In the midst of an ongoing antitrust trial that has the potential to reshape how real estate agents are compensated, it’s crucial to stand behind our industry professionals and offer guidance as they navigate this uncertain terrain.
The trial, which features prominent real estate figures defending their training practices regarding commissions, raises important questions about the future of the real estate profession. Here, we offer support and action points for real estate agents to consider as they await the final outcome of this pivotal trial. We’ve got a ways to go in all this, so while we wait – let’s get back to some basics.
The Trial Unveiled: Commissions and Antitrust Policies
The Sitzer | Burnett trial has cast a spotlight on the commission structures and antitrust policies held by some of the biggest names in real estate, including Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Anywhere, and HomeServices. The trial’s focus on training materials and presentation slides has triggered discussions about the role of real estate agents in adhering to these policies.
Understanding the Participation Rule
Central to this trial is the Participation Rule, also known as NAR’s cooperative compensation rule. This rule mandates that listing brokers make an offer of compensation to buyer brokers for submitting a listing to a Realtor-affiliated multiple listing service. The outcome of this trial could significantly impact the way these rules are applied in the industry.
Antitrust Compliance Guidelines and Practices
During the trial, it was revealed that NAR’s “Antitrust Compliance Guide” advises its members to establish fees independently without consulting or discussing with competitors. Additionally, agents are cautioned against making statements that could be perceived as anti-competitive.
7 Action Steps to Support Our Agents
- Don’t Panic: There’s a lot of “sky is falling” conversations happening out there and you hear the panic in agent’s voices when they call in for coaching, especially on this topic. The verdict is still pending on much of this and as I often tell agents, panic doesn’t serve you. In fact, it robs you of your bandwidth to process information, make decisions, concentrate on the now, and focus – and you need ALL of those faculties to stay in the game today.
- Lean into Leadership to Stay Informed: To keep that panic from setting in – do keep an eye on what is coming out in our industry news, but lean into your broker and leadership to help you decipher what that means for you RIGHT NOW – not what will happen a month from now or a year from now – but in the here and now. While it’s important to be PREPARED, it is also crucial these days to stay PRESENT.
- Advocate for Best Practices: Encourage your brokerage to provide clear guidance on antitrust compliance and best practices to protect agents and clients alike.
- Embrace Transparency: A big part of these legal wranglings is wrapped around what the plaintiffs present as a lack of transparency. Instead of railing against it, promote transparency in your business dealings in every way possible, especially in commission discussions. Ensure that you are having clear conversations with clients so that they are well-informed about the value you bring to the table, what your commission is, how you work, and what their choices are.
- Stay Adaptive: Be prepared to adapt your business practices if necessary, depending on the trial’s outcome and any ensuing industry changes. The truth is that our industry is ALWAYS changing, maybe not as dramatically or in headlines as we are seeing right now, but as a whole, we are a resilient bunch. Lean into your ability to be agile and adaptive to whatever comes your way.
- Continue Providing Value: Remember that your expertise, negotiation skills, and commitment to clients are invaluable. Focus on delivering exceptional service to your clients.
- Get Better Skilled: This is the most important time to master your skills in this business. ESPECIALLY your communication skills. Your Listing Conversation and Buyer Agency Conversation have both got to be as strong, accurate, engaging, and effective as you can possibly make them. This means you need to lean into learning more than ever. It’s THAT important.
Final Thoughts (For Now)
While the Sitzer | Burnett trial has created uncertainty within the real estate industry, it’s essential to support and empower real estate agents as they navigate these challenges. Agents play a vital role in facilitating real estate transactions, and their commitment to ethical and transparent practices is crucial.
As the trial progresses, stay informed, adapt as needed, and continue providing the highest level of service to your clients. By upholding ethical standards and advocating for best practices, real estate professionals can continue to thrive and make a positive impact in the industry, regardless of the trial’s outcome. Together, we can ensure that the real estate profession remains a trusted and valuable resource for buyers and sellers alike.
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