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 WASHINGTON, March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The debate is growing among real estate professionals about the effectiveness and feasibility of facilitators -- sales people who serve as intermediaries in a transaction and have no fiduciary duties or agency relationships. Some of the arguments and issues surrounding the concept are addressed in the April issue of Real Estate Today, published by the National Association of Realtors.
 In a round table discussion conducted by Real Estate Today, five realtors discuss their feelings about the facilitator concept.
 Their comments, contained in a question-and-answer article entitled "The Great Debate," provide insight into how those in the industry view the role of facilitators in terms of what this practice could and could not bring to the profession.
 Participants in the round table discussion were Don Harlan, partner and managing broker of Harlan, Myles & Douglas, Ltd., Denver; Tom Hathaway, president of The Buyer's Agent, Germantown, Tenn.; Dave McEachron, regional sales manager for Buyer's Resource, Inc., Wolfeboro, N.H.; Sharon Millett, president of Millett-Potvin Realty, Auburn, Maine; and Michael Wietor, owner/broker of Country Squire, Inc., Realtors, Davie, Fla.
 According to the participants, the facilitator concept has evolved for a number reasons. Hathaway, for example, said it's an effort to "shed the legal problems of being a disclosed dual agent," while Millet believes the concept is part of a natural progression that began with disclosure. "We started asking, `Whom do you represent?' Now we have a new question: `Whom do you want to represent?'" she said.
 The participants also discussed the actual duties of a facilitator and how those duties would be determined. The group agreed that state law likely would dictate duties, and that it would be difficult for states to pass legislation recognizing facilitators and their roles in the marketplace if state real estate commissions are opposed to the concept.
 "The job of regulators is to protect consumers, and they're going to look for the facilitator to offer the same kinds of protection and services to the consumer as the agent," said Millet.
 Harlan added that while the facilitator concept may develop, "we will not be relived of our liability and responsibility."
 McEachron posed the question: "Is the philosophy behind the facilitator movement one of consumer protection or one of practitioner protection? I can see how practitioners might benefit if they could perform all the duties they perform now but with none of the liability of true agency. Yet I can't see how that would benefit consumers."
 Wietor expressed doubt about sellers picking up liability for subagency in transactions where the facilitator concept is used. "Subagents can be negligent when they show property; they can make misrepresentations that can come back to haunt the sellers," he said.
 On the issue of whether limited liability would result in limited service, the panelists' opinions varied, as well. "If we're not held accountable for our fiduciary duties, I can't imagine how we wouldn't diminish the service we'd render," McEachron said.
 "The way I've seen the concept described, the facilitator would be nothing more than an intermediary who crafts the transaction or brings people to a meeting of the minds. But practitioners do a lot more than that - they market homes, show them, and negotiate. None of that would disappear if fiduciary duties were eliminated," Wietor added.
 In their discussion, the panelists also addressed when it would be feasible to use facilitators, how facilitators could change the way the industry works, and what the chances are that this concept could become a reality in the real estate profession.
 "I think legislatures will be very reluctant to pass laws that would reduce our liability. We can't go back to caveat emptor and a total release of our liability," said Harlan.
 Added Wietor, who believes laws will change to recognize facilitators: "I don't know whether it will be in Florida, Oregon, Wisconsin or Colorado, but it's going to happen somewhere and once one state does it, it's going to gain momentum."
 Real Estate Today is published monthly, except in February and December. For subscription information, contact Real Estate Today at 312-329-8461.
 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.
 -0- 3/25/93
 /CONTACT: Annemarie Roketenetz, 202-383-7560, or Iverson Moore, 202-383-1290, both of the National Association of Realtors/

CO: National Assocation of Realtors ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:

KD-DC -- DC004 -- 9398 03/25/93 08:48 EST
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Date:Mar 25, 1993

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