To my surprise, one of real estate’s thought leaders posted photos on Facebook today from an event 25 years ago in Boston we hosted called the Consumer Revolution in Real Estate. Last November, the National Association of Realtors hosted their 1st national convention in Boston, literally just down street from our event in 1993. If you scan the agenda below, you’ll see that the first two sessions were the Growth of Buyer Brokerage and The Dual Agency Debate:
http://bit.ly/ConsREv_Agenda1993 (share link via social media)
From my colleague’s perspective, the controversy surrounding those two hot button issues can be filed under “Some things never change.” But to consumer advocates like #RealEstateCafe and the buyer brokerage community, a new report by the Consumer Federation of America called The Agency Mess presents an opportunity to ask one simple question of our peers and the public:
What is the highest form of agency?
Has that changed over time, or is it one of those things that never change?
Implications for industry & consumers
Next week, thousands of leading real estate agents and RETech innovators will participate in a week-long real estate technology conference in NYC. If you scan the topics on just one day, Tuesday, 1/29/19, you’ll see that one’s perspective on agency will shape what’s said and NOT said on multiple panels:
- Top Teams Divulge Their Most Closely Held Secrets
- The 6 Legal Pitfalls That Can Do You In
- What The Brokers Will They Could Tell Agents
When discussing hot button issues, the content and tone has sometimes been adversarial in the past but multiple stakeholders can dialogue about fiduciary duties in real estate with civility. One way is to focus on the good:
- How can we make it easier for real estate agents to be good and do good?
- How can we create, or better cocreate, systems that produce good outcomes?
- Can we still reach a consensus about what is good and how goods should be distributed?
We could engage those questions at multiple levels from the metaphysical to legal, but rather than talking until we’re blue in the face like the agency disclosure cartoon above or trying to unsnarl the Agency Mess — the title of CFA’s latest report, our initial goal is simply to reach concensus from consumer’s perspective, both homebuyer or seller, about the baseline: What is highest form of agency? Then we can go on to other agency options and bigger questions.
Highest form of agency for taxpayers?
As a real estate consumer advocate, would argue that questions about what is the highest form of agency also extend to taxpayers; because collectively, we guarantee 9 of 10 residential mortgages. That underlines the importance of reaching a consensus about what is good and what serves the common good as well as individual homebuyers and sellers.