Friday, July 21, 2006

Consumer Groups To Fight For Repeal of Realtors Protection Law

WRTV reports tonight that several consumer groups will join forces to fight to overturn Indiana's new Realtors Protection Law, which effectively put discount brokers out of business in Indiana. As WRTV described the new law, real estate brokers are required to provide full services, including listing, showing, negotiating and closing the deal if they wished to qualify as a broker-agent and collect a fee for their services. That denies consumers the "right to choose and save money" WRTV explained.

Tonight's story included an interview with Angie Hicks of Angie's List, as well as John Slimak, the former local head of Home Yeah, which closed its operations here after the new law took effect because its discount/limited services program represented 62% of its business; those services could no longer be offered under the law. Slimak opened a new discount brokerage business, but his fees are considerably higher than the discount fees once charged by Home Yeah. Advance Indiana reported exclusively on the impact of the new law on Home Yeah last March.

In a telephone interview Rep. Tim Harris, the author of the "Realtor's Protection Law", conceded that he had been advised by the U.S. Justice Department not to push the passage of the new law because of its anti-trust concerns. He said he was satisfied by others that the new law would not be anti-competitive. Surprisingly, he indicated he might be willing to consider revisions to the law if evidence of its anti-competitive nature can be demonstrated. WTHR indicated that, in addition to Angie's List, the Consumer Federation of America and other unnamed consumer groups will seek to repeal Indiana's new law.

Advance Indiana and Indiana Law Blog have reported extensively on this new law since its enactment, while most of the mainstream media have virtually ignored it. Last month, the Louisville Courier-Journal had a story, which picked up on AI's original reporting on the impact the new law had on Home Yeah. The Indianapolis Business Journal picked up on the story a week later. None of the MSM reports have credited either the Indiana Law Blog or Advance Indiana for the earlier reporting on this issue, even though they relied heavily on those reports for their stories.

UPDATE: Inside Indiana Business has posted on its website a press release Angie's List released seeking the repeal of Indiana's Realtors Protection Law. You can read it by clicking here. Hat tip to Indiana Law Blog for catching this item.


Anonymous said...

The real shame here may not be the mainstream media being asleep at the switch. It may be the lack of verification of the spurious claims of Slimak. Check out when he bought his new business relative to the law passing. Check out the success of HomeYeah in the months leading to it's closure, well before this law passed (he was tanking). Check out his claim that this "put him out of business". Not only does this strain credulity if you merely read the law, but it defies the experience of other companies both in Indiana and other states that have passed similar laws, many of whom are doing just fine. Maybe Slimak and Angie's List are just getting a lot of free ink thanks to a lack of reporting. Maybe he found an easy way to justify the higher prices of his new business.

Who's using who?

Anonymous said...

I wonder about Slimak too. His old company tried to sell me a mortgage and didn't even tell me about his relationship with the mortgage company. I thought that was supposed to be disclosed?

Anonymous said...

I have to second these questions raised about Slimak. And has anyone wondered why the conservative Republican Oesterle has aligned himself with the Consumer Federation. Angie's List a consumer watchdog? Gimme a break, they're the most ruthless business around. Almost seems like he's Slimak's partner?

Gary R. Welsh said...

If Oesterle was Slimak's business partner, do you think Gov. Daniels would have signed the Realtors Protection Law. I've certainly not heard anything negative about Slimak until you anonymous posters stopped by to attack him. I don't suppose you would be realtors?