DOJ VS. NAR impacts on Salem Oregon real estate agents


Recently the DOJ announced an anti-trust lawsuit against the National Association of REALTORS for anti-competitive policies.   At issue were the lack of transparency around buyer agent commissions, telling buyers their buyer agents are “free,” non-MLS agents not having lockbox access to show homes, and being able to screen out listings based on commissions.   Not surprisingly, the NAR announced a settlement with the DOJ and agreed to amend their policies.

Consumers will soon see buyer agent commissions displayed on listings such as Zillow and Redfin as allowed by this lawsuit.  The theory being that once buyers see how much a buyer agent is making, then they will want to have a say in that fee since it is wrapped into the total home price that a buyer pays.  In Oregon and a few other states, rebating isn’t allowed so that negotiation won’t happen here, but I can see buyers negotiating to reduce a fee or waive a portion of their fee to give back to a seller to make their offer more competitive.  Buyers will need to look at those amounts and decide if you feel your buyer agent is worth that much.  The answer might be yes or it might be no, but now you will have more information in order to make that decision.

Buyer agents have never been free as our fees were paid by the listing agent and wrapped into the sales price of the home. Buyers will no longer be able to say their services are free making it clear to consumers that the fee is integrated into the purchase price for clarity.  This will be a good change as many consumers aren’t clear how agents are paid.  While I find that most buyers have been interviewing agents, this fee will be an important discussion to have with buyer agents during the interview process.

I’m not aware of any agent screening homes based on commission in our area, and quite frankly since sites like Zillow have taken off, I’m not sure how an agent would hide a lower commission offering from a client anyway. It isn’t like they wouldn’t see it on a real estate portal so I don’t think this would have any effect on consumers.

Non-MLS agents having access to lockboxes isn’t new in our area, but it is a problem in some jurisdictions.  I deal with that all of the time and I just have to get a picture ID and verify that they are a real estate licensee in order to give them access via a lockbox. This particular issue won’t change anything about how we do business here since we already work with agents outside the WVMLS all of the time anyway.

What will the DOJ VS. NAR impacts on Salem Oregon real estate agents? Overall, these changes are good for better transparency of how real estate fees flow through transactions and what buyers are paying for services in the form of an increased purchase price for buyer agent services.  This is one step toward pushing buyers to pay for their own representation and sellers paying for their representation, which is honestly how it should be.