There is nothing more constant than change. And there is arguably no industry more prone to change than the American real estate market. From rapid technological advancements employed by real estate agents to the way consumers can view housing information, important progress is being made. And government should collaborate with real estate professionals to achieve consumer-friendly innovation.
In November 2020, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed on some changes that would advance greater transparency for consumers in local broker marketplaces. We agreed the changes were good, and NAR began to move them forward.
But when the DOJ suddenly balked at those changes in July, NAR continued with its work to implement changes it believed would be good for U.S. consumers and the market as a whole. Today, now a year later and following a favorable vote by our board of directors, those changes will take effect.
Monday’s vote solidifies and more explicitly states what is already the spirit and intent of the NAR Code of Ethics and local broker marketplace guidance regarding consumer transparency and broker participation.
We are in the business of serving consumers, and whatever our members can do to make the process more positive, more transparent and more efficient for our clients, we do.
Specifically, the changes reinforce that local marketplace participants do not represent brokerage services as free. They also guarantee compensations being offered to buyer’s agents are disclosed freely, openly and transparently.
Finally, the changes adopted Monday also ensure listings are never excluded from the results of a home search because of the amount of compensation being offered to buyer’s agents.
This is an example of how NAR works at an important crossroad of change for real estate. We provide guidance to many of the local multiple listing service broker marketplaces around the country that are hubs for America’s homebuyers and sellers, and the agents who help those consumers navigate all the choices that come with that.
These local broker marketplaces provide sellers equal access to the largest possible pool of potential buyers and create the greatest number of housing options for buyers in one place without hidden or extra costs.
This moment of change is not unique. NAR regularly reviews and actively works to adapt our guidance for these local marketplaces over time to ensure the best in equity, transparency, efficiency and choice for consumers. That’s a responsibility we take very seriously. Existing guidelines are always intended to work in the best interests of buyers and sellers, but sometimes a change is needed.
It’s disheartening, to say the least, that the DOJ continues to try to back out of our agreement to move positive consumer change forward. But that won’t stop NAR from proceeding to do the right thing to advance pro-consumer, pro-competitive local broker marketplaces for buyers, sellers and brokers.
Our latest changes to our guidance for local broker marketplaces are indicative of that: We will always put consumer interests first.
Charlie Oppler is the immediate past president of the National Association of Realtors in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.