WANTED: Apps to convert real estate rip-off into consumer savings

Insert FSBO Gothic

After the Arab Spring last year, some pundits predicted 2012 would be the “Year of Consumer Activism.” But 80 degree February days triggered Spring Fever early in the real estate market, instead of consumer rebellion.

After the Arab Spring last year, some pundits predicted 2012 would be the “Year of Consumer Activism.” But 80 degree February days triggered Spring Fever early in the real estate market, instead of consumer rebellion.  That may be changing.  In the past 24 hours, The Economist & Financial Times have hit the real estate industry with a one-two punch the same week 10,000+ Realtors marched on Washington.

BRAVO! @TheEconomist slams #realestate fees econ.st/JgklXR Then @FinancialTimes pumps #FSBO #savings on.ft.com/Jmz2xM #DIY #Boston

— Bill Wendel (@RealEstateCafe) May 19, 2012

With one in three households underwater, repositioning Dealtors as “Architects of the American Dream” is a hard sell — particularly when surveys show consumers believe that real estate agents are overpaid.  More important, millions of equity-starved homeowners simply cannot afford to pay the prevailing real estate commission (watch short video).

Into that pain comes a headline from The Economist which could become a rallying cry:

The great realtor rip-off

Why is it so expensive to buy or sell a house in America?

As housing inventories rise is the stage set for bidding war backlash?  Every year, thousands of unsold properties come off the market after the 4th of July.  After buyers willing to pay “tens of thousands of dollars over asking price” fail to materialize, will disappointed homeowners drop their real estate agent and try selling “for sale by owner”?

Beyond that semi-annual flood of expired and canceled listings is an overdue systemic change that could result in billions of dollars annually in savings.  What would it take to use this pregnant moment to mobilize a new generation of tech-savvy, DIY home buyers and sellers eager to save money on real estate transactions?

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of “The Consumer Revolution in Real Estate,” a two-day conference hosted in Boston with 50 panelists including Ralph Nader and Steve Brobeck, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of America.  We’re still driven to redesign the real estate industry, and are eager to collaborate with others, inside and outside the industry, to develop disruptive business models and apps capable of delivering billions of dollars in savings annually.

At a minimum, we’d like to begin hosting educational events for FSBOs, including FSBO Field Trips; and create a “Defensive Homebuying” course for DIY home buyers, too.

If you’re a real estate innovator in Boston or a disgruntled DIY homebuyer or seller, can we invite you to watch our 80 second video introduction to the Real Estate Cafe?  If you like our mission, we’d like to share some of our money-savings ideas and initiatives and invite your dreams as well.  We’re available to (1) TweetUp this weekend and Monday, (2) host a roundtable offline on Tuesday, or (3) “hangout” on Google+ at a mutually convenient time. Text of call 617-661-4046 to let us know what works for you.

If you’d like to save money by selling “for sale by owner,” please preview our slideshow below and add our upcoming seminars & fieldtrips to your watchlist.

Get buff with FSBOs on Steriods!

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