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Dallas Morning News Endorses Frisco Proposition 2
Friday, 15 April 2005

The Dallas Morning News strongly endorses Becka family proposed Frisco Charter Revision to require builder disclosure before any money changes hands.

A Split Decision: Frisco voters should be leery of bonds for home builders in Prop 1, but they can still send a message with Prop 2

Prop 2 deserves support
But make no mistake, the Beckas and TBYR are right about the need for Texas to come to the defense of home buyers. That is why we strongly recommend that voters in Frisco approve Proposition 2.

Dallas Morning News

A Split Decision: Frisco voters should be leery of bonds for home builders in Prop 1, but they can still send a message with Prop 2


Carol Becka says she and her family have a "lemon of a home" and that they are "trying to make lemonade for everyone." We applaud her selflessness, but a more appropriate description of her family's efforts to hold home builders more accountable in Frisco would be that they are trying to "sell" lemonade to everyone. After all, higher standards come with a price, and what is most disturbing about Proposition 1 on the Frisco ballot is that no one seems to know what that price might be.

That is why, despite the immense and compelling evidence that the Take Back Your Rights group presents on the sad state of regulation in the Texas home building industry, we cannot recommend that Frisco voters pass Proposition 1.

Too many unknowns for Prop 1
That said, we do not echo some of the concerns raised by local politicians about the proposal, which would require builders to post $250,000 bonds for individual new homes or $2 million bonds for a large group of homes. The city could find a way to make these bonds possible, and we doubt residential building would screech to a halt, as critics suggest.

But it is complicated, a bit like requiring a home warranty for five years and putting the city in charge of enforcing it. That would have an unforeseeable impact that would be irreversible for two years if approved as a charter amendment.

Yes, other states and cities require various levels of bonds and insurance, but there simply is not an apples-to-apples comparison to be found. The Frisco bond requirement would be steep, and it would raise the cost of homes. Some builders would surely avoid Frisco, which could have a negative impact on creating a variety of options in a city that struggles to provide affordable work-force housing.

Prop 2 deserves support
But make no mistake, the Beckas and TBYR are right about the need for Texas to come to the defense of home buyers. That is why we strongly recommend that voters in Frisco approve Proposition 2. Voters should not let their understandable apprehension about one proposal get in the way of strong support for the other.

Proposition 2 would require builders and buyers to sign a disclosure form early in the process, before any money changes hands. The builder would have to make clear any language in the final contract that would require nonbinding arbitration, often referred to as "alternative conflict resolution."

People like "alternatives," but this clause really means that a buyer gives up his or her right to sue a builder. Instead, unresolved complaints would be decided in arbitration, which critics say is a deeply flawed process that is costly to consumers and tilted in favor of builders.

Reforming that process requires state action, but passing a strong disclosure policy would send a message to lawmakers that Frisco voters want to protect consumers from a system that so shamelessly shields builders.

No matter the outcome at the polls, one piece of advice from the Beckas is golden, and residents should be grateful for it. Asked whether having a lawyer review their contract before they signed would have prevented their troubles, the Beckas, their attorney and other members of the TBYR group all nodded aggressively, albeit, a little regretfully.

Even though Frisco residents should not volunteer their city as a guinea pig in a high-stakes battle with builders, they should embrace the opportunity to help consumers look out for themselves.

Thursday, April 14, 2005Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/collin/opinion/stories/041405dnccofriscoprops.a839fe1.html
 
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