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NAR/CFA LAUNCH CAMPAIGN TO STRENGTHEN CONSUMER SAFEGUARDS

 WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) today launched a joint nationwide campaign to strengthen disclosures by real estate agents to buyers and sellers in home sales transactions.
 The push by NAR and CFA will target state legislatures where real estate agency disclosure laws are either under review or need sharper teeth. The campaign was announced here at a news conference by NAR Executive Vice President Almon R. "Bud" Smith and CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck.
 "Confusion about whom a real estate broker/agent represents in a home sales transaction needs to be totally eliminated, and this joint campaign will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal," Smith said.
 Brobeck emphasized the need for enactment of tougher agency disclosure laws on a state-by-state basis. "Agency disclosure laws in most states do not ensure that home buyers know whom their real estate agent represents," said Brobeck. "These disclosures are so important because most agents working with buyers actually represent sellers," he said.
 NAR and CFA have identified five key criteria for improving consumer protection and notification of who represents whom in the real estate transaction:
 -- The disclosure must be written.
 -- A state-prescribed form must be used for the disclosure.
 -- The disclosure must be made at the first substantive contact
 with the buyer or seller.
 -- The disclosure form must be signed by the consumer and the
 agent.
 -- The disclosure should be concise and written in easily
 understood language.
 "This campaign will be ongoing and widespread," Smith said. "We are serious about providing the public with all the information needed to make intelligent choices. Our professional standards require no less."
 Brobeck added that the proposed criteria are the result of careful examination of existing disclosure laws and regulations. "By strengthening agency disclosure laws, the NAR/CFA campaign will dramatically increase consumer awareness of whom their agent represents," he said.
 Edmund G. "Gill" Woods Jr., NAR's first vice president, who hosted the news conference, said NAR policy requires realtors to disclose their agency relationship early in the sales transaction process. "Our joint campaign is aimed at codifying our association policy within the legal framework of all 50 states," said Woods, a realtor from Holyoke, Mass.
 The National Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (NARELLO) has endorsed the NAR/CFA initiative and the five key criteria. In a statement distributed at the news conference, NARELLO President Morella Larsen pointed to the need for informed decisions by consumers. "When clear disclosure is made, and is understood, the result is a healthy marketplace beneficial to everyone involved in the real estate transaction."
 Given NARELLO's support, Smith and Brobeck said they are optimistic that state lawmakers will move quickly to adopt the tougher standards.
 Vermont, Michigan and Kentucky are among the states targeted by the two groups for immediate legislative remedies.
 Since 1986, largely through the efforts of NAR, 43 states and the District of Columbia have mandated agency disclosure, either through regulation or legislation. However, "most existing laws are critically deficient in at least one important respect, usually because they fail to require disclosure at the first substantial contact," Brobeck added.
 Smith stressed that NAR and CFA are determined to correct these deficiencies. "Our goal is for all real estate practitioners, not just NAR members, to follow these criteria," Smith emphasized.
 The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest trade association, representing nearly 750,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.
 The Consumer Federation of America is an association of 250 pro- consumer groups, with some 50 million members, that seeks to represent the consumer interest through advocacy and education.
 -0- 1/5/93
 /CONTACT: Jeff Lubar of the National Association of Realtors, 202-383-1014, or Stephen Brobeck of the Consumer Federation of America, 202-387-6121/


CO: National Association of Realtors; Consumer Federation of America ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:

IH -- DC002X -- 1646 01/05/93 10:38 EST
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Date:Jan 5, 1993
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