July 25, 2024

Major Real Estate Commission Overhaul Set to Reshape Housing Market


A seismic shift in the real estate industry’s commission structure is underway, with significant implications for homebuilders and consumers alike. This week, Compass (COMP) made headlines by agreeing to a $57.5 million settlement to resolve antitrust claims related to commissions, marking a landmark development in the wake of the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) recent $418 million settlement.

The NAR settlement, which addresses allegations of industry collusion to inflate agent fees, is heralded as a victory for consumers. By decoupling buyer and seller agent fees, it promises to usher in a new era of transparency in commission structures, ultimately leading to cost reductions for homebuyers.

Experts believe that this shift could reshape the housing market in a manner not witnessed in over half a century. Since the 1950s, US Realtor commissions have remained entrenched at 5% to 6%, typically divided between the seller’s and buyer’s agents, with the seller bearing the brunt of the expense.

The newfound transparency is expected to empower buyers, enabling them to negotiate fees more effectively or even opt to forgo the use of agents altogether. In contrast to the US, where nearly 90% of homebuyers utilize agents, buyer agent usage is much lower in other countries, averaging around 33%.

Advocates argue that the overhaul is likely to drive down fee costs significantly for buyers. Currently, US commission rates rank among the highest globally, with commissions on a $500,000 home sale amounting to approximately $25,000 to $30,000, compared to just $6,500 in the UK.

As a result, the total commission pool, currently standing at $100 billion nationwide, could see a substantial reduction to $70 billion. While this bodes well for consumers, it presents a potential challenge for real estate agents, particularly those starting out. Established residential real estate brokerages may also face pressure to adapt to these transformative changes as they unfold in the coming year.

The overhaul of the real estate commission structure is poised to usher in a new era of transparency and affordability for homebuyers, while also presenting challenges and opportunities for industry stakeholders in the evolving landscape of the housing market.

Financial Desk

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