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What’s big, dumb, sclerotic and panics on command? A California Association of Realtors member, apparently.

So this big dumb robot shows up on the front porch this morning:

Believe it or not, it’s from the California Association of Realtors. The robot exists to support this video:

Get it? There’s a meet-cute featuring pre-tween pretend robots, and this clunky piece of junk communicates… what…?

My reaction? “Urf. Now I’m going to have to waste time mocking this nonsense…”

Okayfine. You will note that the robot seems to be suggesting that California Real Estate is something of a slot machine.

But at least your CAR member agent has his squarish mechanical head screwed on right.

And in a batteries-not-included world, your mechano-Realtor comes complete with two enormous D-cells, which must have added considerably to the postage.

The box didn’t provide a lot of insight into why one should choose a CAR-certified RealtorBot, but it was fun imagery:

Ultimately, though, it’s the test of the marketplace that matters. And a CAR-approved RealtorBot can panic mindlessly like no other.

Hey, CAR members: No tar, no feathers in California? This is your money I’m having such a good time with…

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  • Wall Street Journal: “A home is a lousy investment.”
  • Sarasota Association of Realtors – The real Cybersquat

  • 7 comments

    Todd Carpenter joins the Knights Who Say SMIE!

    Todd Carpenter, the National Association of Realtors’ official In-House Social Media Judas Goat, has announced that he is leaving that charnel house of corruption for the slightly-less-corrupt Trulia.com. Carpenter, who almost immediately proved himself to be much too goaty for the refined nostrils of Michigan Avenue, managed to last three years with the NAR.

    His new position at Trulia is entitled — I kid you not — Senior Manager of Industry Engagement (SMIE). In an earlier, more circumspect age, a job title like this would have implied carefully-honed skills in affable-cocktail-drinking, check-grabbing and barely-losing-at-golf. In the Realty.bot era of the dot.com epoch, Todd’s function will be to be well-known to thoughtless TwitBook time-wasters in the real estate business, thus to provide “social proof” that advertising on Trulia is an unbeatable waste of money.

    Carpenter’s announcement is the fourth in a recent series of similar “news” stories. Todd will be following Bob Bemis, Jay Thompson and Duane Fouts into exciting, challenging leadership roles in the burgeoning Realty.bot Judas Goat industry. In light of Carpenter’s utterly implausible new job title, I have denominated all of these sellouts great guys “The Knights Who Say SMIE!” They may not actually say “SMIE!,” mind you, but you can bet they’ll say what they’re told to say. To do less would be cheating the shareholders, when the job description clearly calls for gulling the yokels.

    As always, if you don’t know who is the yokel — it’s you. If you don’t believe me, check for blood in your underpants.

    I have warned you about all this for many years. You didn’t listen then, and you won’t listen now. But if all the mad monkeys of the TwitBook mob “decide” to tee me up for a Two Minutes’ Hate, could y’all please go the extra mile and hate my new book and web site, too? Chapters 10 and 11 explore the mob mentality thoroughly, so there’s plenty to rant about.

    But: Still: My heart goes out to Todd Carpenter, easily the most easy-going of The Knights Who Say SMIE! I always thought he was redeemable, and I still do. And look at the bright side: He may still be saying, “SMIE!” for a living, but at least the money he takes home will have been proffered by volunteers, not MLS-slaves. And unlike the other KWSS-asses, Todd is at least moving up on the ladder of moral character.

    (Hat tips: Lani Rosales and Teri Lussier.)

    Related posts:
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  • We know sheep will follow a Judas goat to their slaughter, as will cattle. Now the NAR is testing the idea on lemmings…
  • Caption this: Todd Carpenter at the NAR Mid-Year flamboozlepalooza

  • 11 comments

    Looking for some good news? You’ll find it among people who don’t push each other around at gunpoint.

    The Federal government wants to save your life by killing your livelihood.

    This is something we might expect the NAR to object to, but the National Association of Realtors is too busy telling lies.

    Meanwhile, here’s some actual good news: We are getting closer to workable video wallpaper.

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  • What happens in an internet minute? And how do you hope to push-market your way through it?
  • Don’t you love reading all that good news about the the Phoenix real estate market’s recovery? Guess what? You’re being lied to — as always.

  • 3 comments

    Hey, California Realtors: Are you making minimum wage for your efforts? If not, your broker just went into cardiac arrest.

    Teri Lussier pointed this out to me last week, and I’ve been waiting since then for someone to plumb the implications. Ah, well, when there’s constabulary work to be done…

    Here’s the news: The state of California is making ZipRealty pay it agents minimum wage for their time.

    That’s huge. It’s just the thin edge of the wedge, for now, but the implication is that the real estate broker’s “safe harbor” exclusion from employment laws is about to be flushed into the Pacific Ocean.

    The “safe harbor” argument is that real estate salespeople are independent contractors, and that brokers are not obliged to pay them any wages, nor to provide any benefits.

    This is why brokers pile on as many hopeless, helpless, hapless idiots as they can: Virtually everyone has at least one transaction in him, and the cost to the broker for the eventual failure of 85%+ of the new “hires” is nothing.

    I don’t want to seem to praise employment laws, since their sole effect is to destroy jobs. But no other business would — or even could — be as wasteful of human capital as virtually every real estate brokerage is.

    Could that be changing in California? Take note of this:

    “Employers who previously were not concerned with minimum wage issues are now put on notice to ensure they are providing those basic protections to workers.”

    And this:

    After learning of the Bakersfield cases, California State Labor Commissioner Julie Su in September filed a $17 million lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of hundreds of other ZipRealty employees statewide. That lawsuit is pending.

    Brokerages like Zip (and Redfin, etc.) have a greater exposure, because they operate too much like real businesses. But I can’t imagine what the 25,000 or so starving California Realtors might be thinking just now.

    But I think I have a fair idea what their brokers are thinking…

    The National Association of Realtors is propped up on three flimsy stilts: The real estate licensing laws, the “co-broke” — the cooperating brokerage fee behind the MLS system — and the IRS-sanctioned independent contractor “safe-harbor.”

    Unheralded by anyone who knows why it matters, the “safe-harbor” took the first hit in its ultimate demise last week. You heard it here first.

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  • Dawn in America Part 3.5- Who Needs Jobs?
  • Oregon voters tell High Earners and Businesses to GET OUT! Where will they go?

  • 11 comments

    An open letter to El Queso Grande: If you lay down with dogs, you wake up with fleas — which is news to no one.

    Q: “Oh, dear! An NAR committee I am very proud to brag about belonging to is composed of clueless idiots. Whatever shall I do?”

    A: Ahem.

    I swear I’m not making this shit up. Witness:

    “It’s time to do something different.”

    Jeesh…

     
    (H/T Linda Davis.)

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  • Dispatch from the NAR IDX Rule committee Meeting

  • 2 comments

    Blessed Are The Implementers, For They Will Inherit the Moniker “Unchained”

    I caught up on some much needed sleep yesterday, after the fifth BloodhoundBlog Unchained Conference, held in Anaheim, CA.  It is my hope that my partner Greg Swann celebrates his birthday, in relaxation and Splendor, before pondering the future of these conferences.  As the Godfather of the Unchained movement, Greg argued that the title of these conferences be “Unchained” rather than the “Unleashed” title I offered.  What Greg knew, and I understand now, is that Unchained suggests that the Bloodhound was never enslaved while unleashed suggests prior submission.

    If you missed our show in Anaheim, you missed the proof in the pudding.  I’ll give you an overview:

    Greg Swann led us off with a demonstration of his Chinese army; software which creates tens of thousands of unique webpages, with granular listing data.  Greg showed us how he can close the publishing gap, in less than an hour each week.  Greg continually invents new and exciting software, to stay one step ahead of the market competitors, who would try tho chain him.

    Scott Schang came to Unchained 2008 on, how he has described it, “his final few bucks”.  He took the ideas offered there, implemented them here, and created a business which employs a half-dozen people.  He shared his online business plan, his accomplishments and mistakes, and how he overcame market changes to stay relevant in the consumers’ eyes.  From borrowed bus fare to accomplished entrepreneur, in 40 months, Scott has a database of willing home buyers, numbering in the five figures—Scott is Unchained.

    Brian Summerfield, of the National Association of Realtors, came to take some body blows from the crew.  It was his motivation which impressed me; he transparently announced that he came to address us because he wants content for Realtor.org .  Mr. Summerfield invites constructive criticism of NAR on its forum.  Contact him if you have an opinion to offer.

    Bill Lyons, a serial entrepreneur, shared his latest creation for consumers, Revestor.com .  Revestor.com offers investors an IDX search with rental data.  Home buyers can search listings by net cash flow or capitalization rate.  Revestor.com is expected to be released right before Thanksgiving.

    Mark Madsen and Tony Sena reflect their Vegas heritage well.  Never content to seek the chains of employment, the pair created WannaNetwork.com as a business community alternative to Myspace.com.  That site inspired the wildly successful group blog, MortgageDaily.tv where Mark assembles some of the greatest mortgage minds across the country.  Mark and Tony attended Unchained 2009,  learned some valuable information and made invaluable contacts, to launch their latest venture, Shelter Realty.  Their presentation chronicled the steps they took to make this new business a force in the SERPs.  Both gentlemen embody the Unchained spirit.

    Eric Blackwell knows search engine optimization.  When we first met Eric, at Unchained Orlando, he was toiling away for a Louisville brokerage.  The contacts he made, along with some salesmanship skills he learned, set Eric up for the challenge of entrepreneurship.  Eric overcame a health scare to launch his own SEO consultancy; Eric on Search.  Today, Eric helps regional brokerages and high-producing agents, dominate the SERPS in their region.  While Eric is certainly the “rock star” of Unchained, he also demonstrated some of the things he learned, to wear the Unchained moniker.

    Trudy Smit was an Unchained first-timer and shared her project, Loan Interchange, an online marketing platform for loan origination and secondary notes marketing.  Her technology offers notes investors and opportunity to buy and sell, in a centralized location where participants are vetted.

    Finally, I led an ill-prepared session on email marketing.  I intended to share my video e-mail marketing campaigns, which helped me to achieve a higher conversion rate, but the hotel internet was too slow for a good performance.  Good entrepreneurs however, have plans– and contingent plans. Business never pans out the way you think it will so you must anticipate the problems you might have.  In a sense, I had chained myself to a presentation which relied upon an inflexible plan.  Our Unchained conferences teach lessons to everybody so my takeaway is that you must be prepared for any and all opportunities.  If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, I was “unlucky” because I was unprepared.

    The Unchained philosophy is one of freedom–the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail.  We know that our world and industries are changing rapidly.  Old bosses are being replaced by new bosses and the Unchained practitioner will supplant all bosses, to chart her own course, serve her customers, and profit wildly.  We hope to continue to give you the tools you need, to profit wildly, and share the experiences of those who implemented the strategies they learned with us.

    Born Free and Determined to Stay That Way,

    Brian Brady

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  • Unchained Hunting: A Video Summary

  • 5 comments

    Hey, Ron Phipps: I say the National Association of Realtors is a rent-seeking Rotarian Socialist conspiracy against the American consumer. Can you offer even one argument to refute that claim?

    My friend and partner, the ever-more-Unchained Brian Brady, posted a Facebook link to a Wall Street Journal article on the current push by the National Association of Realtors for extended loan subsidies for the rich:

    To understand why 90% of U.S. mortgages are still underwritten by taxpayers, look no further than the nearby letter from Ron Phipps of the Realtors lobby. He makes clear that the Realtors, like the rest of the housing-subsidy crowd, are working hard to get Congress to reinstate a $729,750 loan-limit for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantees.

    Why do rich people need taxpayer-underwritten home loans? They don’t, of course. The NAR needs loan subsidies at all income-levels to keep churning the real estate market.

    In case you haven’t looked at your bank statements or retirement accounts lately, the NAR has already churned the American economy into a five-year coma. But like every other legislative vampire, the NAR won’t stop sucking away at unearned income until the body politic is entirely exsanguinated — bled to death.

    This latest Five-Alarm Urgent Action Item — one of three or four a week Phipps and his minions spam-spew — is nothing more than an extension of the original NAR philosophy: Milk consumers, taxpayers and real estate salespeople for the benefit of brokers.

    Do you doubt me?

    The real estate licensing laws, written in their original form by the NAR, exist to limit competition in real estate brokerage, eliminating alternative sources of real estate brokerage to artificially sustain higher commissions for NAR brokers.

    The sales commission co-brokerage fee — the vaunted “cooperation” among brokers — exists to create the Multiple Listings Service oligopoly, the golden handcuffs by which real estate salespeople are bound to their brokers and to the NAR — and which, not-coincidentally, continues the viciously anti-consumer NAR policy of de facto sub-agency.

    The IRS “safe harbor” exclusion shielding real estate brokers from having to report income for their employees makes it possible for brokers to churn-and-burn gullible real estate salespeople like a toy store burns through your kid’s allowance money. No other business can afford to treat human capital — that would be you — like so much toilet paper.

    And as Brian and the Journal note, the NAR’s innumerable loan subsidies not only induce economically-unwarranted churning in the real estate market, they prevent the emergence of a viable free-market in mortgage financing.

    Much worse, the people who actually pay for those subsidies are the ones who don’t benefit from them. But don’t worry, the NAR has other Rotarian Socialist programs to put those folks into homes they have not earned by their own efforts.

    The NAR is nothing but a vast, evil conspiracy, a criminal cartel devised to despoil consumers and taxpayers for the benefit of real estate brokers. Everything else is window-dressing. Get rid of the crime — the use of the police powers of the state to take money from people who earned it, giving it to people who did not earn it — and there is nothing left of the NAR.

    So here is my challenge for Ron Phipps, who is this year’s Titular Grand Poohbah of the NAR: BloodhoundBlog Unchained will be in Anaheim on Friday. If you can refute — or even dispute! — anything I have said about the NAR, now or ever, we will give you time to defend your position, and we will make a video of your remarks and make them available here for all to see.

    Why has the NAR never sought to contest my arguments? I think it’s because they know I am right. But if Ron Phipps — or anyone — can defend what looks to me like brigandry-in-a-Brooks-Brothers-suit, bring it on.

    Related posts:
  • What might have happened if the NAR had not caused this economic downturn? We don’t know. What we know is that the National Association of Realtors was the sine qua non cause of the Great Recession.
  • What does it mean that the NAR won’t defend itself from the charge that it was the sine qua non cause of the Great Recession?
  • If the National Association of Realtors were to back the repeal of the mortgage interest tax deduction, it could do three very patriotic things: It could reduce the debt load on all Americans, help consumers make wiser use of their money — and get itself off the dole!

  • 4 comments

    What’s your marketing plan for 2012? Set a Bloodhound’s pace this Friday at BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Anaheim.

    We’re having a Scenius this Friday in Anaheim, a BloodhoundBlog Unchained event that we’re running, subversively, during the NAR Convention. We’ve done this before, but the NAR was a lot more powerful the last time. By now it just seems pathetic — but we don’t much care either way.

    We care a lot about the Scenius, though. What we do is put a lot of bright, ambitious people together and then revel in the great ideas that emerge from the synergy. Our guests are some of the inventors of the wired world of real estate, and they will have lots of new ides to explore.

    Just think: Since the last time we did BloodhoundBlog Unchained, Google has come to be beset by Bing, Twitter by Facebook and the web by app-centric mobile computing. Seems like a good time to rethink your marketing strategies, doesn’t it.

    If you’re going to be in Disneyville for the NAR Convention, or if you’re within driving distance, join us.

    Here are the details:

    BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Anaheim
    Friday, November 11, 2011
    12 Noon to 10 pm
    Cortona Inn & Suites Anaheim Resort
    2029 South Harbor Boulevard
    Anaheim, CA 92802
    714-971-5000
    Mapped.

    The dogs will hit town Thursday afternoon, so, if you’re around, look us up. But the main action will be Friday. I know there are seats left, I’m not sure how many. If you want to get your 2012 off to a running start, assert yourself:

    Make the Scene: $99


















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  • 9 comments

    Real estate licensing laws are a criminal conspiracy against the consumer created by and for the benefit of a cartel.

    This is me writing in June of 2007. Someone linked to it from Twitter yesterday, and I read it for the first time in years. The argument holds up — there has never been any attempt at rigorous refutation — but it’s even more interesting now that America has discovered what Sarah Palin and others are calling “crony capitalism” — the pandemic affliction I call Rotarian Socialism or simply rent-seeking.

    When I wrote this, I was sure that the real estate licensing laws had nothing to fear. Things have changed. For a first thing, when state governments have to choose between marginal departments and continuing to provide a food dole to reliable voters, the state department of real estate could see huge budget cuts. But even better, sooner or later it will dawn on people that the only way to push “businesspeople” like the NAR off the taxpayer’s tit is to repeal all commercial regulation.

    That’s a game-changer. If you’re good at actually delivering value to your clients, so much the better for you. The free market rewards virtue. And if you’ve been depending on the NAR and all those huge stacks of rent-seeking legislation for your income — good luck at your next job… –GSS

     
    Real estate licensing laws are a criminal conspiracy against the consumer created by and for the benefit of a cartel

    When I walk into a supermarket, the first thing I look at are the floors. If they aren’t buffed to a blinding glow, I walk right back out. Why? Because if the manager isn’t staying on top of the floor maintenance, he isn’t staying on top of anything else, either. Without doubt, I am “protected” by vast armies of federal, state and local food cops, but it turns out that they are not willing to get food poisoning in my place. If I fail to guard my own self-interest, the courts might make me (or my heirs) whole — after-the-fact. But nothing can protect me if I won’t protect myself.

    Surely you effect many similar sorts of “consumer protection” in your own behalf, possibly believing in your heart that the laws can protect you, yet exercising caution to protect yourself even so. But consider this: If, when selecting electrical equipment, you had to choose between oversight by government functionaries or the Underwriters Laboratories — but not both — which one would you choose?

    If you said government, you can stop reading now. You’re hopeless. For those still with us, what we’re doing is exploring the implications of doing away with real estate licensing laws. And if that idea makes you shiver, you can settle down: No matter what I say, the real estate laws are not going to be repealed any time soon.

    But imagine for a moment that your neighbor’s mother introduced an old friend to the FSBO seller up the street. This is brokerage, introducing buyer to seller. The principals are unrepresented, but they can do everything they need to do — in Arizona, at least — at the offices of a title company. Nothing unlawful has occurred — until grandma takes a finder’s fee from either the seller or the buyer.

    At that point she is in violation of real estate licensing laws. She can connect buyers with sellers all day, every day — provided she does not get paid for doing so. The purpose of the real estate licensing laws is not to protect buyers and sellers from chatty grandmas, who may or may not know anything about real estate. Instead, those laws exist to limit artificially who can be compensated for introducing buyers and sellers.

    Before the advent of licensing laws, chatty grandmas and underemployed barbers, among other people, brokered real estate on the side. In the name of “protecting” consumers, the NAR got state legislatures to pass laws putting those innocent souls out of the real estate business. These are the actions of a cartel. Even now, the NAR is trying to pass federal legislation forbidding banks from brokering real estate.

    This is important. We’ve already established that laws and regulations will not protect you in the marketplace if you are unwilling to protect yourself. Moreover, we’ve agreed that — as with the Underwriters Laboratories — where free-market oversight systems are in place, they are preferable in your own opinion to government laws and regulations. Finally, with respect to real estate licensing laws, we have demonstrated that the purpose of the laws is not to protect the consumer, but, rather, to protect licensees from the brokerage efforts of chatty grandmas and underemployed barbers — and banks — and anyone else who might introduce buyers and sellers for less money than licensed brokers want for them to have been charged.

    From where I sit, there is no cogent rationale left to defenders of real estate licensing. We know from first-hand experience that self-protection buttressed by free-market oversight actually works at achieving true consumer protection. We also know that government laws and regulations do not work at achieving consumer protection. And we know that the real estate licensing laws are the result of a conspiracy against alternative vendors, with the far greater population of secondary victims being buyers and sellers of real estate. If you wish to defend these laws, I say you have nothing left to defend.

    I am in league with the Greeks. I believe in questioning absolutely everything, and I am not afraid to risk being wrong on the path to discovering what is right. It is far beyond pellucid to me that real estate licensing laws are an abomination. If I could effect only one of my desired real estate reforms, I would divorce the commissions, but it remains that the real estate licensing laws — and occupational licensing laws in general — are by far the greater crime.

    So, while you’re here, let’s consider some other ideas in the neighborhood. This is email I had from a Phoenix-area Realtor:

    I read your article in the Arizona Republic about licensing laws. I totally agree.

    I also wanted to ask you what your feelings are regarding part-time agents. I feel that there should be a disclosure requirement for agents with other employment. We all know that it can hurt our clients if we are not able to assist them in a timely manor.

    It needs to be disclosed that employment with someone else could delay an agent’s ability to service the client properly.

    Ethics and fiduciary is talked about all of the time but isn’t it unethical not disclosing an agents status?

    I think this is a fine idea, except by now we’re talking about torts — civil court cases — not statute law or regulations.

    If the real estate licensing laws were repealed, I think buyers and sellers would — as they should now — exercise much greater care in choosing whom to employ. Without the shield of the state-issued license to cover their asses, I would expect managers of real estate brokerages to exercise much greater care in choosing whom to hire. And I would expect the Errors and Omissions underwriters to step up their oversight in a big way.

    There’s more: The NAR — or a more-honest competitor — would have a far greater incentive to vet the ethics of its membership, as would the MLS system or whatever might replace it. As with the Underwriters Laboratories, these “professional” organizations might become something more than dues-devouring paper tigers at setting and enforcing standards of care.

    It might turn out that you could not employ a chatty grandma or underemployed barber even if you wanted to. The state license does nothing to prevent the lowest common denominators — intellectually and ethically — from becoming real estate “professionals.” But the free-market entities that arise to replace — and actually undertake — the oversight function could prove to be far more exacting than anything we can imagine in the current context.

    In a comment to my column from Friday’s Arizona Republic, Athol Kay asks three questions:

    If the laws’ purpose is to limit entry, why are brokerages packed wall to wall?

    Because the barrier to entry is still very low. The real estate licensing laws put the barbers — particularly — out of business, and they forbade people with a casual or isolated interest in real estate brokerage from collecting compensation for their efforts. But, unlike other occupational licenses, almost anyone who wants a license can get one.

    Wouldn’t that excess supply of agents drive prices down?

    It tends to keep the median income for licensees very, very low.

    Why didn’t NAR require/suggest licensing being a high hurdle instead of a low one?

    For the reasons discussed in the article commented on: Because the broker-level license is a license to steal. A steady supply of gross incompetents with stars in their eyes is the main profit center in many brokerages. The real estate licensing laws were hugely unpopular when they were first passed, so their scope was very limited. But where salespeople may or may not have clients, a broker’s clients are salespeople — and there is plenty of money to be had out of them before all but the smallest few of them fail. The NAR and the MLS are in on this game, too.

    Athol continues in a post at his own weblog:

    If you’re complaining about haphazard training, wouldn’t the more obvious solution be higher standards for licensure?

    No, for all of the above reasons: The license cannot substitute either for due diligence on the part of consumers or for free-market oversight entities. Moreover, further limiting the supply of providers of a function any reasonably intelligent barber can do is simply a more egregious form of the current conspiracy. If market forces demand greater training — as our own E&O underwriter does — that is the right way to effect it.

    There’s more: The license, no matter what training it requires, is fundamentally anti-intelligence, anti-experience, anti-due diligence. The license not only deludes consumers into thinking that all agents are the same, it permits newly-minted licensees plausibly to make that very stupid claim. Where vendors compete for reputation, experience matters. Moreover, in a market where reputation and long-standing successful practice matter, new entrants would have to align themselves with established firms to get the traction necessary to go out on their own. This allows for the training that mostly doesn’t happen now, along with a weeding-out that doesn’t happen at all. You can hang your new real estate license practically anywhere, since you’re all profit to your broker. If licensing laws were repealed, managers of successful brokerages would be very careful not to hire — and to terminate with dispatch — people who might destroy their reputations.

    More:

    No licensing means there would be no more agents. The legal construct of “a real estate agent” would vanish. With that change the entire category of Agency Law would be null and void.

    Not to be mean, but this is dumb. The law of agency is ancient, at least as old as the Greeks. If anything, the trend in statute law is to weaken the duties imposed by the common law of agency. To be frank, I would happily bid farewell to the entire category of laws designated as malum prohibitum — wrong because forbidden by statute law, with the civil courts handling the tortious claims now designated as malum in se — wrong in itself. In any case, where a party is injured in a real estate transaction, the case is handled in civil court, and this would not change if the real estate licensing laws were to be repealed.

    One more:

    Why would NAR seek to limit the number of Realtors anyway?

    It doesn’t. The NAR’s interest is in limiting the number of non-Realtors.

    Put a fork in this one. It’s done. The real estate licensing laws are not going to be repealed, more’s the pity, but I don’t think there is any rational defense to be made for them. They are a conspiracy arrayed directly against alternative vendors, and indirectly against all consumers, created by and for the benefit of a cartel. They do not protect consumers. They serve instead to induce consumers to be careless about their own interests, even as they encourage licensees to misrepresent their knowledge and experience. Moreover, they prevent the spontaneous creation of truly-viable free-market alternatives to licensing. They not only do not protect consumers, they effectively prohibit the means by which the interests of consumers could be protected.

    If you can dispute any of this, make your case in cold, clear reason. And if you cannot dispute this argument, a gracious concession would be an unexpected delight.

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  • Real estate licensing laws are a criminal conspiracy against the consumer created by and for the benefit of a cartel

  • 23 comments

    Why can’t the MLS or the mafia innovate? And what should you do instead of being an NAR goon?

    Today, Redfin.com CEO Glenn Kelman warns us that we may be “outsourcing our brains” because MLS systems are so stupid:

    I worry about whether the fundamental choice we made five years ago was the right choice, that if we played by the rules and used MLS data that we would be able to build a better Web site or a worse Web site. And, I think, the jury is still out there. But, I promise you, if brokers aren’t building the best Web sites for real estate consumers, we are headed for pain. Pain for the customer, pain for the broker.

    For weeks now I’ve been sitting on a post by FBS CEO Michael Wurzer summarizing half-a-dozen non-starter ideas for MLS innovation. I’ve been waiting, so far in vain, for someone to post a comment stating the obvious:

    Why can’t the MLS innovate? For the same reasons the mafia and the government can’t innovate: Criminals steal so they won’t have to produce wealth.

    When BloodhoundBlog Unchained comes to Anaheim, we’ll be covering lots of nuts and bolts tactics for the hard-working grunts on the ground — as you would expect. But we’ll also be talking about very big ideas, most notably how to run our business like a business and not a crime syndicate.

    I know Realtors don’t like to hear the truth about how the National Association of Realtors has behaved over the past 100 years, but just as with the leviathan state, the time we have left for childish stupidity is running out.

    I can’t cause the congenital Rotarian Socialists of the NAR to discover, honor and live up to their humanity. But I can show you how to build a lasting business you can be proud of — by behaving like an honest trader and not like a predator.

    I am not anti-NAR. I am not anti-MLS. I am not even anti-socialist or anti-graft or anti-sleaze. What I am is pro-values. If you will give me a few minutes of your time, I will show you how working with integrity in the real estate business is as simple as pursuing your own values — exclusively.

    If you can’t stand being told that the NAR way is the life of a parasite, don’t come, at least not for my part of the show. You are at war with your own mind, and you will learn nothing new while you indulge that sulky, absurd obsession.

    But that’s just more “anti” idiocy, anyway. If you lend me your attention, and if you ruminate on the techniques I will be teaching, I can help you find a completely different way of living — a better, cleaner, more fulfilling life in business, but a finer, more-rapturous life overall. Call it “The Splendor of Real Estate Sales and Marketing.” And then reflect that I’m just the tenth part of your C-note: “Ten bucks for a brand new you!”

    Your mind is supple and the world is young. Come dancing with me in Anaheim, with me and with the other dogs who will be there, and with our guests. I promise to challenge everything you’ve ever thought, and I pray you will do me the same favor. What comes of that will be a Scenius, and we will all become smarter, happier, more productive people.

    That’s funny, isn’t it? The hurdle to be leapt isn’t the money — the whole ten hour show will be a smokin’ deal for ninety-nine bucks. The leap is the risk of losing your religion, as it were. I have no answer for that. I never say anything I’m not prepared to defend, and I hope I never fail to yield to a better argument. But: If you can bear up to hearing the NAR’s predatory faith challenged, at a minimum you will find yourself in the company of a roomful of equally strong minds.

    In the end what I’m promising you is Stone Soup: I’m bringing the stone. Brian Brady is bringing the kettle. Y’all are bringing everything else. But all of us will feast together on a meal none of us could make alone. Is that something you can afford to miss?
     
     

    BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Anaheim
    Friday, November 11, 2011
    12 Noon to 10 pm
    Cortona Inn & Suites Anaheim Resort
    2029 South Harbor Boulevard
    Anaheim, CA 92802
    714-971-5000

    Make the Scene: $99


















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  • 6 comments

    Brian Brady makes it happen: BloodhoundBlog Unchained is on for Anaheim, Friday, November 11, 2011.

    Brian Brady got us a room, may the gods whisper his name in awe. We’re working on sponsorship, and I’ll have speaker announcements in the coming days. Here’s the big picture:

    BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Anaheim
    Friday, November 11, 2011
    12 Noon to 10 pm
    Cortona Inn & Suites Anaheim Resort
    2029 South Harbor Boulevard
    Anaheim, CA 92802
    714-971-5000

    We’re going split the day between formal presentations and Scenius scenes. No one can predict where lightning will strike, but we have delivered transformative experiences before. If you go to the NAR sessions that day, you can look forward to being upsold on crap. Come see us and we could change your life forever.

    That’s sounds like a value proposition to me.

    I’ll have more to say soon, but right now I want to give people who are paying attention a chance to jump. We have a very limited number of seats, so if being there matters to you, get your credit card out now.

    Make the Scene: $99


















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  • 19 comments

    SEVRAR puts the brakes on ARMLS über alles, at least for now: Arizona-wide MLS hits a roadblock.

    I wrote about this in July: The Arizona Association of Realtors wants to buy ARMLS, the Phoenix-area MLS system, in order to create a statewide MLS. This looked like the kind of sleazy insider self-dealing we have come to expect from Associations of Realtors, so I had assumed it was a done deal, all over but the staged performance of voting.

    Not so. For some reason, the Southeast Valley Association of Realtors (SEVRAR) voted to decline AAR’s offer — which was at least five cents on the dollar what ARMLS is actually worth, given the notion that Zillow.com is worth a billion dollars.

    But: I assume nothing. I have no idea why SEVRAR voted against what was obviously the party line. The cynic in me suspects a shake-down, but I really, really want to believe that some of that Mesa Tea Party spirit has found its way into the NAR.

    I left a comment on AAR’s weblog, but so far it has not been moderated. Those folks aren’t interested in hearing from me, anyway. Realtors and brokers from all over the country talk to me about real estate marketing, technology and law, but the local practitioners, to all appearances, have nothing to learn from me. Their loss. Here’s my comment, in any case:

    If you were at the SEVRAR meeting on September 9th, I’d love to hear why the sweetheart deal of the century was voted down.

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  • 9 comments

    Greco-Roman Rejection of Rotarian Socialism Is The Cure For What Ails the United States

    Europe has tried all sorts of Statist approaches to the PIIGS problems.  Today, Europeans are considering “liberalization”:

    As the European financial crisis moves into its next phase, there’s a new word to learn: “liberalization,” and it’s likely to be even more unpopular than “austerity.”

    Leaders in Europe are promising to “liberalize” their economies in an effort to grow those economies, but they face an enormous wall of vested interests that don’t want anything to change.

    Greg Swann talked about cutting regulations a year ago.  My comment:

    There are close to 400 licensed occupations. Compile a list of half of them, introduce legislation that outlaws states (and Feds) to regulate any of these professions.  Repeat each quarter. Within a year, you’ll only have 25 regulated industries. Within two years, the unemployment rate will drop to 6%, and there will be some 2 million new businesses created

    Ohmygosh, cut the licensing regulations?  Does that mean that someone, who hasn’t taken a 400-hour licensing course, will be charging money for weaving hair in their living room?  The horror.  How will the public ever be protected from bad hair-weavererers?  Reputation management is already happening in the free market.  Read Greg’s response:

    Check. There’s more that can be done, much of it to the benefit of very small businesses. Consider this: When you’re trying to decide if you should take a chance on a restaurant, who do you trust more, a city inspector who may be on the take or nine fiercely independent Yelpers? The dollar cost of preventing injuries that almost never happen is half of our economy — which is nothing compared to the opportunity costs and interest value of those lost opportunities. We’ve got a dinghy loaded up with admirals and we can’t figure out why it’s slowly sinking.

    Who then would stand in the way of  “liberalization”?  Let’s go back to the CNBC article:

    Leaders in Europe are promising to “liberalize” their economies in an effort to grow those economies, but they face an enormous wall of vested interests that don’t want anything to change.

    Take the case of Simon Galina, a 38-year-old taxi driver in Rome. His profession is one of many in Italy likely to undergo “liberalization,” and he doesn’t like it one bit.  Liberalization is a very big problem. It’s a big problem for him because he took out a $185,000 loan ten years ago to purchase a taxi license and he still has five years of payments left. He’s worried that if the government changes the rules now, it will likely be much more difficult for him to pay it back.

    Right now the number of taxis in Italian cities is tightly controlled by the local governments. If liberalization really does occur there will no longer be a cap on the number of cabs, and the cost for a license will fall dramatically, if not to zero. Bottom line, it’s going to be a lot easier to get into the taxi business. (Economists call this lower barriers to entry.)

    Regulation of commerce, under the guise of consumer protection, actually turns out to be BAD for the consumer.  Continue reading:

    That will be good news for Italian consumers: It’s going to be easier to find a cab, and cheaper to boot. But falling fares mean less income for Galina, and there’s that monthly loan payment  he will still have to pay regardless.

    The government has already begun this process in Athens, Greece, and it has led to tremendous violence as drivers protest the changes. Now imagine this change writ large across an entire society where hundreds and hundreds of professions have the same decades-old pay-to-play fee structure. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti promised to do just that on Friday night. Berlusconi agreed to the measures in exchange for the European Central Bank buying Italian debt on the open market, and acting as a buyer of last resort.

    Economists believe liberalization will lead to more jobs, which means higher economic growth and more tax revenue, exactly what countries like Italy need to pay back their debts.

    There is absolutely no reason, other than Rotarian Socialism, for the State to “license” any profession, be it a hair weavererer or a physician.  Occupational licensing is a conspiracy to defraud consumers, by impeding the price discovery,  which competition affords.  I just hope we won’t wait until there are people starving in the streets to “liberalize” here.

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    Wall Street Journal: “A home is a lousy investment.”

    Ahem: “Today’s young people would be foolish to imitate their parents and view ownership as the cornerstone of personal finance.”

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    At the risk of heaping more misery on the struggling residential property market, an analysis of home-price and ownership data for the last 30 years in California—the Golden State with notoriously golden property prices—indicates that the average single family house has never been a particularly stellar investment.

    In a society increasingly concerned with providing for retirement security and housing affordability, this finding has large implications. It means that we have put excessive emphasis on owner-occupied housing for social objectives, mistakenly relied on homebuilding for economic stimulus, and fostered misconceptions about homeownership and financial independence. We’ve diverted capital from more productive investments and misallocated scarce public resources.

    Between 1980 and 2010, the value of a median-price, single-family house in California rose by an average of 3.6% per year—to $296,820 from $99,550, according to data from the California Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac and the U.S. Census. Even if that house was sold at the most recent market peak in 2007, the average annual price growth was just 6.61%.

    So a dollar used to purchase a median-price, single-family California home in 1980 would have grown to $5.63 in 2007, and to $2.98 in 2010. The same dollar invested in the Dow Jones Industrial Index would have been worth $14.41 in 2007, and $11.49 in 2010.

    No need to pass these facts along to the National Association of Realtors. They already know.

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    Lay down with dogs and you wake up with fleas? Worse. If you decide to rape the taxpayers via NAR’s RAPAC scam you get… plague!

    From the Phoenix Realtor Forum, the monthly newsletter of the Phoenix Association of Realtors:

    Alas, the plague is a swarm of vampire-like locust Realtors. These are RAPAC’s objectives, according to the article, with interstitial commentary by me in bold text.

    • Mortgage Interest Deduction: NAR opposes any changes that would limit or undermine current law.

      That is, people who don’t buy homes on credit, including people who own their homes outright, people who rent and working poor people living in mom’s basement or in their cars, should subsidize the incomes of very wealthy people. If this doesn’t make you sick, you’re much too sick already.
       

    • Capital Gains Exemption: NAR opposes any changes to the capital gains exemption on the sale of a home.

      How much does the NAR hate real property? Why isn’t its position to eliminate all taxes, or at least all taxes on real estate?
       

    • Depreciation/Tenant Improvements: NAR supports efforts to establish a permanent rule that more accurately reflects the depreciable lives of buildings and to conform amortization periods for tenant improvements more closely to the term of the lease.

      More tax subsidies for the rich, rather than getting rid of taxes altogether.
       

    • Government-Sponsored Enterprises: NAR is recommending that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be converted into government-chartered, non-shareholder owned authorities.

      Because it’s harder to hide the corruption if the SEC is pretending to pay attention to FannieMae and FreddieMac.
       

    • Mortgage Loan Limits: NAR supports making the current higher loan limits and formula permanent.

      Rich people need more subsidies!
       

    • FHA/Federal Housing Administration Programs: NAR is a strong supporter of FHA’s single- and multi-family programs.

      Poor people need subsidies, too!
       

    • NAR Credit Policy: NAR is calling on the credit and lending industries and regulators to reassess the entire mortgage lending policy structure and look for ways to increase the availability of credit.

      Because not enough unqualified buyers were rooked into buying homes they couldn’t pay for the last time we pulled these stunts.
       

    • Short Sales: NAR continues to push the lending industry to expedite short sales.

      Criminal penalties if they don’t? Don’t laugh. Government is nothing but force. If we are doing anything other than negotiating by means of the persuasions of the free market, one party is holding a gun — by proxy of government — on the other.
       

    • Natural Disaster Policy: NAR supports a federal program that promotes the availability and affordability of property insurance nationwide and coordinates the mitigation of property against natural disasters, as well as post-disaster assistance.

      Stupid people must be rewarded for living where no one should live, and they must be rewarded a second time for moving back after the predictable disaster ensues.
       

    • Energy Efficiency and Climate Change: NAR supports improving energy efficiency through voluntary incentives in lieu of individual building mandates. Commercially reasonable approaches that advance market and smart-growth principles of protecting private property rights and maintaining real estate affordability and availability. Additionally, NAR supports educating property owners and consumers about the benefits of energy efficiency.

      How about this?: Get rid of the EPA, OSHA and the Department of Energy. Better yet, how about this?: Get government out of real estate altogether.
       

    • Commercial Real Estate Lending: NAR supports protecting and enhancing the flow of capital to commercial real estate. NAR believes Congress should consider legislation aimed at improving commercial real estate markets. These include increasing the cap on credit union member business lending (MBL) and improving lending access through the passage of the Small Business Lending Fund.

      Rich people cannot possibly ever get enough subsidies!

    Obviously, none of this is actually about the people who seem to be affected. It’s about nothing but churning the real estate markets with otherwise unwarranted transactions, this to gin up business for agents and brokers who, in the undisguised opinion of RAPAC, have nothing of value to bring to the marketplace without the imposition of criminal force by government.

    And that, doubt it never, is the real plague…

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  • 3 comments

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