Two Big Changes to Real Estate Coming This August From The NAR Settlement

Two Big Changes to Real Estate Coming This August From The NAR Settlement

  • Liz Kroft
  • 06/6/24

Understanding the NAR Settlement and Upcoming Changes in Real Estate This August

The real estate industry is undergoing significant changes as the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) implements new regulations following a substantial antitrust settlement. This article outlines the key aspects of the NAR settlement and the forthcoming changes in August, providing crucial insights for homebuyers and sellers.


Background: What Is The NAR Settlement?

On March 15, 2024, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced a $418 million settlement in response to a nationwide antitrust lawsuit. The lawsuit accused Realtors® of conspiring to inflate commission rates by lacking transparency regarding buyer’s agent compensation. This landmark settlement is a pivotal step towards fostering greater transparency and competition in the real estate industry.

According to the NAR, this settlement aims to address long-standing concerns about the opacity of commission structures. The organization's statement emphasizes, "This agreement is a significant move towards ensuring that commission practices are clear and understandable to all parties involved in a real estate transaction" NAR Settlement Announcement.


|  RELATED - What We Know About The NAR Settlement: A Local Realtor's Guide


Current Real Estate Compensation Structure

Currently, when a home is listed, the seller’s agent negotiates their commission with the seller, which often includes a portion allocated to the buyer’s agent. These commission details are typically outlined in the listing agreement, buyer’s agency agreement, and purchase and sale agreement. However, this practice has led to widespread misconceptions that commission rates are fixed, limiting transparency and competition.

This existing structure has been criticized for its lack of clarity. A report by Inman News highlights that many homebuyers and sellers are unaware that commission rates are negotiable, contributing to an environment where commission rates remain artificially high. This settlement is designed to rectify these issues by promoting a more transparent negotiation process.


What’s Changing in August?

No Advertising of Buyer’s Agent Compensation on MLS:

One of the significant changes taking effect is the prohibition of advertising buyer’s agent compensation on REALTOR®-owned Multiple Listing Services (MLS). This change is intended to eliminate the false perception that commission rates are non-negotiable and to encourage more direct and transparent discussions about compensation between agents and their clients.

A statement from the NAR clarifies, "By removing the option to advertise compensation on MLS, we aim to foster a more transparent and competitive market where all parties have a clear understanding of the commission structures" NAR Compensation Policy.



Requirement for Buyer’s Agency Agreements

One of the most significant changes taking effect in August is the mandatory requirement for buyers to sign buyer’s agency agreements. This measure is designed to ensure that buyers fully understand the dynamics of their relationship with their real estate agent, including the obligations and compensation structures involved.

When is a Buyer’s Agency Agreement Needed?

A buyer’s agency agreement is required at the outset of a working relationship between a buyer and their real estate agent. This agreement must be in place before any significant services are provided by the agent, such as property showings, contract negotiations, or any other activities that would legally bind the buyer. The requirement aims to clarify the expectations and responsibilities from the beginning, avoiding any confusion or misunderstandings as the homebuying process progresses.

Who Needs to Sign a Buyer’s Agency Agreement?

The buyer’s agency agreement must be signed by both the homebuyer and the buyer’s agent. The buyer’s signature indicates their consent and understanding of the terms and conditions set forth in the agreement, while the agent’s signature represents their commitment to those terms. This dual-signature requirement formalizes the relationship and ensures that both parties are legally bound to the agreement.

What Does a Buyer’s Agency Agreement Include?

A comprehensive buyer’s agency agreement typically includes several key elements:

  1. Scope of Services: A detailed description of the services the agent will provide, such as property searches, arranging viewings, negotiating offers, and assisting with closing procedures.

  2. Duration of Agreement: The time period during which the agreement is valid, including start and end dates. This ensures that both parties are aware of the timeframe for their working relationship.

  3. Compensation Structure: Clear information on how the buyer’s agent will be compensated. This section outlines whether the seller will pay the commission, if it will be split, or if the buyer will need to pay directly. It may also include details about any retainer fees or bonuses.

  4. Agent’s Duties and Responsibilities: A list of the agent’s obligations, including acting in the buyer’s best interests, maintaining confidentiality, and providing accurate information and professional advice.

  5. Buyer’s Responsibilities: The expectations placed on the buyer, such as communicating openly, being available for property viewings, and providing necessary documentation.

  6. Termination Clause: Conditions under which the agreement can be terminated by either party, including breach of contract or mutual agreement to end the relationship.

By requiring a formalized agreement, the new regulation aims to enhance transparency and build trust between buyers and their agents. This legal framework helps ensure that both parties are fully aware of their rights and obligations, which can prevent disputes and foster a smoother transaction process.

As noted by HousingWire, "Mandatory buyer’s agency agreements are a significant step towards demystifying the buyer-agent relationship, ensuring that buyers are well-informed about their agent’s role and compensation" HousingWire.


Implications for Homebuyers and Sellers

For Homebuyers:

The new regulations do not necessarily mean that homebuyers will be responsible for paying their agent’s commission directly. Sellers can still offer compensation through the listing agreement or negotiated credits. However, buyers need to be prepared for situations where sellers might choose not to offer any commission, which could require buyers to arrange compensation for their agents independently.

This shift emphasizes the importance of clear communication and negotiation. As Forbes notes, "Buyers must now engage more proactively in discussions about agent compensation, ensuring they understand and agree to the terms outlined in their buyer’s agency agreements."


For Home Sellers:

Sellers should consider the benefits of offering compensation to buyer’s agents, even with the new regulations. An experienced buyer’s agent can facilitate a smoother transaction, help ensure the deal closes on time, and protect the buyer’s rights. This can mitigate future claims from buyers who may feel disadvantaged if they lack adequate representation.

CNBC highlights that, "Offering competitive compensation to buyer’s agents can enhance the appeal of your property, ensuring that skilled professionals are motivated to bring qualified buyers to the table" CNBC Real Estate.


| RELATED - Pros and Cons of Paying Buyer's Agent Commissions: Key Considerations For Sellers


Key Takeaways

As the NAR implements these new regulations in August, staying informed and prepared is crucial for navigating the evolving real estate landscape. These changes aim to enhance transparency and fairness in the market, ensuring that all parties involved in real estate transactions have a clear understanding of commission structures and agent relationships. For more detailed information and guidance, refer to reputable sources and consult with experienced real estate professionals.

For further reading on the implications of these changes, visit the National Association of Realtors® and Inman News.




  1. National Association of Realtors®. "NAR Announces $418 Million Settlement in Antitrust Lawsuit." March 15, 2024.
  2. The Wall Street Journal. "Realtors Settle Antitrust Lawsuit Over Commission Rates." March 16, 2024.
  3. Inman News. "What the NAR Settlement Means for Buyer’s Agent Commissions." March 17, 2024.
  4. HousingWire. "Changes to Buyer’s Agent Compensation: What You Need to Know." March 18, 2024.
  5. Realtor Magazine. "Understanding the New Buyer’s Agency Agreement Requirement." March 19, 2024.
  6. Forbes. "How the NAR Settlement Affects Homebuyers." March 20, 2024.
  7. CNBC. "The Benefits of Offering Buyer’s Agent Commission as a Seller." March 21, 2024.

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