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Realtors Reach Settlement That Will Change How Americans Buy and Sell Homes

The Wall Street Journal

March 15, 2024

Groundbreaking $418 million legal agreement could drive down commission rates and shrink the number of real-estate agents

The National Association of Realtors has reached a nationwide settlement of claims that the industry conspired to keep agent commissions high, it said Friday, a deal set to usher in the biggest changes to how Americans buy and sell homes in decades.

The $418 million agreement will make it easier for home buyers to negotiate fees with their own agents and could lead more buyers to forgo using agents altogether, which has the potential to drive down commission rates and force hundreds of thousands of agents out of the industry.

NAR agreed to abandon longstanding industry rules that have required most home-sale listings to include an upfront offer telling buyers’ agents how much they will get paid. Under a system in place for a generation, sellers have typically set buyers’ agents fees. Consumer advocates say the arrangement has prevented buyers from negotiating to save money and kept commissions in the U.S. higher than in most of the world.

. . .

“Buyers were cut out pretty much entirely from negotiating commissions and I think this will invite them under that tent,” said Benjamin Brown, co-chair of the antitrust practice at Cohen Milstein, one of the firms representing plaintiffs in the Chicago case.

Read Realtors Reach Settlement That Will Change How Americans Buy and Sell Homes.