“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.