1.2 Explain The Importance Of Multi Agency Working

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1.2 Explain The Importance Of Multi Agency Working



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Multi-Agency Collaboration and Representation

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This Chapter also discusses the Internet as a means of providing real estate brokerage and related services to consumers. Finally, this Chapter addresses gaps in consumer knowledge that may exist despite the extensive information now available on the Internet. By reducing the cost of transmitting and searching information, the Internet has enabled consumers more easily to educate themselves about all facets of home buying and selling. For example, before the introduction of the Internet, consumers had to learn about homes for sale through real estate brokers, or through various offline marketing vehicles, such as yard signs, newspaper advertisements, or real estate magazines.

These techniques are still important and commonly used, but consumers now have access to listing information from a variety of online sources as well. Many brokers market listings online through their own websites and give their MLSs permission to place their listings on Realtor. The source of listings for many of these advertising websites is the MLS. Broker IDX websites enable home sellers to get greater exposure for their listings, and enable home buyers to search listings, both on national IDX websites e. Although these IDX websites, as explained more fully below, provide critically important avenues for brokers to advertise their listings to potential buyers and their agents, these websites are not a substitute for the MLS.

In contrast to VOWs and to brokers' "brick and mortar" offices, websites that rely on an IDX datafeed contain less information than the actual MLS database, and that information may be out of date. For example, it is not uncommon for MLSs to withhold the home address, a critical piece of information for brokerage clients, from the IDX datafeed. Some MLSs also withhold such datafields as the detailed description of the home or the property disclosures. Finally, IDX-based websites often will be missing some homes that recently have been listed for sale and include some that are no longer for sale because there often is a delay between an update of MLS data and when those changes are reflected in the IDX datafeed.

Panelists representing traditional brokers acknowledged that the listings information provided via an IDX datafeed is limited. For example, one panelist explained that "what you see in the MLS is more detailed information [than is displayed on IDX websites], but again, [brokers] have access to that [information in the MLS], and [brokers] can provide that to the consumer. As this panelist explained, access to full MLS, rather than limited IDX datafeeds, is "extremely valuable" because it allows agents to tell consumers "the minute that something is listed, 'Let me tell you, there was a new listing that just popped up, it's matched your criteria, I think we ought to go out and look at it.

In addition to listing information derived from MLSs, consumers also can view homes for sale on third-party advertising websites such as Craigslist. For example, consumers can use the Internet to research brokers, mortgage and lending options, and recent home sales and home valuations in their community. Several Workshop panelists and commenters remarked on how the Internet has expanded the amount of information available to consumers, making them more knowledgeable as they enter into real estate transactions. One commenter concluded: "Today's sellers and buyers are more educated and more knowledgeable thanks almost entirely to the growth of the [I]nternet. One panelist opined that "a generation of Americans are now comfortably and constantly connected to the [I]nternet and to [eC]ommerce.

They instinctively start with the [I]nternet before they search to buy anything. They do extensive research online. Industry-produced data appear to support this view. A recent NAR survey of home sellers and buyers concluded that "[t]he most significant trend in the home search process is the increasing importance of the Internet as a source of information about homes and the characteristics of different communities. By placing more information in the hands of consumers, the Internet has facilitated the growth of nontraditional business models — such as fee-for-service brokers, VOWs, and broker referral networks — that allow consumers opportunities to substitute their efforts for those of the broker, in many cases in return for lower fees.

These lower fees reflect the lower cost of serving consumers who are "easier to serve" because they perform substantial online research themselves. The cost of an agent's service, therefore, should go down reflecting this shift in burden. Consumers differ in their willingness, ability and opportunity to use the Internet to perform functions traditionally provided by brokers. While many consumers may be willing to perform search tasks themselves, they may be more likely to continue to rely on brokers for assistance related to the transaction process because it involves expertise derived from broker experience.

For sellers, this may mean setting their own sales price and relying on the wide online exposure of MLS listings rather than broker effort to market their home, and hiring an agent only to list their home in the MLS and for assistance in closing the transaction. While the Internet clearly has had a significant impact on the real estate industry, one Workshop panelist, an economist, opined that the real estate brokerage industry has not experienced the types of technology gains benefiting consumers that have been seen in other service industries, such as making airline and other travel reservations and buying and selling stocks. The resistance of some traditional brokers to dealing with firms that more fully or innovatively use the Internet is one factor that could limit realization of the Internet's full potential.

Even with the significant amount of information currently available on the Internet, there may be gaps in knowledge by some consumers in several important areas that may result in real estate brokerage markets functioning less efficiently. First, it appears that many consumers are not fully apprised of their marketplace options. For example, the most recent NAR survey of home sellers and buyers found that the majority of home sellers contact only one listing agent before hiring one to assist with the sale of their home. Second, consumers may be unaware of the possibility that their brokers may have conflicting interests that lead them not to provide the consumer with the best possible advice.

As discussed in more detail in Chapter IV, brokers have certain incentives to "steer" consumers toward those homes that offer the highest cooperating broker commission payment and away from homes listed by brokers known to charge home sellers discounted commission rates. In this manner, brokers can take advantage of their superior knowledge of market conditions by steering clients away from home listings that otherwise match the criteria identified by the consumers, but provide lower financial gains for the broker than other homes. Home buyers' increasing use of the Internet may limit brokers' ability to steer buyers away from discounters' listings without their knowledge.

As noted above, 80 percent of consumers use the Internet to search for homes in If a home buyer finds a discounter's listing on his or her own that appears to be a good match, a broker likely will either have to show the home buyer the discounter's listing or explain why he or she will not. In addition, consumers also may be unaware that when they pay their broker a commission based solely on a percentage of the sales price at closing as most do today , the broker's financial incentives are not necessarily aligned with the consumer's.

On the sell side of the transaction, the consumer's interest is to sell the home at the highest possible price. Even though an agent's commission increases with the price of the home, he or she likely retains no more than 1 to 2 percent of the sales price after paying the cooperating broker and the agent's brokerage firm. Consumers may be unaware of these potential conflicts of interest. Some commentators have posited that alternative payment structures may better align consumer and broker interests.

Real estate brokers compete to attract customers in different ways based on price and non-price dimensions. To compete on price, they can offer lower commissions to home sellers and, where permitted, rebates to home buyers. On the service dimension, they can offer more assistance or convenience to customers. Brokers also compete for customers by marketing their services to potential buyers and sellers in various ways.

Although consumers benefit to some extent from all of these forms of competition, the available data suggest that brokers may compete less on price than would be expected in a competitive market. Even though national average commission rates have fallen steadily since and commission rates appear to vary inversely with housing prices, it appears that rates are sufficiently inflexible to cause commission fees to move in tandem with housing prices. The recent run-up in housing prices illustrates this phenomenon: from to , housing prices rose 37 percent in real terms and, although national average commission rates appear to have fallen from 5. The evidence also suggests that rising per-sale profits for brokers induce entry by new brokers so that the average number of sales per broker declines.

This Chapter explores evidence concerning competition among brokers. Section A examines the structural features of the real estate brokerage industry. Section B describes the nature of competition among brokers and views about the current state of competition presented by Workshop panelists and commenters. Section C presents the available data on actual commission rates and fees. Section D reports one panelist's attempt to make sense of the evidence presented in Sections A through C.

Although a detailed exploration of all industry characteristics was beyond the scope of the 'Workshop, participants focused on a variety of characteristics, including broker concentration and entry into the industry. Competition among brokers is primarily local because real estate is fixed in a geographic location, and buyers and sellers often want some in-person interaction with a broker who has experience and expertise relevant to that particular location.

For example, a broker in Alexandria, Virginia, competes with other brokers able to meet the needs of consumers who are buying and selling homes in the area; this is likely to include other brokerage firms located in and around Alexandria, but not those located in California. Recent research supported by NAR states that "the U. Although nationwide market shares provide little information about local market concentration, national-level data do demonstrate that there are many brokerage firms and agents, and that most brokerage offices consist of a small number of agents. According to a Workshop panelist, there are approximately 98, brokerage firms operating over , local offices in the United States.

There is conflicting information regarding the percentage of home sales nationwide accounted for by the largest real estate firms. NAR reported in its public comment that in the top ten brokerage firms in the United States had a combined 9. However, in many cases, individual brokerage firms exist under common ownership or as part of a franchise system. For example, Realogy — through its franchises and wholly-owned brokerages — claims to have "participated in approximately one of every four domestic homes sold through a brokerage in In any case, competition among brokerages tends to be local, and brokerage shares calculated at the local level can be far higher than those suggested by national data.

Realty One, Inc. Iowa Realty Co. The requirements for becoming a real estate licensee i. A FTC Staff Report on the real estate brokerage industry observed that "the nearly universal opinion is that there are no significant barriers to entry, if entry is construed as gaining a license in order to practice. Several Workshop panelists expressed a similar view. According to one panelist, "there are no significant barriers to entry or expansion in the residential real estate industry. As a result, there has been a dramatic number of new agents and new entrants into the industry in recent years. Some commenters stressed the ease with which one can become an agent.

For example, one industry participant stated: "Becoming a real estate agent is far too easy and too fast for what the service contemplates: The sale of what for many people is both their most important asset, and the one thing that physically binds their family together: a home. Brokerage entry appears to be more difficult than agent entry. At a minimum, an entrant that wants to establish a brokerage must hire or become a licensed broker. Establishing such name recognition could be aided by affiliating with a national franchise e. The examples of relatively high local market shares for brokerages described above suggest that agent entry is more common than brokerage entry. Brokers compete for clients on several dimensions by offering the most attractive service and price combination.

Competition among brokers based on service to consumers includes a wide range of possibilities. Brokers can provide varying degrees of assistance to buyers, such as performing MLS searches for homes for the buyer or allowing a buyer on-line access to MLS data to perform such searches on his or her own. They can provide varying levels of service to sellers in marketing their homes, such as holding open houses more or less frequently. To facilitate a particular transaction, "[b]rokers can help sellers and buyers to varying degrees throughout the entire transaction process: helping the seller set the asking price, guiding buyers when they formulate their offers, providing guidance through the maze of paperwork faced by buyers and sellers and recommending reliable inspectors, lawyers, mortgage brokers, etc.

Broker marketing can include paid advertisements in television, radio, print, or online media; informal networking to meet potential buyers and sellers; and giving away pumpkins at Halloween. Competition among brokers on price primarily occurs through lower commission fees and rebates. In the majority of transactions, the commission fee is determined by multiplying the commission rate negotiated in the listing contract by the home's actual selling price.

In other cases, brokers may charge a flat commission fee for certain services or bundles of services. Alternatively, brokers may adopt a combination of flat fees and a commission rate. Since cooperating brokers do not directly participate in negotiating listing contracts, rebates offer a way for them to compete on price. There were contrasting views among Workshop participants and commenters about the extent to which brokers compete on the price dimension. The FTC's last report on real estate brokerage, twenty-three years ago, stated:.

Some claim that things have not changed. In its comment, the American Bankers Association "Association" observed that "[one] would expect to see variations in brokerage commissions across geographical regions as the supply and demand varies dramatically across the United States, but little if any variation exists. In contrast to the views of the Association, NAR reported in its public comment that the residential real estate brokerage industry is "fiercely competitive" and that commission rates "are set by market forces in order to attract clients. Several other commenters claimed that there is vigorous price competition. One broker described the competition that he faces as follows: "In about 95 percent of the leads I get, I have competition from at least one other Real Estate Agent, and on listing appointments, I am often competing against [two] to [three] other Agents, and I lose quite a few [to] those who list with lower commission rates.

In my own experience, I have already lost listings to brokers who have offered to take the listing at a lower brokerage fee. Several commenters also provided anecdotal evidence regarding falling commission rates in various areas of the country. It varies greatly. Some commenters identified discount and fee-for-service brokers as key drivers of price competition.

One agent claimed that, due to the prevalence of discount brokers, real estate agents "are confronted with the question how much can you reduce your commission? It is a standard question now. Commission Rates and Fees: Empirical Evidence In light of the contrasting views presented above, it is reasonable to ask what empirical evidence reveals about commission rates and fees in recent years. Unfortunately, as one author recently noted, "There is not much empirical evidence on commission rates. The data are usually proprietary and not readily available to the public or to academic analysts. REAL Trends publishes nationwide average commission rates. Its data are derived from a survey of the top brokerage firms in the country and a group of rising firms just below the top Fees, measured in constant dollars, are based on median home prices so as to represent what a typical consumer would pay in real estate commissions to sell his or her home.

As illustrated in Figure 1, commission rates have fallen gradually over this time period, from 6. Figure 2, however, shows that despite the downward trend in rates, the dollar amount of commission fees appears to have increased closely in line with rising housing prices. Growth in home prices was relatively flat through most of the s and real commission fees did not surpass their levels until At the same time, as housing price growth accelerated from through , real commission fees rose about 25 percent.

Figure 3 illustrates annual percent changes in real housing prices and commission fees from through , and provides additional illustration of how fees tend to move in tandem. For most years, the annual percent change in real commission fees is very similar to the annual percent change in real housing prices. Other studies have examined REAL Trends data and have made the same observations about patterns in commission rates, housing prices, and brokerage fees. For example, Weicher calculates that although the average commission rate as reported by REAL Trends fell by 16 percent 6. Data reported to the Securities Exchange Commission by Realogy, the largest brokerage firm in the United States, are consistent with these findings. For example, recent Realogy data indicate that between and Realogy's average commission rate declined about 7 percent while the average sales price for the homes they sold increased about 30 percent.

Rather than using REAL Trends aggregated data, some researchers have analyzed commission rates on a transaction-by-transaction basis to determine the extent to which commission rates vary in relation to a variety of market factors. The studies have focused on, among other things, the distribution of commission rates within certain geographic areas and the relationship between commission rates and various property characteristics such as the age of the home or the list price , market conditions, and the amount of time that the home spends on the market. In late and early , the FTC staff conducted a national survey of recent home buyers and sellers.

Each survey participant who had sold through a broker was asked the commission rate that had been quoted by the broker. The staff found that 85 percent of the sellers surveyed were quoted a commission rate of either six or 7 percent by their broker. A study analyzed the relationship between commission rates and several variables, including the price of the home, whether the home was a new or existing home, and whether the sale involved cooperation from another broker. The study found that in 23 percent of the market areas i. According to the author, "[t]he [HUD-1] data clearly reveal systematic variation in the actual home brokerage commission rates according to the three variables examined. A study analyzed the relationship between the commission rate offered to cooperating brokers and the selling price of the home.

In a study, the authors tested a theoretical model relating commission rates to changes in a local housing market. The sample data provided by a local MLS consisted of 15, single-family home sales in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana metropolitan area from through These authors also considered whether commission rates within the Baton Rouge market responded to market-wide changes akin to housing booms and busts. They found a counter-cyclical pattern for commission rates. In other words, as the demand for housing and sales prices increased, commission rates declined. However, the authors' statistical results suggest commission rates are relatively inflexible.

Overall, the evidence suggests that while commission rates may vary modestly with housing prices and overall market conditions, they do not tend to vary in proportion to changing home prices. As a result, inflation-adjusted commission fees per transaction appear to follow closely movements in home sales prices. In other words, commission rates are relatively inflexible.

Although neither commenters nor Workshop panelists presented evidence to explain the cause of relatively inflexible rates, this phenomenon has meant that the price that consumers paid for brokerage services rose considerably during the recent run-up in housing prices. The evidence presented above shows a dramatic increase in agent entry in recent years coupled with claims of intense competition among brokers. Yet, consumers are paying almost 25 percent more for brokerage services, after adjusting for inflation, than they did in A Workshop panelist, Chang-Tai Hsieh, an academic economist, offered one possible explanation of how, in the presence of relatively inflexible commission rates, the increased entry and non-price competition by brokers can reflect an inefficient constraint on price competition.

According to Hsieh, in a booming real estate market, relatively stable commission rates imply higher commission fees per transaction and an increased profit opportunity for agents. Because becoming an agent is easy, an increasing number of people enter the industry in search of these higher profits. But with more and more agents competing to close transactions, the average number of transactions per agent will decline. Further, if commission rates are relatively inflexible, such that agents do not seek to attract customers by offering lower rates, agents will compete along other dimensions to gain clients. Marketing is often beneficial to consumers and competition, and some consumers may benefit from the enhanced service competition in this market.

But when competition occurs primarily along such dimensions, brokers may expend more resources providing additional services than the value of those services to consumers. According to Hsieh, real estate agents may be competing intensely but do so primarily by expending resources to gain listings rather than competing by lowering their commission fees, a phenomenon Hsieh calls the "tragedy of the commission. Further, this theory suggests that because agents compete profits away by incurring additional expenses to provide these services, rather than lowering their commission rates, they operate at inefficiently high cost levels.

Hsieh provided empirical evidence at the Workshop consistent with competition in the brokerage industry occurring primarily in non-price dimensions. Drawing on commission rate data from the FTC Report and examining census data on commissions from the period of to , Hsieh and his co-author found evidence suggesting that regardless of home selling prices, commission rates appear fairly stable around 6 percent over the relevant time period and across markets. He concluded that these empirical findings are consistent with his hypothesis that "higher commission fees in more expensive cities are dissipated by excessive entry of brokers.

Hsieh's observations using earlier data are consistent with other reported market conditions. Namely, there has been substantial agent entry in recent years and the average number of transactions per agent declined by 20 percent from through The number of new agents entering the market in the past couple of years has outpaced the home sales growth and even the home price growth. So, given the fact that the Realtor membership has increased far more than actual home sales, it's not surprising that the median income has fallen. A remaining question, not resolved by Workshop participants or commenters, is why commission rates are relatively inflexible.

In particular, in light of the evidence presented above regarding the relatively limited competition among traditional brokers on the price dimension, innovators should not be discouraged by industry policies or government regulations from offering more flexible commission rates. In the next Chapter, we turn to obstacles innovators may be encountering. In recent years, the Agencies have become aware of actions taken by state legislatures, industry regulators and private actors that have the effect of restricting competition in the real estate brokerage industry. This Chapter discusses these actions and the Agencies' responses. It also addresses the role that the cooperative nature of real estate brokerage may play in shaping competition in the real estate brokerage industry.

Legislative and Regulatory Restrictions on Competition. This Section examines three types of restraints imposed by state laws and regulations that are likely to reduce competition and consumer choice in the real estate brokerage industry: anti-rebate laws and regulations; minimum-service requirements; and overly broad licensing requirements. As discussed in Chapter I, rebates can be powerful tools for price competition among brokers. Rebates are permitted in most states, and brokers in these states may freely advertise their willingness to offer rebates that save consumers hundreds and often thousands of dollars per transaction.

Rebate bans inhibit price discounting and thereby harm consumers. For example, in states allowing rebates, some brokers operate business models pursuant to which they rebate up to one-third or one-half of their commission to their buyers. Because cooperating brokers typically receive 50 percent of the overall commission, a broker who returns half of his or her commission to the client provides a 25 percent discount on the overall commission payment; rebating one-third provides approximately a 16 percent discount. For example, if a cooperating broker were to earn half of a 5. While action by a state through legislation is generally immune from federal antitrust enforcement, not every act of a state governmental entity is protected by state action immunity.

In March , DOJ filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against the Kentucky Real Estate Commission, alleging that its regulations prohibiting Kentucky real estate brokers from offering rebates restricted competition and caused consumers to pay higher prices for real estate brokerage services. Under the terms of the settlement, which was approved by a federal judge, the Kentucky Real Estate Commission agreed to cease enforcement of its rebate prohibitions, allowing Kentucky consumers to avail themselves of the benefits of increased competition through broker- offered rebates, discounts, and other inducements.

During the course of the investigation, DOJ found evidence that brokers wanted to restrict rebates because they understood that rebates are a form of price competition. As noted in the Complaint, in response to a survey asking brokers whether the Kentucky Real Estate Commission should retain the rebate ban, one broker predicted "[I]f we give rebates and inducements, it would get out of control and all clients would be wanting something. The present law keeps it under control. In response to these investigations, the South Dakota and West Virginia Real Estate Commissions rescinded their regulations prohibiting rebates, thereby enabling consumers in those states to receive more benefits of competition.

No Workshop panelist who commented on rebate bans found any justification for them. A panelist representing several major national brokerage franchises noted that state rebate prohibitions deprive consumers of potential benefits available to consumers in states without prohibitions; rebate prohibitions also limit the competitiveness of real estate brokerages in those states where such prohibitions exist. One panelist noted that, given the clear benefits of rebates to consumers, it is "hard to find a good articulated defense" of rebate prohibitions. While states properly are concerned with issues of consumer fraud, there is no evidence that rebates have harmed consumers or that rebate bans improve service quality. It is clear, however, that rebate prohibitions harm consumers by preventing price competition.

Over the last two years, several states have imposed so-called minimum-service requirements on brokers. As the name suggests, these laws and regulations enumerate specific tasks that a broker must perform for a client. Missouri's law is representative of these requirements, mandating that all brokers who enter into an exclusive brokerage agreement Currently, Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Texas, and Utah have minimum-service laws that require licensees to perform tasks similar to those specified in Missouri's law. As the FTC and DOJ have explained in letters to several states, minimum-service requirements harm consumers in two ways. Second, minimum-service requirements can reduce the competitive constraint that fee-for-service brokers pose to full-service brokers.

A consumer who lived in a state with a minimum- service requirement, however, would not have that option available. Regardless of which alternative the consumer chooses, the consumer would be worse off because he or she cannot choose the preferred combination of price and service, which brokers would be able to provide in a state without minimum-service requirements. A second effect of minimum-service requirements is that they reduce the competitive constraint fee-for-service brokers place on full-service brokers.

To the extent that fee-for-service options cost more, full-service brokers will have less need to offer these incentives. Thus, if fee-for-service brokers are forced to raise their prices in response to minimum-service requirements, consumers who choose full-service brokers are also likely to pay higher prices for real estate brokerage due to a reduction in the competitive constraint provided by fee-for-service brokers. Proponents of minimum-service requirements typically argue that these requirements purportedly: 1 protect consumers; and 2 protect brokers. As discussed below, evidence presented both at the Workshop and outside the Workshop contradicts these justifications. Rather, minimum-service requirements discourage competition and raise prices for consumers.

Advocates for minimum-service requirements claim that ordinary people are "plainly unable" to handle their real estate transactions, and thus argue that states need to mandate the number of services real estate brokers provide to ensure that consumers receive assistance from an experienced professional. Another argument is that consumers expect real estate agents to perform certain tasks, and that these laws merely meet consumers' expectations. The evidence, however, does not suggest that consumers who choose to use fee- for-service brokers are harmed by performing certain aspects of the real estate transaction themselves or misunderstand the nature of the contractual relationships into which they enter. For example, one Workshop panelist who owns a limited-service brokerage noted that in there were more than 3, complaints filed with the Texas Real Estate Commission against brokers and agents, but there has never been a complaint filed against a fee-for-service broker.

Because consumers tend to know the prices of additional services before entering contracts with fee-for-service brokers, they are not likely to suffer from the "hold-up" that minimum- service advocates have asserted as a reason for such provisions. Further, the origins of these laws suggest that the asserted public interest justifications are not genuine. Comments provided at the Workshop suggest that the impetus for these laws comes not from aggrieved consumers, but from state Realtor associations. Panelists representing the gamut of real estate business models remarked that they do not see a need for minimum-service laws. For example, the head of a major real estate brokerage franchise stated that "while we have no reason to believe that the states' motives [in adopting minimum-service laws] are anything but well-intentioned, neither Century 21 nor our parent company, Cendant, believes that minimum standards legislation is truly necessary.

Consistent with these panelists' comments, the Consumer Federation of America issued a report in June addressing competition in the real estate industry. Given that under minimum-service requirements choice is reduced and in many cases prices go up, those who favor minimum-service provisions should bear the burden of demonstrating that consumers affirmatively benefit from them. No evidence was presented at the Workshop indicating that consumers are better off with minimum-service requirements, nor have the Agencies been able to find such evidence elsewhere. Finally, if there is a legitimate concern that some consumers who enter into fee- for-service brokerage arrangements truly do not understand that they are contracting to receive fewer services than a full-service broker would provide, a far less restrictive solution would be to require brokers to disclose in plain terms which services they will and will not be providing.

Indeed, several panelists, representing both fee-for-service and more traditional business models, suggested such disclosure as a preferable alternative to minimum-service laws that as practical matter ban fee-for-service brokerage. Advocates for minimum-service requirements also claim that when one side of the transaction is a home seller who is a party to a limited-service listing agreement rather than a traditional full-service broker, cooperating brokers who represent buyers may face special risks. This line of argument typically focuses on three types of risks to the cooperating broker. First, some fear that sellers using fee-for-service brokers foist additional work onto full-service cooperating brokers and jeopardize the transaction due to the sellers' inexperience.

For example, these advocates fear that a cooperating full-service broker may be forced to explain aspects of the transaction to the seller or perform some of the tasks related to removing contingencies and closing the transaction typically performed by the listing agent. One panelist, a past president of NAR, stated that an inexperienced seller handling the transaction on his or her own poses several risks to the buyer and the transaction, which cooperating brokers must act to avoid if they want the transaction to close successfully. For instance, the buyer may have locked in a loan, putting his or her interest rate at risk if the sale fails to close, or may have begun arrangements to move out of his or her current living space.

Second, some cooperating brokers claim that minimum-service laws are necessary because those brokers are concerned that work they end up performing when the listing broker is providing a limited set of services may give rise to liability for undisclosed dual agency. In situations where the cooperating full-service broker is an agent of the buyer, but provides assistance to a seller to help close the sale, they claim that the broker risks becoming an undisclosed dual agent.

This arguably can give rise to legal liability for both the cooperating broker and the buyer. Finally, some have argued that the cooperating full-service broker risks not being compensated because the home seller might complete a deal directly with the buyer. Proponents of this argument state that this outcome is more likely to occur with a fee-for- service listing than a traditional listing because the person soliciting buyers is the home seller who is not regulated as a real estate licensee and thus has less concern about attempting to solicit clients who are already represented.

The Agencies have not encountered evidence supporting any of these arguments in favor of minimum-service restrictions. We have not found any increased incidence of undisclosed dual agency problems associated with limited-service brokerage. In addition, there is no indication that the marketplace is incapable of addressing situations where cooperating brokers may face additional work to close a transaction. Cooperating brokers may also seek to negotiate higher compensation from the listing broker or from the home buyer. Further, if limited-service transactions do impose additional costs on cooperating brokers, sellers represented by fee-for-service brokers might find that they must offer cooperating brokers a higher commission to induce them to show their homes, and we are aware of no impediments to them doing so.

Accordingly, there is no basis for believing that there is a need for a minimum-service law to "protect" cooperating brokers from doing additional work when facing a home seller represented by a fee-for-service broker. With regard to the risk of a broker not receiving compensation because the home seller deals directly with the buyer, the MLS already protects the cooperating broker through its dispute resolution mechanism.

If a listing broker fails to pay a cooperating broker, the cooperating broker can bring a "procuring cause" dispute against the listing broker through the MLS arbitration mechanism. Further, proponents of minimum-service requirements have failed to present evidence that this risk is either unique to fee-for-service brokers or so prevalent as to warrant minimum-service requirements. Even if some of the proffered justifications for minimum-service laws were valid, there appear to be far less restrictive ways to address them — ways that preserve the benefits of competition for consumers — than implementing minimum-service requirements to address them.

First, the full-service broker can disclose his or her responsibilities to both parties in the transaction to make clear the scope of the broker's services. Second, requiring buyers' brokers to disclose the potential for dual agency to the seller and obtain a waiver would eliminate the danger of undisclosed dual agency. In fact, NAR has agreed that disclosure creates "appropriate expectations" for all parties in the transaction to avoid undisclosed dual agency.

Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin recently have adopted this approach. Help improve this content. Digital Service Plays Understand what people need Address the whole experience, from start to finish Make it simple and intuitive Build the service using agile and iterative practices Structure budgets and contracts to support delivery Assign one leader and hold that person accountable Bring in experienced teams Choose a modern technology stack Deploy in a flexible hosting environment Automate testing and deployments Manage security and privacy through reusable processes Use data to drive decisions Default to open. PLAY 1 Understand what people need We must begin digital projects by exploring and pinpointing the needs of the people who will use the service, and the ways the service will fit into their lives.

What user needs will this service address? Why does the user want or need this service? Which people will have the most difficulty with the service? Which research methods were used? What were the key findings? How were the findings documented? Where can future team members access the documentation? How often are you testing with real people? PLAY 2 Address the whole experience, from start to finish We need to understand the different ways people will interact with our services, including the actions they take online, through a mobile application, on a phone, or in person.

Checklist Understand the different points at which people will interact with the service — both online and in person Identify pain points in the current way users interact with the service, and prioritize these according to user needs Design the digital parts of the service so that they are integrated with the offline touch points people use to interact with the service Develop metrics that will measure how well the service is meeting user needs at each step of the service Key Questions What are the different ways both online and offline that people currently accomplish the task the digital service is designed to help with? Where are user pain points in the current way people accomplish the task? Where does this specific project fit into the larger way people currently obtain the service being offered?

What metrics will best indicate how well the service is working for its users? Checklist Use a simple and flexible design style guide for the service. Use the U. Web Design System as a default Use the design style guide consistently for related digital services Give users clear information about where they are in each step of the process Follow accessibility best practices to ensure all people can use the service Provide users with a way to exit and return later to complete the process Use language that is familiar to the user and easy to understand Use language and design consistently throughout the service, including online and offline touch points Key Questions What primary tasks are the user trying to accomplish?

Is the language as plain and universal as possible? What languages is your service offered in? If a user needs help while using the service, how do they go about getting it? PLAY 4 Build the service using agile and iterative practices We should use an incremental, fast-paced style of software development to reduce the risk of failure. How long does it take for a production deployment? Which version control system is being used? How are bugs tracked and tickets issued? What tool is used? How is the feature backlog managed? How often do you review and reprioritize the feature and bug backlog?

How do you collect user feedback during development? How is that feedback used to improve the service? At each stage of usability testing, which gaps were identified in addressing user needs? PLAY 5 Structure budgets and contracts to support delivery To improve our chances of success when contracting out development work, we need to work with experienced budgeting and contracting officers. What are the key deliverables?

What are the milestones? How frequent are they? What are the performance metrics defined in the contract e. PLAY 6 Assign one leader and hold that person accountable There must be a single product owner who has the authority and responsibility to assign tasks and work elements; make business, product, and technical decisions; and be accountable for the success or failure of the overall service. Checklist A product owner has been identified All stakeholders agree that the product owner has the authority to assign tasks and make decisions about features and technical implementation details The product owner has a product management background with technical experience to assess alternatives and weigh tradeoffs The product owner has a work plan that includes budget estimates and identifies funding sources The product owner has a strong relationship with the contracting officer Key Questions Who is the product owner?

What organizational changes have been made to ensure the product owner has sufficient authority over and support for the project? What does it take for the product owner to add or remove a feature from the service? PLAY 7 Bring in experienced teams We need talented people working in government who have experience creating modern digital services. PLAY 8 Choose a modern technology stack The technology decisions we make need to enable development teams to work efficiently and enable services to scale easily and cost-effectively. Checklist Choose software frameworks that are commonly used by private-sector companies creating similar services Whenever possible, ensure that software can be deployed on a variety of commodity hardware types Ensure that each project has clear, understandable instructions for setting up a local development environment, and that team members can be quickly added or removed from projects Consider open source software solutions at every layer of the stack Key Questions What is your development stack and why did you choose it?

Which databases are you using and why did you choose them? How long does it take for a new team member to start contributing? PLAY 9 Deploy in a flexible hosting environment Our services should be deployed on flexible infrastructure, where resources can be provisioned in real-time to meet spikes in traffic and user demand. Checklist Resources are provisioned on demand Resources scale based on real-time user demand Resources are provisioned through an API Resources are available in multiple regions We only pay for resources we use Static assets are served through a content delivery network Application is hosted on commodity hardware Key Questions Where is your service hosted?

F Record, summarise, share and feedback information. F Respect the contribution of others working with individuals. F Share experience through formal and informal exchanges. It is important to develop procedures for an effective working relationship with other professionals because as well as making my workplace more enjoyable to work in, the service users will benefit from a better service with better outcomes, when everyone works as a team. It will also help my organisation to maintain a professional image. The simplest way to understand what is important to another person or to a group is to ask, then and listen to the answer.

It is important to clearly define my own role and responsibilities and those of other professionals and agree common objectives, goals, targets and ways of working. I will need to exchange complete, accurate and up-to-date information with other professionals whilst respecting requirements for confidentiality. In order to ensure an effective working relationship this must be done in line with good practice, values and ethical requirements. Any commitments I have made should be fulfilled or advise people immediately if I am unable to do so.

Any disagreements and complaints should be dealt with promptly, positively and in line with organisational procedures and professional guidelines and also in the best interests of the service users. F Multi-disciplinary working requires the establishment of shared protocols and formalised procedures to help ensure consistent standards of care. F Developing an effective multi-disciplinary team requires the setting of clear objectives through the identification of need and the planning, purchasing and financing of services. F Effective planning. F Consideration of how services are to be financed. F Management of a multi-disciplinary team requires procedures to address the professional, training and developmental needs of individual team members.

I will need to build relationships with other professionals and be able to work effectively with them, both inside and outside of healthcare in order to deliver a high standard of care and to make sure of the service users safety. It is important to ensure that the service user remains the centre of the process. It is important to respect the skills and contributions of other professionals, and developing effective communication with other members of the team and with the service user. Common SMART objectives should be established in the beginning and be agreed by all involved in the partnership. This means that they tell you exactly what to do.

This means that there should be a way of telling when you have reached the goal. There is no point setting a goal that you cannot possibly achieve, as this will demotivate you. Be honest about your priorities in the coming weeks and do not try to do too much. The goal should help you to move towards your final goal, e. A deadline should be set for achieving your goal. I must remain aware of the boundaries of my own role and responsibilities as detailed in my job description. So what are objectives? Objectives are the outcomes I expect to achieve from my aims or goals.

Objectives act as a reference to guide me through the planning process - they influence all the decisions I make. A meeting is not simply a time to get together and discuss what is going on. The main purpose of most meetings is to reach agreement on how to progress in the future. It is important that decisions made in meetings are clearly recorded, so that everyone knows what will be done, who will do it and when it will be done. Written records of meetings are usually known as meeting minutes. They usually record who attended the meeting, what was discussed and what was decided. I must establish the principle of transparency concerning the sharing of information. What types of information would be covered by this?

How and by whom should information be made available by each of the party ies? What are the consequences of failing to make agreed information available to the other party ies? What are the agreed expectations concerning the sharing of information? What information can each organisation withhold from the other? What information may be used externally by each party? Me and my partners should agree an agenda at the start so that everyone is clear about the objectives, their personal responsibilities and the responsibilities of others in the partnership. In order to evaluate procedures used for partnership working there has to be a system in place to monitor and review progress.

This is where the importance of agreeing the outcomes and timescale at the beginning of the partnership are important. The evaluation should be carried out by monitoring, reviewing and measuring the progress made against set outcomes. Regular progress reports should be produced. If procedures are working well with all the professionals involved this will result in positive outcomes e. If the procedures are not working it could result in negative outcomes such as professional rivalry, miscommunication, time wasting and mismanagement of funding. The impact of my organisations working with other professionals, on the service users, should be taken into account and their views and opinions should be listened to as part of the evaluation process.

This part of the evaluation could be conducted by completion of a questionnaire by service users, if possible. Positive outcomes for the individual could include improved services, empowerment, autonomy, informed decision making whilst negative outcomes could consists of miscommunication, information overload, confusion, frustration, duplication of service provision and disempowerment. It is important for all members of a partnership to be aware that conflict is inevitable. Different philosophies, principles, priorities and codes of practice can have a positive effect on team working by providing a more thorough and well-rounded look at how the team should be working to achieve the best possible outcomes for service users.

However if the different philosophies, principle, priorities and codes of practice are in conflict with one another it is possible that this will have a negative effect because there will be inconsistencies and this can result in confusion within the workplace. When dealing with this many people and their views conflict and dilemmas are not only inevitable but often daily occurrences. There are several styles that can be adopted when dealing with conflicts or dilemmas;. A competitive style is usually adopted by the person involved in the conflict that has more power. They know what they want and they are not willing to budge from their position. This can be useful in situations of emergencies when the problem needs a quick resolution.

A person adopting this style is concerned with meeting the needs of all the people involved. In care this can be useful when balancing the needs of service users and the organisational requirements. The aim of this style is to achieve a win: win scenario following the conflict or dilemma because everyone has helped to establish the solution together. A person adopting this style is also concerned with everyone getting something that they want but possibly giving up something else, reaching a compromise and reaching a win: win situation.

A person adopting this style is concerned with meeting the needs of others at the expense of their own. This person is not assertive and highly cooperative. This style is appropriate when a peaceful outcome is more important than winning. A person adopting this style is concerned with evading conflict and the dilemma entirely. This style is not very effective at resolving conflicts or dilemmas but is appropriate if there is no chance of winning for either side. A good way to resolve conflicts and dilemmas is to follow some rules. It is based on both parties working together to find a mutually acceptable solution.

This is however based on the assumption that there is sufficient common ground to make it worthwhile. I should. Another option is mediation, which involves including a third party into the situation. The mediator works with both parties passing on information and attempting to get the negotiations moving rather than coming to a halt. The mediator should be neutral and should not pass on their own opinions. They should build trust with both sides in order to be effective. A good way of preventing conflicts from erupting is by creating an atmosphere in which collaboration is valued and interpersonal differences are accepted but are not allowed to jeopardise cooperation.

It is essential that I work in partnership with all of the people surrounding the individuals I am supporting in order to ensure a person centred approach to their care and the best possible support and care is provided. Before discussing inter-agency co-operation and participation, it is important to consider how I can promote the participation and empowerment of the service user. No matter how effective the inter-agency collaboration and information sharing is, if the service user does not feel part of the process the chances of successful outcomes will be significantly reduced.

In order to work well in partnership, there has to be good communication and I will need to have good communication skills.

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