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Byline: Michele Derus
MILWAUKEE _ It's the $60 billion question: Can consumers force the residential realty industry to be cheaper, faster and more transparent?
They sure can _ and they've already begun, several experts say.
Sixty billion dollars, the expected national tally of 2004 home sale commissions, exerts enough power to yank tradition out by its roots.
Consider the standard agent commission, 6 percent of selling price _ the norm for decades.
"Rates have dropped from 6 percent to about 5 percent in the last five years," said Steve Ozonian, national homeownership services executive for Bank of America, based in Charlotte, N.C.
Expect an even closer shave of future earnings, he told 200-some brokers at a December Wisconsin Realtors Association management conference.
"We've got a more focused consumer, and there's more focus on the consumer by alternative (business) models," Ozonian said.
Selling arrangements that change brokers' commission structures _ such as online enterprises, discount brokers, flat-fee servicers _ will grow from 1 percent to as much as 14 …