The real challenge with writing about politics and real estate is that everyone takes off during the Christmas holidays. Congress has left town and won’t be back for a bit so the health care debate has died down. Tea Party revelers are face down in the egg nog and probably too cold to come out and make a fuss.
It seems that the only person who’s on the job is Dick Cheney busy reminding everyone we’re at war, damn it, and don’t you forget it. As if the parents of the returning dead and wounded can forget. Yeah, the Christmas Day bomber wannabe got people stirred up. At least Obama didn’t come to the podium and urge people to shop ’til they dropped to make things all better.
Of course, now we have new RESPA rules that include “simpler” HUD-1 sheets and the notorious and infamous Good Faith Estimate. Supposedly, this will allow the home buyer to have some good solid numbers with which to shop. My take is that it will only serve to confuse them. HUD might have done Realtors — full service Realtors — a favor, though. Someone is going to need to take the home buyer by the hand to help them make the good choices and, more importantly, settle when they’re supposed to settle even if the HUD-1 and the GFE don’t match up like they should. The $24.95 flat fee “showing agent” isn’t going to have the education, experience, internal stamina or financial incentive to deal with it.
Now, maybe the NAR will spend some of their money on marketing Realtors as professionals that can help home owners and home buyers through the increasingly complex maze of regulation. Don’t get me wrong, the Barbie doll family sitting on a fence and the model perfect “Realtor” in the “Now is the time to buy” ads are nice eye candy. It’s just that, well, they insult the intelligence of the home owner and home buyer and diminish the professionalism of the Realtor.
I’ve got a bit more to say about the NAR but I’ll save it until next week.
So…what’s your take on the new RESPA rules? Help? Hinderance?