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The NAR Settlement.
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·2 min read

The recent settlement involving the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has garnered significant attention across the real estate industry and beyond. This agreement, similar to those previously reached by Anywhere, RE/MAX, and KW, extends nationwide and has sparked widespread discussion and speculation about its implications for the future of real estate transactions in the United States.

At the heart of this settlement are new rules that aim to transform several aspects of how real estate transactions are conducted, particularly focusing on the listings placed on multiple listing services (MLS). One of the key changes is the prohibition of mandatory offers of compensation to buyer brokers by listing brokers or sellers. Additionally, the settlement dictates that broker compensation cannot be disclosed on MLS listings, aiming to disrupt traditional practices that have been criticized for inflating housing costs.

Contrary to some dramatic headlines suggesting the end of the 6% commission standard and a complete overhaul of the real estate business model, the settlement is unlikely to bring about such radical changes. The rules do restrict the display of compensation offers on MLSs, but they do not eliminate the possibility of brokers making compensation offers through other channels. In fact, the agreement allows for the continuation of compensation offers off the MLS, provided they are disclosed to sellers and approved in writing.

The settlement also touches on the practice of steering, where buyer brokers might favor properties that offer higher compensation. Despite changes intended to make compensation practices more transparent, the settlement does not fundamentally alter the incentives for steering. Real estate agents can still inquire directly with listing agents about compensation for properties not explicitly detailing it on the MLS, ensuring that the practice of steering, albeit potentially more cumbersome, remains viable.

From a broader perspective, the settlement represents a compromise that, while introducing some reforms, preserves much of the existing framework of real estate transactions. Critics argue that the changes are not sufficient to significantly impact home prices, commission rates, or the overall structure of the industry. They suggest that the real estate market will quickly adapt to these new rules without significant shifts in practice.

In conclusion, while the NAR settlement introduces several new regulations aimed at increasing transparency and fairness in real estate transactions, its actual impact on the industry's foundational practices is likely to be limited. The settlement may lead to some adjustments in how transactions are conducted and how information is shared, but the core mechanics of buying and selling real estate, including the role of commissions and the practice of steering, remain largely unchanged. The real estate industry is known for its resilience and adaptability, and it is expected to navigate these changes with minimal disruption to the traditional ways of conducting business.