There's been a flurry of recent news surrounding the class action suits that are shaking up the real estate landscape. Let's take a minute to dive into the details and clear up some of the confusion surrounding commissions.
First, we have to dispel the misconception that sellers were ever obligated to provide direct payments to buyers' agents. That's simply not the case. Instead, market dynamics have shown that sellers' agents offering a portion of their own commission to motivate a buyer's agent to bring a buyer has been a highly effective strategy in marketing a home. These buyers' agent incentives have become a prevailing norm rather than a mandated rule.
Actually, back in the '90s, buyers' agents were known as sub-agents of the seller. Commission was generally distributed in the same way it is now except that buyers technically had no one representing their best interests. Policies changed to designate buyers' agents as having fiduciary duties to their clients while still having the opportunity to receive commissions from those sellers' agents who were offering it. This has been effective at protecting consumers on both sides of the transaction while ensuring that fees are paid in a way that doesn't negatively impact a buyer's ability to secure financing (details on that would be another lengthy blog post!). Still, it's easy to see how this complexity has been a source of confusion.
Now, when it comes to commissions, it's crucial to understand that they are and always have been negotiable. There's a range of options from different types of brokerages offering differing levels of service. While the market may have determined an average amount that many sellers and agents find reasonable, it's important to recognize that consumer choice and alternatives have always existed within the industry.
As for what brokers and agents do to earn their commission, it goes far beyond a mere fee. According to a 2022 NAR report*, homes without an agent tend to sell for approximately 35% less. Even after factoring in a 5-6% commission, sellers often find themselves with a significant 29-30% more in their pockets. Agents and brokers showcase their expertise as strategic advisors, marketing skills, transaction management and negotiation, all rolled into one.
So, why would the former home sellers in recent class action suits feel they overpaid? It may have been in part due to poor explanation of the process on the part of their agents, but more likely opportunistic attorneys (ironically, whose commissions on these suits typically range from 25-33%) who took advantage of a lack of clarity in the marketplace. This underscores the importance of transparency and understanding within the real estate industry to prevent misconceptions from taking root.
Looking ahead, we remain all in, continuously working hard on our clients' behalf. We're genuinely excited about any shifts in the industry that prioritize transparency—something we've always valued. Being a nimble, independent brokerage, we have a distinct advantage. No layers of red tape here, and no getting sidetracked by legal suits. Instead, we can continue to offer our undivided attention to our clients. Our adaptability allows us to swiftly embrace positive changes, ensuring a transparent and top-notch experience for our clients as the real estate landscape evolves. Cheers to a bright future! 🌟🏡
*2022 NAR Report