On Tuesday, December 02, 2009, Inman News carried a new piece by Matt Carter, entitled “NAR Backing Realcomp Appeal.” REALonomics believes the article is another demonstration of NAR’s attempt as the tail of the industry, to wag us, the dog. Here is our response to NAR’s reported actions.
NAR should be seen here in its true light, a purveyor of control, monopolization and the promotion of the punishment of creative models that do not meet the local real estate dominance model put in force and sustained by its vast network of local Associations.
Although we are not supporters of discount brokerage as a viable business model, we feel the need to speak out on this issue and the freedom of Broker-Owners to create business models without the fear of retaliation and punishment by NAR and local Associations.
We are forced to ask the question, “Is anyone paying attention to how our dues, financial assets and human capital are being used by NAR?” Furthermore, are we paying attention to how NAR and local Associations are dealing with Broker-Owners who are not lining up in lock-step with centralized policy?
A few weeks ago, both NAR and the DOJ announced a settlement of the suit broought by DOJ against NAR reagrding its VOW policies and competitive restricition created by the policy.
Here is the official scripted response by NAR from Vicki Cox Golder, 2008 NAR First Vice President & Laurie Janik, NAR General Counsel. NAR President Dick Gaylord is also featured here.
There is an old saying, “After all is said and done, more will be said than is done.” The long battle between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) was declared “settled” today.
Not so fast! After a reading of the Final Judgment document, REALonomics offers the following cursory observations:
- THE GOOD: NAR cannot prohibit the distribution of full MLS listing information;
- THE BAD: Local Associations cannot engage in unique policies about local listing distribution;
- THE UGLY: NAR must report to the DOJ quarterly…this ain’t over, folks;
After all has been said and done, more has been said…and spent…than done with respect to how the real estate industry under the leadership of NAR has moved from its control model to a transparent model that will unleash the kind of innovation and consumer-centric services we need.
Furthermore, the DOJ has now completed one of its central objectives, to position itselfself as the sole arbiter of real estate property information access, all local associations and members of NAR and more importantly, as we have said before, to eventually control services and commissions.
Mark this down and highlight it: When the DOJ does anything under the banner of “public interest” there is a north and south point of reference, depending on one’s facing. Decide for yourself what this important section of the settlement might mean to the industry, long term and short term (highlights ours):
The big loser here is actually the industry itself, the thousands of broker/owners and yes, temporarily, even the consumer. NAR will remain under the DOJ microscope for some time to come. This entire debacle, we predict, is the precursor to mandated services and commission control. In this case, we hope to be wrong. The solution, we have long contended, is a reinvention of our models, how we use and distribute property information and finally, how we best serve the consumer, our ultimate client.
The settlement serves no real purpose yet! It’s just more of the same old square dancing between NAR and the DOJ. But watch out when people say it means nothing fail to see the overall DOJ strategy fuel by anti real estate indutry sentiment from consumer watch dog groups.
PRINCIPLE: It’s about the MONEY, stupid…commissions. This is just the beginning of a long death march toward more national scrutiny. We are going to tango with the DOJ again. This is not really about VOWs and property information. It truly is about US, the industry and our practices that smell of control and dominance and to quote the DOJ, anti-trust inclinations.
BIG WINNERS: The non-brokers, non-industry innovators and the neo-brokers are the big winners here. The “judgement” is a precursor, nothing more, nothing less. It’s the swinging open of a previously locked door so that we can see what’s on the other side. It’s what lawyers call “precident” and “legal trending.”
BIG WINNERS: Transparent advocates. It will be impossible to thwart the Democratization of Real Estate in an ultimate sense. This decision is like a strand of DNA but not the entire structure.
True, NAR may now face restrictions on its traditional control tactics but there’s more to the story when we recognize that competitors are waiting in the wings to bring open-sourced property information models to the forefront by empowering property owners to do whatever they please.
Our issue as an industry remains completely unchanged. Why haven’t we been able or willing or both to reinvent this industry into a vibrant, consumer-centric model that both empowers users and delivers adequate and sustained profit to broker/owners. The short answer is we don’t know how to do it!
For now we will simply continue the NAR/DOJ dance until one of them collapses. Does anyone think the DOJ will collapse?
READ THE Final Judgment.