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How the NAR Settlement Benefits Snapdoor Sellers

Published by

Bob Mathew

Published on

5/1/2024

By now you have probably heard about a landmark rule change in the real estate industry that promises to save homeowners a lot of money when selling their homes. The press has oversimplified the story, however, and sellers need a more in-depth understanding to actually benefit from the new rules. Here’s what you need to know.

The Old Rules

For decades, the listing agreement between a home seller and their listing agent specified an overall commission amount of 5% to 6% of the gross sales price. From this amount, sellers usually agreed to give 2.5% to 3% to the buyer’s agent. So on a $1M house, a seller would be paying $25-30K to their own agent and $25-30K to the buyer’s agent. This commission arrangement – both sides paid by the seller – over decades became a hard-fast norm, and was almost never negotiated.

What Happened

Even as home prices kept rising, this practice stayed in place. Responding to political pressure, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) made it publicly known that it was focusing its attention on the practice. This put pressure on the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”), the organization that sets and enforces the rules that govern how every U.S. realtor operates. Lawyers representing sellers in class action suits against the NAR followed the DOJ’s lead and argued that the practice of sellers having to pay both sides of the commission – the buyer agent’s commission as well as their own agent’s commission – kept the total commission artificially, persistently, and illegally high nationwide.

Hoping to stave off regulation, in March of 2024 the NAR settled with these sellers and their attorneys. The settlement was covered widely by the mainstream media. Unfortunately, the media framed the story as if it would automatically lead to a drastic reduction in real estate commissions, essentially claiming they’d be cut in half. Stock prices of the major brokerages and real estate portals tumbled, even while the NAR was telling its agents and brokers “don’t worry, nothing will fundamentally change."

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What the Settlement Actually Changes

Before

  • There was no required agreement between a buyer and their agent specifying compensation.
  • In the standard listing agreement, the listing agent would take 5 - 6% from the seller and offer some percentage, usually 2.5 - 3%, to pay the buyer’s agent (if the buyer had one).

Now

  • A buyer’s agent is now required to have an agreement with their buyer, before showing any homes, specifying their compensation. 
  • In the new listing agreement, the listing agent will specify their compensation from the seller. This will likely remain at 2.5 - 3%. 
  • In the new listing agreement, if they choose to, the listing agent can optionally contribute to the buyer agent’s compensation, but they don’t have to at all.

How Home Sellers Could Benefit

So what’s the real upshot of the settlement? Reducing commissions by half is unlikely to happen, since there’s no automatic incentive for sales agents to change their traditional behavior. And there’s no real requirement for transparency, so each listing agent can set their own rules. So it is actually an open question how commissions will be affected.

Nonetheless, by requiring that seller-side commissions be separated from buyer-side commissions, the settlement gives a fantastic opportunity for sellers to earn more if they use transparent platforms like Snapdoor

How Snapdoor Benefits Sellers

Snapdoor is devoted to transparent competition among buyers. In Snapdoor’s bidding process, everything is laid on the table in the end, so buyers and sellers can be aware of all offers in all their dimensions, including how much would be paid by whom if an offer is accepted.

  • Snapdoor makes visible to all parties the optional maximum amount the seller is willing to contribute towards the buyer’s agent’s commission. (Again, this limit can be 0%, the standard buyer agent commission of 2.5 - 3%, or somewhere inbetween.) With other sites and brokerages, this optional contribution is often hidden from buyers and sellers.
  • Snapdoor is a platform with a transparent bidding process. With Snapdoor a buyer can make an offer that specifies how much of the buyer agent’s they want the seller to pay. So the seller's contribution becomes an explicit, transparent part of their offer. This is unique.
  • Snapdoor ranks the offers that come in, so the more a buyer’s agent asks of the seller, the less desirable and lower ranked that offer will be. In a recent sale on Snapdoor, 3 out of 7 buyer agents lowered their commission ask in order to make the purchase.
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Conclusion

Unlike what the press has reported, the recent NAR settlement provides no guarantee that commissions will go down. What it has done has provided more opportunities for buyer agent commissions to be negotiated. Snapdoor is a platform built around transparency, putting these commission variables into the light of day, where they can be evaluated by everyone. When you are selling a home, at the end of the day what matters most is how much profit you walk away with. Snapdoor exposes all of these variables and makes them part of the bidding process, to ensure you make the most.

Transparency, communication, and strategic decision-making are key to a fruitful and rewarding selling experience. By collaborating with Snapdoor and devising a tailored strategy that aligns with their goals, sellers can navigate the realm of buyer agent commission with confidence.

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