BuyersSellers March 29, 2024

Making Sense of the NAR Proposed Settlement: What it Really Means for WA Real Estate

The recently proposed settlement between the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) has captured the attention of media, home sellers, home buyers and real estate professionals across the country.

There has been much discussion and perhaps even more speculation over the future impacts of the settlement. So what implications does this settlement hold for us here in the Evergreen State?

The truth? Not much!

Let’s clarify: The Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) serves as our primary Multiple Listing Service here, and it operates as a Member-Owned MLS, distinct from any ownership ties to the NAR. Consequently, the lawsuit and settlement don’t directly pertain to our MLS and it’s practices. Nevertheless, it’s essential to acknowledge the repercussions of the lawsuit could still influence industry practices nationwide.

So, without delving too deeply into complexities or inundating you with information overload, let’s delve into the three key proposed changes from the lawsuit settlement, and how they may or may not impact real estate practices here in WA

Flexible Buyer Agent Compensation:

The proposed settlement advocates for the formal separation of Listing and Buyer agent compensation, rendering buyer agent compensation optional and open to negotiation.

Here we have already embraced this concept! The NWMLS empowers agents and clients to freely negotiate commissions. So, while this change may disrupt norms elsewhere, it’s simply business as usual for us.



Buyer Agency Agreements:

The proposal also suggests mandating buyer agency agreements.

Again, we are ahead of the game, as this is already in place with the NWMLS!  These agreements, delineate the buyer-agent relationship and ensure clarity regarding roles, responsibilities, and compensation expectations.



Changes to Buyer Agent Commission Listings:

Removing buyer agent commission from listings is the third of the proposed changes to practice (and perhaps the most debated by Real estate professionals)

Unlike in other regions, the NWMLS has already established clear guidelines regarding agent compensation. Thus, this proposed change isn’t something that has been considered necessary within the NWMLS yet. While it may cause ripples elsewhere, it’s not an immediate concern for us.



Inevitably, the mainstream media were hasty and hyperbolic with their reporting (who would have thought?!), and sensationalized the story. The truth, this is not the end of buyer representation in Real Estate. We’ve already got the practices in place to provide clear guidance and representation.