Consumer, Protect Thyself” with #CustomerTech, Enrich Thyself too

As our flurry of recent blog posts below attests, Real estate is the Sleeping Giant of the Consumer Movement! We tried sharing those links with the National Association of Real Estate Editors before their recent annual convention (#NAREE17) but thus far no one has developed any story ideas.  Requests to meet about our list of 10 issues / real estate consumer complaints were also brushed off by @MassAGO & @Mass_Consumer: (share via social media)

In the #DysTrumpian Era of “Consumer, Protect Myself” is #CustomerTech capable of arming homebuyers and sellers with “First Party Terms?” This hard-hitting @CBCMarketplace expose about “real estate agents breaking the rules” points to the importance of that question, and the “Pledge of Allegiance” — a set of terms designed to protect homebuyers — released on Flag Day, June 14:

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Recent blog posts, most sent to #NAREE17

In #DysTrumpian era of “Consumer Protect Thyself,” powerful DIY tool for Homebuyers (share via social media)

Will Wall Street cause Consumer Advocates to revisit Real Estate Cartel? (share via social media)

Open Letter to National Association of Real Estate Editors #NAREE17 (share via social media)

From #FakeBuyerAgents to Smart Disclosures & Information Fiduciaries (share via social media)

Castle Doctrine: Protecting real estate consumers in DysTrumpian era (share via social media)

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Steve Brobeck, the Executive Director of CFA first called real estate a cartel in 1991, and MassPIRG’s Executive Director Janet Domenitz was reelected President of CFA.  We’ve requested a meeting with @MassPIRG to background their team and get the Sleeping Giant of the Consumer Movement back on the Consumer Federation of America / @ConsumerFed’s radar screen if not the front page of the Boston Globe through their new consumer column, written by an investigative journalist with a law degree!

At Harvard

As an alum, have had divided feelings about blowing the whistle on Harvard’s involvement, but prepared a comprehensive critique of their homebuying class four years ago and more recently asked the state to take disciplinary action against Coldwell Banker for this blatant mispresentation:

In Boston

The National Association of Realtors is coming to Boston for their annual in November 2018, and / #RE2020 hopes to organize quarterly events, including unconferences or hacks, before that date. As Bloomberg reported, Real Estate is Ripe for Disruption and Boston / Cambridge can become a lab for that challenge: (share via social media) (share via social media)

Dream Scenario

This Fall marks the 25th Anniversary of Ralph Nader’s first speech on the real estate cartel, and consumers — primarily in Canada at this point — are using the hashtag #RECartel to express their anger at the industry. Can we use that anger (and maybe get Nader involved) to turbocharge new #CustomerTech tools to deliver BILLIONS in savings in real estate? That’s the goal of #RE2020, hence our desire to cohost a #Hack4REGood during @HUBweek.

This evening I can demo TransitionBank, an IntentCasting concept a four person team produced at Hacking for Good event at Harvard’s @InnovationLab ten days ago. What else should we talk about?

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VOTE (share via social media)

Posted in Blockchain, Buyer agent, Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Disrupt Real Estate, Dual Agency Detective, HousingID, IntentCasting, Investigative Reporting, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates, VRM

Use #WorldRefugeeDay to seed #Hack4REGood / #InnovationMinistry?


Wish I had known about the Vatican’s new StartUp accelerator a month ago when the call was still open for entries to their first group of ideas / companies. (share via social media)

Have shared the link above with High School classmates because one of SLUH’s own — Greg Burke — is at the Vatican acting as the Pope’s spokesman. Like Jesuits students and alumni everywhere, we were all groomed to be “Men for Others.” As we approach our 45th reunion in 2018, can our collective wisdom still tap into #DivineSynergy to “save the world?”

If our class created an Ideas Competition at SLUH, what would you want Greg Burke to tell the Pope, or ask the Vatican’s partners in Silicon Valley to fund?

Or is it wrong to wait for their next funding cycle or even depend on them? Real estate is a wealth engine across the world but luxury real estate is also a favorite place to launder money. Should we use #WorldRefugeeDay to crowdfund a way for #RETech to transform money laundering into refugee relief? A stunning 30% of luxury transactions in six cities in the US involve suspicious transactions: (share via social media)

If friends and family are willing to crowdfund attendance at the Economy of Communion meeting this weekend, I’ll try to seed that idea. See first seed planted with the nun who inspired the movie, Dead Man Walking:

IMG_2099 (share via social media)

What could we accomplish if we seeded #Hack4REGood events and #InnovationMinistry MeetUps across the country, if not the world? (share via social media)

Posted in #SpeculatorsWithoutBorders, ASAP: AIDS Shelter Alliance Partners, Change Agents, Crowdfunding, Impact Rebates, Luxury housing, Pope's Encyclical, RE2020, Real estate philanthropy

In #DysTrumpian era of “Consumer Protect Thyself,” powerful DIY tool for Homebuyers


In #DysTrumpian era of “Consumer Protect Thyself,” will real estate innovators step into the gap to help consumers make informed decisions? This campaign was launched today, #FlagDay and the first day of #NAREE17, to give homebuyers a powerful DIY tool: a compelling Pledge Of Allegiance they expect from their buyer agents. It’s designed to prevent conflicts of interest which means zero tolerance for dual or designated agency.

Credit where credit is due: Maureen Glasheen, then attorney at the NY Dept of State, created the original Pledge of Allegiance approximately 25 years ago; and Doug Miller, founder of updated the text several years ago. Frances Flynn Thorsen created the video magic this morning!

Sharing links here so others use:

(1) Watch video (share via social media)

(2) Print form (share via social media)

Finally, the blog post below explains why the newly revised agency disclosure form in Massachusetts is already obsolete and points to the future of #RegTech & #RETech:

From #FakeBuyerAgents to Smart Disclosures & Information Fiduciaries (share via social media)

Posted in Buyer agent, Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Designated Agency, DIY Homebuyers, Dual Agency Detective, Dump Dual Agency, RE2020, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance

From #FakeBuyerAgents to Smart Disclosures & Information Fiduciaries

IMG_1705The official minutes are now online but they reveal little about the process or substance of the revised Agency Disclosure form in Massachusetts. As cited in complaints to the Attorney General’s Office and repeated follow-up with the Mass Office of Consumer Affairs (see excerpt and image above), the mandatory form was updated by a group of industry insiders who met at the Mass. Association of Realtors.  Here’s our recap of the board meeting nearly five months ago and our vision for an “Agency Revival.”


Asked if the RE Board had received comments from the Mass. Association of Buyer Agents (MABA) and the attorney Charles Kilb, said no. Said dozens of peers at MABA had collaborated during 1992 – 1993 to shape the original disclosure, and since they could not be here because of the weather wanted to address MABA’s two main concerns:

MABA Talking Points

1. MABA called for a formal, public comment period including a public hearing, so licensees, consumer advocates, as well as buyers and sellers could comment.

There was no response from the RE Board.

2. Graphically the choice of Designated Agency versus Non-Designated Agency now appears to be the focal point of the disclosure and is misleading.  By framing the undivided loyalty of real buyer agency as a negative (non-Designated Agency), the obvious conflict of interest in the cartoon below now appears to be highest good.  Beyond user design, added that lawyers in the buyer agency community believe designated agency is act of fraud because only Agency + Loyalty = Fiduciary.

Opposing Teams

Critique as real estate consumer advocate

Moving from MABA’s talking points to my own, showed exhibitor brochures from real estate tech conferences last week in NYC to make the point that real estate vendors collect so much personal data about buyers and sellers that we can no longer wait until the first point of contact OFFLINE to discuss fiduciary duties. In fact, law schools at both Harvard and Yale are already talking about the role of #InformationFiduciary

See (share via social media)

For that reason, the revised agency disclosure form is already obsolete because disclosure needs to be made at first point of digital interaction.

Use new graphic tools, if not AI, to create next generation agency disclosure

When I tried to argue that Designated Agency had become the new anchor point for the disclosure, working group chair Peter Ruffini noted that Designated Agency did not exist in 1992 and 1993 when the original agency disclosure process created a consensus document.  Since it’s controversial “passage”  in 2005, designated agency has become the default setting for mega-brokers.

To make the existing form easier for the public to understand, recommended using explainer videos (see one created later by MABA’s President Ronald Huth) and infographics online or on the back of the agency disclosure. To my surprise, Kimberly Allard-Moccia, an industry member of the RE Board, leaned into that comment and smiled approvingly!

After acknowledging that the committee had been asked to update the form based on the existing law, pointed to the Board to the future. Informed them that the National Association of Realtors will host their annual convention in Boston in November 2018 for the first time ever and we have the opportunity to engage the industry in the process, not just updating an old form, but creating an next generation agency disclosure.

Said Massachusetts was rightly proud of the document we created in 1993 and we can once again create a disclosure process which establishes best practices. Said it’s conceivable that chat bots, using artificial intelligence, could administer an online disclosure that results in a consumer who has truly given informed consent because they’ve been led through an interactive conversation that reveals the implications of agency choices.

Chair Kevin Sears received the comments well, thanked me for insights and suggested that I work with attorney Justin Davidson from MAR to move the conversation into the future.


Sears asked the board attorney to comment on the past 10 minutes, and he said that the agency disclosure’s task had been to work within the existing context set by statute. “From my perspective as a lawyer, you did what you could; followed all of the steps.” Kilb said, “What I’m hearing here is what you might want to do in the future.”

That caused Sears to call for a motion on the revised draft of the form: “All in fair, say, I. All opposed say, no.”  The form was passed without any opposing votes.

Sears closed by thanking me for my comments and suggested I follow-up directly with attorneys Mike McDonough and Justin Davidson of MAR to explore the ideas I presented.


Pointing to new AI technology that has the possibility to automate parts of the transaction, suggested to the committee that agency duties will become more important in the future.

“If agents don’t want to be displaced by technology, they need to offer fiduciary level services. That could result in an “Agency Revival” and the disclosure needs to reflect the importance of loyalty — real fiduciary duties — not a conflict of interest that’s been papered over or agency fraud.”

Once again, board member Kimberly Allard-Moccia’s body language was that she was intrigued by the idea.

Posted in Buyer agent, Consumer protection, Designated Agency, Dual Agency Detective, Dump Dual Agency, Investigative Reporting, RE2020, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Tech Trends

Open Letter to National Association of Real Estate Editors #NAREE17


Open Letter to #NAREE17

Greetings, members of the National Association of Real Estate Editors

As a longtime real estate consumer advocate and industry critic, look forward to your live tweets and event coverage during and after #NAREE17 this week in Denver. For those editors who invite story ideas, hope the image above or issues in the link below get your attention (or even attract interest from investigative journalists outside real estate): (share via social media)

At a minimum, invite #NAREE members, real estate regulators and others to compare CRE’s list of leading issues to those held by consumer advocates. Regrettably, real estate continues to be the “Sleeping Giant of Consumer Movement,” but after a decade of being off the radar screen, maybe that’s about to change:

Will Wall St cause ConsumerAdvocates to revisit #RealEstate Cartel? (share via social media)

If you are not interested in the story ideas but know anyone — including journalism students — who might be, please forward this Open Letter as well as contact information.  Glad to make referrals to subject experts including attorneys and at least one former regulator who can provide their perspectives on a range of issues including the mispresentation documented above.

Bill Wendel
Sent from my iPad: 617-661-4046

Posted in Buyer agent, Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Designated Agency, Dual Agency Detective, Dump Dual Agency, Investigative Reporting, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Unbundling the Commission

Will Wall Street cause Consumer Advocates to revisit Real Estate Cartel?


An article by Inman News, a leading real estate technology news site, has traditional real estate agents buzzing about a potential threat.  More revealing than the headline, Welcome to Wall Street’s housing market, is the subhead:

Investors will eat agent commissions and begin to control housing stock

As a longtime real estate consumer advocate, my fear of Zillow Instant Offer mirrors that of Barry Zigas, director of housing for Consumer Federation of America:  large institutional investors or iBuyers have the potential to “box out first-time homebuyers in some markets by purchasing with cash and removing inventory from the market.” Not just any inventory, but AFFORDABLE inventory which means they’re making it harder for ordinary homebuyers.

Zillow’s new entry is arguably a response to two other well-funded iBuyer models:  OpenDoor and OfferPad.   To date, their combined impact on the market is insignificant and their fees are outrageous — 9-12% on top of purchase prices according to 1000Watt.  Given that, is it credible to fear that a 3% market share in test markets will morph into market domination when the post real estate recession buying spree by institutional investors only resulted in 1 to 2% ownership of single-family homes?

Why fear a POTENTIAL threat from iBuyers when EXISTING non-end use buyer’s, including:

1. Small local flippers,

2. AirBnB investors;

3. Foreign buyers (aka #SpeculatorsWithoutBorders), and

4. Crowdfunding pools

accounted for 37% of sales in 2016 from according to Mark Hanson? Curiously, that’s the same percentage of condo buyers in Boston who paid CASH during April 2014.  If cash buyers and existing investors are already putting artificial upward pressure on housing prices, why no industry outrage?  If there’s already a huge problem, why not explore ways, as Inman News writes, that Wall Street involvement can “improve housing affordability?”

Not a single county in the US has enough affordable housing. If Wall Street funded innovations, like shared equity, can help change that in a way that is responsible and promotes purchases by first-time homebuyer without contributing to overheated markets, affordable housing advocates will celebrate their solutions. However, if they are simply adding to or extending speculative pressure, time to ramp up regulatory reform rather than retreating?

When it comes to regulatory reform, few organizations can mobilize coalitions like the Consumer Federation of America (CFA); and after laying low for a decade, glad they’re talking about real estate.  If the Wall St threat is really about protecting existing commissions, incumbents should know that CFA first called the real estate industry an “informal cartel” more than 25 years ago.  They underlined that position in their last white paper on real estate, which will have it’s 11th anniversary next week, June 19, 2006.  That was near the peak of the last real estate cycle, is history poised to repeat itself? (share via social media)

Call to action

We can’t predict the answer to that question but we can debate it at local offline events we call #BubbleHour or #REonTap.  We can also give homebuyers a choice of fees and rebates, as well as reactive house hunting or proactive.  As our Inman Innovator designation attests, we’ve got a long history of trying to reform the real estate industry, including an event that featured Ralph Nader and the Consumer Federation of America in 1993.  We invite change agents from Wall Street to Main Street to follow / share / join #RE2020 to deliver billions in Consumer savings by the year 2020. (share via social media)

Posted in #REonTap, #SpeculatorsWithoutBorders, Bubble Hour, Commission Reform, Consumer protection, Disrupt Real Estate, Housing bubble, RE2020, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Unbundling the Commission

Open Letter to Homebuyers / Disruptive Real Estate Innovators


Open Letter to Next Generation of Homebuyers / Disruptive Real Estate Innovators

From my perspective as a real estate consumer advocate, National Homeownership Month has begun with a step backwards but the stage is set for a giant leap forward.  First, by increasing the debt to income ration to 50%, homebuyers can MAGICALLY buy 22% more house on same income with less down.  Hopefully, that irresponsible move — which critics say is a sign the housing market has peake, will be offset by a headline in Bloomberg News that underlines our 20+ year mission:

The Housing Market Is Ripe for Tech Disruption

The process of buying and selling a home in the U.S. is needlessly inefficient. That will inevitably change. (share via social media)

There are more than a dozen academic departments and student groups in Greater Boston spanning real estate, architecture or city planning but I’m not aware of any collaborative effort. That’s where #RE2020 has an opportunity to create synergy and deliver billions in consumer savings annually that will help your Millennial peers as much as baby boomers.

RE2020’s goal is to invite new players to cocreate a new real estate ecosystem industry and build an adhoc coalition of innovators to serve a consumer movement. That means developing new tools, leveraging emerging technologies, and monetizing business models. By collaborating, real estate innovators can build on 25 years of calls for reform and startups that failed to reach their goals. That’s why already contains a section on SmartFailing which elaborates on this blog post: (share via social media)

Call to Action

Last night, a team of leaders from both the City of Boston and State of Massachusetts hosted their last of 10 regional listening sessions with small business about issues and opportunities. Three of the five breakout groups mentioned the high cost of real estate — both for businesses and consumers; and the potential drag on the state’s economy specifically its ability to attract or retain talent. The visibility of real estate issues was surprising because the listening tour was about small businesses. I nearly cheered when summary comments included a call for a real estate town hall, hence my use of #RETownHall in this tweet. (share via social media)


In private conversation, leaders in the Boston tech community agree that innovation in residential real estate lags behind other sectors and expressed interest in learning more about #RE2020. This October marks the 25th aaniversary of Ralph Nader’s first speech on the real estate cartel; and ironically the Realtors’s CEO reportedly the same word recently to describe some in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) community who resist change. So the stage is set.

Idea Starters

Beyond individual dreams and aspirations, should we brainstorm a list of Summer / Coming Projects and develop them on #RE2020? Here’s a sample of idea starters:

1. Using Ralph Nader’s model to seed a citizen-initiated real estate town hall and call for a real estate consumer Bill of Rights, perhaps while Realtors are lobbying at the Statehouse on June 14, 2017. (share via social media)

2. Plan an event this Fall as part of @HUBweek or independently to assess progress since Nader’s address in 1992. Compare spreadsheet after two-day conference in 1993 to today: (share via social media)

3. Archive 25+ years of “Best of Breed” files and turn them into a timeline / walk-in exhibit “From MLS Books to Billions in Savings: Past, Present & Future of Innovation in Real Estate”

4. Host quarterly unconferences or hacks before NAR hosts their annual convention in Boston in November 2018. We can build on our first attempt a year ago: (share via social media)

What are your thoughts, ideas, dreams — or what would you do next if you knew it could not fail?  If reviewing three decades of past efforts would help inform your vision, we can meet periodically at the #REStartUp garage this summer and your peers can combine the learning adventure with visits the beach.


Delivering BILLIONS annually in consumer savings requires viable moneysaving #RealEstate business models.  Thankfully, there are three events this week to help innovators develop, sharpen or reposition their disruptive business models.  Let’s use the MeetUp tonight to launch a new subsection of #RE2020 that focuses on developing disruptive moneysaving business models.

Business Model Generation MeetUp

Value Proposition Design Workshop: Who is your ideal customer?  (share via social media)

Posted in Commission Reform, Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Discount real estate, Disrupt Real Estate, Idea Bar, RE2020, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates
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