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Will Pope’s encyclical expand Housing Justice Movement?


Homeownership rates are falling in Massachusetts and across the nation, and housing is back in newspaper headlines and nationally syndicated talk shows.  Here’s one perspective, that knowingly or unknowingly, points to the Pope’s encyclical on the environment and the prospect of a grassroots movement for housing justice:

Greedy spec builders want the most bang for their buck so the put oversized houses on undersized lots and then cannot sell them. A more modest house would have moved. There are only so many Mr. and Mrs. One Per Cents.

There are only so many 1%’ers if there is no external demand / pressure on local housing markets from global real estate investors. An annual update just released by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies lists rising home prices as one of the culprits for the homeownership decline, but the words “investor” and “speculators” do not appear in the Boston Globe’s coverage of the document. Contrast that coverage in the New Yorker and inventory snapshots from the former People’s Republic of Cambridge and it’s neighbor, DelusionVille (formerly Somerville):

Cambridge MLS inventory snapshot 6/16/15:
26 listings last year priced $900K+, now 42 or 49% – up from 28% in one year – Unsustainable? #AffordableHousing

Somerville MLS inventory snapshot 6/23/15:
Active single-family listings in Somerville have DOUBLED compared to 2014, 7 of 9 price over $800K remain unsold

Excerpt from New Yorker article, Real Estate Goes Global:
“The challenge for Vancouver and cities like it is that foreign investment isn’t an unalloyed good. It’s great for existing homeowners, who see the value of their homes rise, and for the city’s tax revenues. But it also makes owning a home IMPOSSIBLE (emphasis added) for much of the city’s population.”

Would be homeowners who have been priced out of the market should pay attention to what’s happening in other cites where ordinary citizens are beginning to push back against real estate speculators: SF, Toronto, and Vancouver are setting the pace, see images from #DontHave1Million campaign:

Writing in Boston, one angry reader blurted out, “Since when is home ownership a right?”  His question is a good one, one that has not escaped the Pope’s new encyclical on the environment and the Catholic teaching on the social mortgage, the debt we owe each other as members a just society:

94. The rich and the poor have equal dignity, for “the Lord is the maker of them all” (Prov 22:2). …This has practical consequences, such as those pointed out by the bishops of Paraguay: “Every campesino (definition = peasant farmer) has a natural right to possess a reasonable allotment of land where he can establish his home, work for subsistence of his family and a secure life. This right must be guaranteed so that its exercise is not illusory but real. That means that apart from the ownership of property, rural people must have access to means of technical education, credit, insurance, and markets”.

Contrast that ideal to the reality of what’s happening in housing markets across the country, homeownership is down to the lowest levels in two decades, and “Every Single County in America Is Facing an Affordable Housing Crisis.”

With 4 out of 5 New Big City Rental Buildings targeting the rich, is it any wonder that just yesterday, a Huffington Post article asked, Is It Time for a Housing Justice Movement?

EXCERT: So the question arises, can the housing justice movement that is taking off in Seattle spread across the nation?

My hope is that the Pope’s encyclical will help expedite that movement and lead to a tangible reordering of priorities and policies to address the gross inequities in too many housing markets in the US and around the globe:

93. Whether believers or not, we are agreed today that the earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone. …“the Church does indeed defend the legitimate right to private property, but she also teaches no less clearly that there is always a SOCIAL MORTGAGE (emphasis added) on all private property, in order that goods may serve the general purpose that God gave them”. Consequently, he maintained, “it is not in accord with God’s plan that this gift be used in such a way that its benefits favour only a few”.

95. The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all.

Full encyclical text:

Posted in Affordable housing, Bubble Hour, Great Senior Sell-Off, Housing bubble, Housing Justice, iCovery, Luxury housing, Pope's Encyclical, Price trends, Real Estate Bubble

Mega-Broker Portal: Will homebuyers be left Upstream without a buyer agent?


Anyone else trying to make sense of the controversy surrounding Upstream, the code name for the mega-Broker Public Portal? Yesterday, Inman News published a guest opinion asking:  “Will Upstream be good for everyone?”  Not only was this author’s answer NO, but his prediction appeared as the subhead to the story:  “This seems like nothing more than another round of NAR vs. the DOJ.”  Other Inman readers, including the comment in the image above, added more reasons why. (share this URL if you’re an Inman subscriber)

Buyer agents:  blind spot or irrelevant?

Surprisingly, the only reference to buyer agent or buyer agency is a disparaging remark in one of the comments.  Should that be expected in a controversy about listing data, or does it reflect a blindness to agency duties and the fading role / relevance of buyer agents?  Blanket statements like these excerpts used to be fighting words — where’s the outrage?

“Your Listing, Your Lead” should be our mantra

“The broker, and only the broker will be in control of where it’s data goes.”

Maybe it’s premature to expect a comprehensive critique, and consumer advocates and tech innovators will eventually respond to Brad Inman’s assessment:

Finally, after a year of meeting in private, the Upstream founders are out of the closet. Now, their actions and motives can be openly discussed and debated.  And knowing what they are up to, pressure can be put on them to do the right thing.

What is the right thing to protect the public interest — particularly in an era of open data where emerging tools allow consumers to control access to their data? Yesterday’s fight was about who controls listing data, but a more important question is on the horizon — who owns and controls the data flowing from billions of sensors as SmartHomes and the Internet of Things become building blocks in a new real estate ecosystem?

Tracking the controversy

What is the best site / social media channel to follow to try to get a better / (and hopefully accurate) understanding of Upstream?  Has anyone created an infographic showing what problem / who’s problem Upstream is trying to solve?  Finally, what intended or unintended impacts will Upstream have on consumers — particularly homebuyers and the buyer agents they hire to represent them?

Future proofing versus emerging trends

What impact will Upstream have in the short-term, mid and long term, when:

  1. In 2020, the Great Senior Sell-Off will cause a glut of listings and pocket listings and low inventory are replaced by expired / canceled listings and auctions?
  2. Or in 2025, when the trillion sensor economy will have a disruptive impact on multiple industries, including health care and real estate?

If “my listing, my lead” is the mantra, where is the homebuyer’s right to their own advocate in this Realtor family fight?  Conversely, where is the homeowners’s right to make an informed decision about how to maximize exposure for their listing?  Will games Upstream unintentionally trigger new regulations to protect consumers?

Wonder if the DOJ, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or Senator Elizabeth Warren’s staff are listening?

Flashback: Real Estate Cartel revisited?

September marks the 10th anniversary of this FTC & DOJ workshop on competition in real estate. Writing then, Blanche Evans of RealtyTimes said the industry was unfairly persecuted because the government agencies and the speakers they selected to testify did not understand “fundamentals of the real estate industry — namely that the broker owns the listing.”

Do the proponents of Upstream and commentators understand or care about agency law?


​Unless my browser search is not working properly, NONE of the Inman stories below includes a single reference to buyer agent or buyer agency in the text or comments. Nor does the RISMEDIA story that Upstream defenders reference:

Project Upstream Revealed (share this URL)

What should RECALL — Real Estate Consumer Alliance — do to address that blind spot?  Or am I the one who’s blind, what are fellow real estate consumer advocates and buyer agents already saying?


UPDATE:  A comment on another Inman News story published May 16, 2015 made this observation:  “MLS is no longer the only market! Listing agents post properties without putting them on the MLS saving their seller the buyer agent commission, or pocketing it themselves.” Here’s a link to story on Upstream funding from NAR & the comment above:  (share this URL if you’re an Inman subscriber)

Posted in Buyer agent, Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Disrupt Real Estate, Great Senior Sell-Off, IoT: Internet of Things, Pocket Listings, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, reVRM, Uncategorized

Uber-fication of Real Estate? Fee-for-service consultants available on-demand (for past 20 years!)


Very pleased that NPR’s nationally syndicated talkshow @OnPointRadio aired a program today about the on-demand economy:

Uber, But For Everything

We look at the “Uber-fication” of the marketplace.  On-demand services for almost anything, everything, are catching on. Changing our economy and our lives. (share this URL)

One caller pointed to changes in the legal industry, and it will be interesting to see what the new book The Great Disruption (Google Books) says about potential impacts on the residential real estate brokerage industry.  Some industry critics and the Realtors’ chief economist predicted made this bold prediction 20 years ago:

“The next major revolution in real estate will be fee-based services replacing the blanket commission pricing that has dominated the industry for so long.”

Why have pioneers like the Real Estate Cafe failed to gain marketshare over the past 20 years?  Any new alternative money-saving real estate business models hope to change that?  Want to talk about where the industry might be by the year, 2020 (#RE2020)? Let’s start by deconstructing the Realtors new Danger Report: (share this URL)

Apparently, Realtors are taking the on-demand threat more seriously, and as the screenshot above shows they are concerned about the potential Uberization of the industry.  Beyond that their DANGER Report, issued three weeks ago at their midyear conference in Washington, DC, identified 50 potential threats to the existing real estate business model. Here are 10 dangers facing real estate agents: (share this URL)

Danger or blessing in disguise?

Should real estate professionals and policy makers be concerned about safety net issues? Right now, nearly all real estate agents are commission-based independent contractors who may go months without a paycheck; so unlikely other industries, “The Great Disruption” may offer potential benefits to industry professionals as well as cost savings to real estate consumers.

Want to discuss where the real estate industry will be in the year 2020? Follow, use #RE2020 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. And let’s compare how this conversation has changed over the past five years:

Will real estate agents become obsolete or morph into fee-for-service real estate consultants? (share this URL)

Posted in Commission Reform, Discount real estate, Fee-for-service, RE2020, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, Real-time real etate, reVRM, Savings & Rebates, Tech Trends, Unbundling the Commission

#MicroHousingLab 4/17-26: Are “Spinsters” leading the DIY co-living movement?


Commenting on WBUR / OnPointRadio program today on Spinsters:  At some point researchers say aging boomers, presumably both sexes, give up on finding a soulmate and look for / co-create a micro-tribe of their own. That may explain why woman are taking the lead rediscovering the joys and health benefits of group living. In fact, the Boston Globe says:

“Already, 4 million 50-plus women live in US households with at least two other women of similar age.”

These are not 60’s style free-love communes in remote places, but sometimes trophy homes in chic neighborhoods in San Francisco or DIY micro-cohousing communities.

So, agree with the caller who said why use such an old fashioned loaded word like “Spinster,” when some of the most active seniors are the ones pioneering new housing types?

Here are some more links to learn more:

Boomer Housemates have more fun

10 trends pointing to Group Housing, Intentional Communities too?

Got Golden Girl envy or curiosity?  Explore / share your own visions of living together alone / living alone together at #MicroHousingLab 4/17-26:

Posted in Affordable housing, Co-Living, Creative class, Crowdfunding, Crowdsourcing, Downsizing, Group buying, Group housing, Intentional Communities

Inequality hits home! Is housing affordability key to livability?


CARPE DIEM:  Two big events today!​

Inequality hits home!  Let’s use the release of AARP’s Livability Index today and Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s talk tonight in Harvard Square to discuss how America became the most unequal advanced country in the world and what we can do about it.

The Great Divide:  Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them

The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future

Order tickets here before $5 dollar tickets for Stiglitz talk sells out!


Let’s use the Livability Indexes for two very different communities Chelsea & Cambridge to talk about what makes a place livable… How would you customize the sliders on AARP’s new site ( to find someplace you can afford and like to call home?


Livabiity: Admiral’s Hill Lofts Chelsea, MA


Livability: Cambridge, MA 02138

​If you’d like to help shape the future of housing / explore tiny houses, micro-housing & coliving as possible solutions, share your ideas at the #MicroHousingLab 4/17-26

Any baby boomers interested in using #LivIndex to explore downsizing & relocation options?   Meet others tonight over a flight of beers at Cambridge Common after Stiglitz talk?

Posted in Affordable housing, Co-Living, Consumer protection, Crowdsourcing, DIY Homebuyers, Downsizing, Housing bubble, Relocating

Fooled again? Let’s use tech to reform real estate / BLIND biddings wars

After nearly two months on the road, this April Fool’s Day finds me playing the Who’s classic to psyche myself up:

Won’t be fooled again! /

As aging baby boomers know, the lyrics are a mix of contradictions – “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”  Is there an unwritten, timeless truth — the more things change, the more they stay the same?  Or are we really at an inflection point, where there is new hope for new laws, new consumer-centric “revolutions”?

New technology? (Learn about The Intention Economy, video from WSJ)

If you are a Christian or Jewish, this is a week to follow the Who’s instructions:  “get on your knees and pray” for deliverance, renewal, and liberation!  And as Holy Week unfolds and Passover approaches, the tech calendar in Boston offers a hopeful answer to “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

​Ironically, on April Fool’s Day!​

First, at 4:00pm today, the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government hosts a conversation with the Chief Information Officer of the City of Boston entitled, Citizenville: Government as a Platform.

Then at 5:30pm, Microsoft & the Venture Cafe hosts an interactive conversation on Civic Innovations for Neighborhoods at District Hall: (share if you’d like to TweetUp this evening)

Beyond that talk, is there hope we may witness another “British Invasion?”  Will a new Consumer Rights Act in the UK raise the bar and inspire new consumer protections in the US, specifically a Real Estate Consumer Bill of Digital Rights in the US.

As the Boston Globe writes yet another front page story on BLIND bidding wars, hope the call to reform the real estate industry echoes on both sides of the pond.  Please share these links so millions of homebuyers — particularly millennials and seniors — won’t be fooled again!  Please share these:

Victims or fools, time for Emergency Bidding War Transparency Act

Will Bidding Wars trigger local regulation or global reformation?

If it’s too late to join either of the events today in Boston, mark April 13th.  Author Malcolm Gladwell will be speaking in Cambridge about his book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.  Let’s see what we can learn from that past 22 years, and make another pass at waking the sleeping giant of the consumer movement.

April 2 & 3rd marks the 22nd anniversary of the Consumer Revolution in Real Estate, a two-day event in Boston featuring Ralph Nader, Steve Brobeck of the Consumer Federation of America, and real estate consumer advocates from around the country.  Should we cohost an unconference or hackathon with app developers to disrupt real estate / co-create an open ecosystem capable of delivering billions in consumer savings annually?

Posted in Bidding wars, Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Disrupt Real Estate, IntentCasting, RE2020, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, reVRM, Unconference

Conflicts of interest beg for Real Estate Consumer Bill of DIGITAL Rights


Seventy-two hours apart, a leading real estate technology news site begins by reminding real estate professionals of their fiduciary duties (Agency = Expertise + UNDIVIDED Loyalty), then another article advises would-be listing agents to farm for sellers with a “Join my buyers waiting list” hook.

Will this “help you get more sellers for that particular neighborhood,” or increase awareness of the heighten threat of conflicts of interest in real estate?

Last week, one of the panels at the Consumer Federation of America’s annual conference was entitled, The Digital Revolution and Personal Information: Consumer Benefits and Concerns.  In fact, one of the panelists, Frank Torres called for a Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights in Congress nearly 15 years ago when he was with Consumer’s Union.  As you can see from the link below, the call to protect real estate consumers has a long history and a coalition of consumer advocates around the country — still real estate is the sleeping giant of the consumer movement: (please share tiny link via social media)

As the release of the Apple’s iWatch brings wearable apps into the mainstream, questions about privacy — who owns data, who can access or share it, and how it can be used with or without my permission — should renew calls for Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, DIGITAL rights.

With Big Data Comes Big Responsibility, that’s what MIT’s Sandy Pentland told Harvard Business Review the Harvard Business Review last Fall, and IMHO his call for a “New Deal” on data should be extended to a New Deal on Real Estate data — particularly personal data. (please share tiny link via social media)

Real estate commissions are so high, it’s not hard to imagine consumers saving billions of dollar annually by leveraging their personal data in the emerging open eco-system in real estate.  If you’d like to help co-create that money-saving ecosystem by the year 2020, or benefit from it as a DIY homebuyer or seller, please follow #RE2020 online (or contact

As shown on the tweet above, we hope to collaborate with a powerful new coalition of consumer advocates (which includes AARP and the White House) to extend their call for fiduciary reforms from financial services into real estate.  For more information, visit or follow the hashtag #SaveOurRetirement .

Posted in Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Disrupt Real Estate, Dual Agency Detective, Investigative Reporting, RE2020, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance

CFPB & FTC protect options, empower real estate consumers to save money


What a week!  Inman News just caught the government doing it’s job, again!  As regulators from the CFPB are taking heat from bankers to take down their new site encouraging homebuyers to exercise their right to make informed choices, the FTC is putting the heat on the Zillow-Trulia merger because the sweetheart deals that Zillow has negotiated with giants in the industry have a detrimental impact on choices homebuyers may be able to make, too. Check out their deal with Realogy below:

Regulators may be weighing impact of Zillow-Trulia merger on small brokers

The article above is limited to subscribers, but sharing my comment here so consumers better understand the way public and private policy decisions ignore their needs, limit their choices, and deny their rights.

COMMENT: Thank goodness the FTC is raising these issues, but it’s more than just the price agents pay for ads.

1. First, giant real estate franchises and brands are not introducing money-saving alternatives for homebuyers and sellers, smaller start-ups and “SOLOpreneurs” are — particularly those of us offering fee-for-service real estate consulting models.

2. It’s been six months since SeekingAlpha republished Citron Research’s statement below. At that time, we were able to document via screen captures that no competing agent ads appeared on Coldwell Banker listings locally. Has anyone else noticed the same pattern in their market?

“Zillow/Trulia already have in place a rock bottom deal with Realogy, the largest real estate agency in the world, that prohibits ALL OTHER agencies from advertising on their listings … and for this they pay a fee 95% less than any other agency pays. Not only is this deal unsustainable in the industry, we’re not at all sure if it’s even legal from an anti-trust perspective.”

3. From the FTC’s perspective, that should raise issues about anti-competitiveness and rightly so. However, consumer advocates like CAARE might be equally concerned that Zillow’s preferential policies steer homebuyers into conflicts of interest without informed consent — a high legal bar that is rarely attempted in real estate, online or off!

Regardless of how the Z-T merger proceeds, hope the FTC investigation underscores the long overdue need for “Smart Disclosures” at the browser level to replace paper disclosures that real estate agents routinely ignore offline with impunity.

+ + +

If you’d like to be part of efforts to reform the real estate industry and empower consumers to save billions of dollars annually, please visit and follow #RE2020.

Posted in Consumer protection, Defensive Homebuying, Dual Agency Detective, Fee-for-service, Fee-for-service real estate, Investigative Reporting, RE2020, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates

Collaborating with housing & real estate labs to save BILLIONS annually!


Concept Drawing:  reVRM2020 Ecosystem

Concept Drawing: reVRM2020 Ecosystem. Open ecosystem in real estate will be informed by personal data and create unprecedented money-saving opportunities for DIY homebuyers and sellers. Concept drawing shows one of 22 idea starters included in reVRM-Minifesto.

This morning, NPR listeners in Boston were greeted with news of one of the largest gifts ever given to MIT — a $118 million gift to MIT’s Center for Real Estate (MITCRE) to “advance socially responsible and sustainable real estate development.” MITCRE calls the gift “transformative” because it addresses inter-disciplinary challenges and presents an opportunity for existing academic initiatives to co-create solutions.

For decades, MIT’s Department of Urban Studies & Planning (DUSP) has championed citizen participation, so hope this gift also seeds a ripple effect in local communities. Here are four idea starters that could begin immediately in Greater Boston and beyond:

1.  Headlines from the annual Consumer Electronic Show say a race has begun to control the data from SmartHomes:  Why not extend the buzz from SmartHomes to SmartNeighborhoods by seeding a network of local user groups through sites like

2.  When it comes to personal data, MIT’s Media Lab is a global thought leader.  Why not give academics there an opportunity to field test their work by using real estate as a use case? Pointing to Sandy Pentland’s article in the Harvard Business Review, this post extends his call for a New Deal on Data to a new deal on real estate data.

Invitation: Using Real Estate as use case for Personal Data (share

3.  Finally, when one in four homes sells for $100,000 over asking price, think it’s time for a Bidding War Lab? That’s what happened last June in Cambridge, MA, and price distortions in other cities caused the New Yorker to write about the negative impact global real estate is having on local markets — including making homeownership IMPOSSIBLE (emphasis added) for much of the city’s population..

Will Bidding Wars trigger local regulation or global reformation? (share

4. Finally, Boston’s new mayor Marty Walsh is fond of asking what will Boston look like in the year 2030.  Before too many of the proposed 53,000 new housing units break ground, why not ask what will the real estate ecosystem look like in 2020 and co-create ways to reduce housing transaction costs?

When a representative from Zillow was asked where the real estate industry would be in five years, he predicted a “completely open ecosystem.” As that happens, consumers — both buyers and sellers — will save billions of dollars annually as diagrammed in the concept drawing above. Those savings will dwarf the $118 million dollar gift MIT just received. Respecting the extraordinary generosity of MIT’s donor, perhaps a generation of DIY homebuyers and sellers should crowdfund their own innovation lab to work on the ideas above.

How realistic is that? Here’s some math that might surprise you. Last quarter (4Q2014), approximately 15,600 residential properties failed to sell across MA, so those MLS listings were canceled or expired. If those properties were sold “for sale by owner” (or FSBO), that would save nearly one quarter billion dollars or twice the gift to MIT. If sellers used new money-saving real estate business models to reduce commission by half, they would still save an estimated $127M.

With such a large payback in one state, during one quarter alone, why aren’t money-savings real estate business models attracting more attention in the media and marketplace? (link)

With Bloomberg Philanthropies $1.35M to fund Boston’s new Housing Innovation Lab over three years and Samuel Tak Lee donation of $118M to fund MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab, what would happen if a generation of DIY consumers, tech innovators, and real estate consumer advocates collaborated with those new labs to transform the real estate industry?

If you’d like to join or follow that conversation, using hashtag #RE2020 on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.  Glad to meet anytime on short-notice to address this question:

Reform or disrupt? Where will real estate be in 5 years? #RE2020 (share

And invite tech innovators and consumer advocates to meet during MIT’s IAP to discuss these game changing idea starters:

reVRM-Minifesto: 22 Game Changing Idea Starters (share

What’s your vision of the future of real estate?

Posted in Bidding wars, Commission Reform, Crowdfunding, Disrupt Real Estate, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, IntentCasting, RE2020, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, reVRM, VRM

Using calls to “disrupt real estate” to raise awareness of money-saving alternatives


Greetings, fellow real estate consumer advocates and DIY homebuyers and sellers (particularly those hoping to sell for-sale-by-owner ),

Have you seen the article this week in Entrepreneur Magazine:

Who Will Step Up and Disrupt the Real Estate Industry? (please share this URL via social media)

Like it’s predecessor below, published six months ago, it’s creating a lot of buzz outside the industry:

Could someone disrupt real estate, please? (please share this URL via social media)

Visiting the press links below, it’s encouraging to see how much momentum was generated a decade ago, but the absence in recent years leaves one might wondering if the press went easy on the industry during the real estate recession:  (please share this URL via social media)

Harnessing the winds of change

Thankfully, the winds of change are blowing again, and calls for change are coming from inside and outside the industry. For example, the recent REBarCamp in Boston generated a Facebook group called Real Estate is Broken. Compare this hard-hitting, insider’s expose of 25 ways real estate is broken to softball questions directed at talking heads during industry conventions, or not addressed at all: (please share this URL via social media)

There was a time when consumer advocates and technology innovators intent on changing the real estate industry gathered on Real Estate Connect conferences in New York and San Francisco, but Brad Inman’s post last April reveals the growing disconnect with the most disruptive business models and a new generation of FSBOs (technology enabled homeowners seeking to save money by selling for-sale-by-owner):

Real estate disruption may not be what you think it is (please share this URL via social media)

“I have never believed that real estate disruption comes from consumers selling their own houses. Individual real estate agents are here to stay. They provide an invaluable service that most of us need and want.”

Historical context

Efforts to reform the residential real estate industry reform span more than 30 years, beginning in 1983 when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated the industry and then rose in frequency eight years later when the Consumer Federation of American first called the industry a “cartel.” In 2006, the FTC, US Department of Justice held hearings and brought legal action against the industry and individual MLS’s to create a more open, competitive real estate marketplace. Some, including members of this group, predicted that the fruit of those reform efforts, market innovation, and web-savvy consumers would yield $30 billion annually in consumer savings.

How do we rekindle that spirit and deliver those savings? Several times over the past two decades, alternative real estate business models have struggled to organize three different groups: (1) buyer agents, (2) fee-for-service real estate consultants, and (3) LEOs: Listing Entry Only services. Is there enough membership / infrastructure left in any of those groups to rekindle the reform movement?

One non-profit — — Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate — is underfunded, but is a credible source that the press, including Inman News, seeks out for the consumer’s perspective. RECALL (Real Estate Consumer Alliance) is a related but an informal group that has mobilized in the past on an ad-hoc basis to address a variety of issues that negatively impact consumers, like designated agency legislation.

Co-creating Synergy

If you’d like to reconnect with fellow change agents and follow or participate in disruption related conversations please visit the link below.

Alternatively, simply follow the hashtag #RE2020 to see if a new coalition / new generation of real estate consumer advocates and geeks can make progress towards an open real estate ecosystem by 2020.


1. SPEED NETWORKING online this Friday, October 10 at noon (EST). Contact realestatecafe (dot) com for details.

2. BARCAMP BOSTON offline Saturday & Sunday October 11-12.  Want to meet offline and continue the collaborative mapping exercise on the image above:  (1) Where is real estate broken or (2) vulnerable to disruption, and (3) where are new start-ups already making inroads?

3.  MEET next week October 16 at in Boston, and explore best ways to build traction for disruption, reform and realignment in residential real estate, too.

4.  SHARE link to our related blog post, Disrupt, reform or realign real estate: Opportunities to connect dots & build synergy

Posted in Change Agents, Commission Reform, Consumer protection, Disrupt Real Estate, Fee-for-service, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, RE2020, Real Estate Roundtables, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Savings & Rebates
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