A few weeks ago, I put forth a few ideas on how to fix the real estate market. I invited readers to respond with their own suggestions. Here are some of their ideas (edited for space and clarity):

Comment: We could ask Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to purchase all the foreclosed homes.

Comment: I think the best way to stabilize (the housing market) is to get houses selling again. And the best way to get houses selling again is for the cities to lower the taxes levied based on a realistic assessment value. Also, if FHA would provide low interest loans for all buyers, homeowners as well as investors (I’m talking about loans in the 4 percent range) then the excess inventory would dry up and prices would go up. After a couple of years, that interest rate could increase a little bit. But rather than selling t-bonds and t-bills, use that money directly to finance home loans.

Comment: Please look into the changing real estate market and how pre-sale inspections help home sellers – they do help expedite and sell homes in this slow market. There are very few buyers, lots of listings and you need to inspect, repair, and/or disclose problems to prevent the dreaded deal killers. If you’re serious about selling or helping someone sell their property, it’s stupid not too do a prelisting home inspection. You’ll get a big bang for little bucks.

In a recent column, a reader asked how she could file a complaint against her agent. Jann Clark, CEO of the Southern Maryland Association of Realtors, offered some thoughts (which I’ve edited for length and clarity) on what would and would not happen if you filed a complaint with a Realtor association:

Comment: Local Associations of Realtors are responsible for enforcing the Realtors’ code of ethics. The code of ethics imposes duties above and in addition to those imposed by law or regulation which apply only to real estate professionals who choose to become Realtors.

Many difficulties between real estate professionals result from misunderstanding, miscommunication, or lack of adequate communication. If you have a problem with a real estate professional, you may want to speak with them or with a principal broker in the firm. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action.

If, after discussing matters with your real estate professional or a principal broker in that firm, you are still not satisfied and you still feel you have a grievance, you may want to consider filing an ethics complaint. Only Realtors are subject to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Realtors. If the real estate professional (or their broker) you are dealing with is not a Realtor, your only recourse may be the [state] Real Estate Board or Commission.

Who Determines Realtor Code of Ethics Violations?

Boards and associations of Realtors determine whether the code of ethics has been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. Those decisions can only be made by the licensing department in your state or the courts.

Boards of Realtors can discipline Realtors for violating the code of ethics. Typical forms of discipline include attendance at courses and seminars designed to increase Realtors’ understanding of the ethical duties or other responsibilities of real estate professionals. They may also be reprimanded, fined, or their membership can be suspended or terminated for serious or repeated violations, but they cannot require Realtors to pay money to parties filing ethics complaints, award "punitive damages," and cannot suspend or revoke a real estate professional’s license.

Dec. 17, 2008.