I’ve been hearing from readers throughout the day on today’s story that the jury sided with North County real estate broker Mike Little in court in Vista yesterday:

Reader SH found us from Madison, Conn.:

The fact that the realtor worked very hard in trying to satisfy their wants and needs when it came to housing, they had to know the values of the surrounding houses without question, if they looked at 80 houses they must have previewed double that online via the web, advertising, websites. …

They got caught up in the housing craze and paid the price, sorry to say houses are not investments, they are houses, a home, a place to live.

Reader BD added:

The buyers looked at 80 homes. Couldn’t they form their own opinion of value?

And, here’s reader ST from Austin, Texas:

Justice was done. A different resolution might have opened the legal floodgates for other irresponsible and/or careless borrowers and buyers. Good precedent. Didn’t the agent show them 80 homes? Get real. My wife and I had discussed this at length. How hard would it have been to check with the Appraisal District in the city or county and check the recent transactions in their neighborhood? It’s simple due diligence. I can’t speak for CA, but in TX these documents can be viewed at the Appraisal District or the county courthouse. If I were about to spend $1.2 million  for a house, I’d definitely hire a legal beagle to go and research this for me, or even do it myself. As an aside, I’ve noticed that many of the people with mortgage problems, across all economic spectrums, signed mortgages without consulting an attorney. Largest purchase of their life and they didn’t talk to an attorney?

From the other side, Marty Ummel, the plaintiff, left me a voicemail this afternoon. She’d read the story and called it a fair account of what happened yesterday, but she had this to add:

I thought it was fascinating the fact that the jurors would think that Mike had done such a fabulous job because he’d shown us houses! We could’ve had limo service and saved ourselves a lot of money on commission. Actually, I know the seller pays it. … I don’t know what my next step is but again, no regrets.

And housing bubble blogger Ben Jones posted a link to the story today, and I found a couple of his readers’ comments quite interesting:

Comment by Deon
I’m actually surprised the realtors’ association didn’t side with the plaintiffs for one reason — they’re essentially conceding that a realtor doesn’t do anything but jack up the price to make a commission. No legwork, no honesty, no investigation, no assistance. That’s been painfully obvious, but aren’t these people trying to sell a service on the belief you’ll do better buying or selling through them than doing it yourself? And yet here they are saying you’re supposed to do it yourself, anyway, and pay them 6% of an inflated price for it. So what, exactly, are they supposed to offer?

(And, yes, I know the answer is “nothing.” It’s more of a marketing question.)

Comment by aimeejd
I think that was the point the appraiser was making about this case being “lose-lose” for realtors in sense. Obviously, siding with the plaintiffs would have meant selling their fellow realor (sic) down the river; but by making the argument that he had no obligation to provide comps or guidance, they beg the question of exactly what purpose they DO serve. If I have to do all the research myself, what exactly am I paying this 3rd party that has interposed himself in the transaction for?

Add your voice to the debate; what’s your sense of what happened here? Send me an e-mail with your thoughts.


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