Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

T3 Sixty will not publish 2024 rankings of brokerages

Prudent.

Another miss

Anybody else getting a ton of calls/texts/forwards from your “non-real estate” friends about the NAR settlement? My friends are saying that a lot of their social media feeds are crazy with anti-REALTOR messages. Mostly in their social media feeds, with a ton of memes and “quick takes”. I think all of us are still digesting these changes but in the end as Redfin CEO, Glenn Kelman wrote in a recent blog post (NAR Settlement: Kaboom!) “…perception is reality…”

“Even if the letter of the settlement allows for cooperation, how the settlement is perceived may still re-shape agent attitudes about cooperation, and consumer attitudes about fees. The result could be that agent-to-agent cooperation on fees is weakened but not killed. “

Glenn Kelman, Redfin

I want to say upfront that I think NAR did a tremendous job on the settlement for their membership. But, and I may be beating a dead horse here, this feels like another miss in messaging/marketing from NAR. Based on what I’ve seen on Twitter and elsewhere NAR took everyone by surprise, even at their own event, AEI.

How about pumping the brakes a bit? Create some good content that puts a positive spin on things. Give all those assets to share with your local MLS and associations (so they can pass it on) and mirror that with some sort of nationwide “we hear you” campaign.

But releasing the news when all of their association leadership was offsite? Plus, has anyone seen anyone from NAR in the national news?

WTF?

NAR settles….

Powerful Realtor Group Agrees to Slash Commissions to Settle Lawsuits

“The settlement includes many significant rule changes. It bans N.A.R. from establishing any sort of rules that would allow a seller’s agent to set compensation for a buyer’s agent, a practice that critics say has long led to “steering,” in which buyers’ agents direct their clients to pricier homes in a bid to collect a bigger commission check. 

And on the online databases used to buy and sell homes, the M.L.S., the settlement requires that any fields displaying broker compensation be eliminated entirely. It also places a blanket ban on the longtime requirement that agents subscribe to multiple listing services in the first place in order to offer or accept compensation for their work.”

Debra Kamin, New York Times

Story is developing. I’ll try and get more details.

Industry Relations Podcast: DOJ Drops Statement of Interest in the Nosalek Case

What impact will the Department of Justice’s stance on the MLS settlement have on the future of buying and selling houses? In this important episode of “Industry Relations,” Rob and Greg talk about a big message from the Department of Justice (DOJ) about the MLS PIN settlement. The DOJ seems to want the court to say no to the settlement. Selling agents might not make as much money as before, and buyers agents might need to show why they’re worth their commission more than ever. It’s time to start thinking about how we can prepare for change and innovate new approaches in serving buyers and seller.

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DOJ urges industry to make a clean cut. Wants Buyers to negotiate compensation directly with their agent.

Well we were all speculating whether or not the DOJ would give any clear direction on how they picture compensation to be handled thru the MLS. The DOJ did, and it’s a whooper. Basically they don’t think reducing offers of compensation down to zero matter at all. They want the industry to make a full break from seller setting the buyers agent commission at all. And site “steering” as a concern. So, more like a commercial model. This is something listeners of Industry Relations have heard Rob Hahn echo since the beginning, that steering was the main issue.

In a huge surprise this “Statement of Interest” references the Industry Relations podcast and Rob, myself and Ed Zorn directly,

“Rob Hahn & Greg Robertson interviewing Ed Zorn (VP & General Counsel atCalifornia Regional MLS), Burnett v. NAR: The Lawsuit That Could Upend the Housing Market, Industry Relations (Oct. 18, 2023), starting at 43:40, www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw39NB3w_0o&t=11s (“You do realize under this system (of the seller paying the buyer’s agent directly inside the contract) you do realize a closing statement at a title company or an escrow company looks 100% identical as it does today. With both commissions on the seller side. Nothing changes. The only thing that changes is the number that shows up for the buyer’s agent in that closing statement was negotiated between the buyer directly and the buyer’s agent and had nothing to do with the seller or the listing agent. That’s the one thing that’s different.”

STATEMENT OF INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES, Department of Justice (DOJ)

I’m not sure whether to be honored or scared shitless that the DOJ listens to our podcast!

For clarity I’ve embedded the YouTube video so that you can see what the DOJ was referencing on our podcast, I started it a bit earlier so you can get some context ( I also think this is good primer to understand what the DOJ is asking for.)

Rob and I record our Industry Relations podcast today at 10AM. Should be a good.

HomeServices wants SCOTUS to decide

HomeServices wants US Supreme Court to weigh Sitzer | Burnett case

“On Friday, Feb. 2, HomeServices of America filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for a “writ of certiorari,” asking the court to review an August ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirming a lower district court ruling that HomeServices can’t enforce arbitration agreements signed by seller clients of its franchisees because the contracts the sellers signed were not directly with HomeServices.”

Andrea Bramila, Inman News

Interesting angle. Doesn’t really go to the heart of the case, but more that they, (HSofA) shouldn’t be included in the case at all.

KW settles for $70M

Keller Williams settles Sitzer, Moehrl commission suits for $70M

“If approved by the court, the settlement means Keller Williams will pay substantially less than it could have to resolve Sitzer | Burnett. On Oct. 31, in a historic verdict, a jury found that Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Anywhere, the National Association of Realtors, HomeServices of America and two of its subsidiaries, BHH Affiliates and HSF Affiliates, conspired to inflate broker commission rates paid by homesellers. The jury awarded $1.78 billion in damages to a class of approximately 500,000 Missouri homeowners. If that award stands, it would be trebled by law to more than $5.3 billion.

The deals leave NAR, HomeServices of America and two of its subsidiaries, BHH Affiliates and HSF Affiliates, as the remaining defendants in the case.”

ANDREA V. BRAMBILA, INMAN NEWS

I’ve been thinking about this for the last week and a couple things stand out. I guess you could say it was shrewd of KW to see if the case was won before settling (interesting to think of NAR and BHH/HSF through that lens). Hard to say if the settlement would have been lower if they had settled earlier. But $70M feels about right. BHH/HSF are probably talking longer due to their corporate structure.

That would leave NAR standing alone. People who would know tell me that their case for appeal is pretty strong based on upon the documents being filed by NAR. That may be true, but the genie is out of the bottle. More and more of people I meet and hear I’m “in real estate” ask me about being “over-charged” for commissions. I still think settling (and sooner than later) is the right move.

Brutal

Authenticity, CoStar and the craps table.

If you haven’t caught our last episode of Industry Relations that just dropped today you hear Rob talk about the desire for industry entities such as NAR to stop the corporate word salad and speak authentically. This conversation made me think about an article and podcast that caught my attention. It was in relation to the letter (email?) Andy Florance, CEO of CoStar, sent regarding a few statements made at NAR NXT. The entire letter is available (and link to the podcast) so you can go read it here at:

COSTAR CEO SENDS MESSAGE TO WSJ & REALTOR.COM

In the letter Mr. Florance make a few statements:

He calls out Bob Evans, VP of Industry Relations at realtor.com, for making false statements “that Homes.com was working against real estate agent“.

He (Andy F.) takes full responsibility for CoStar News naming Sitzer/Burnett plaintiff attorney Michael Ketchmark, “newsmaker of the week” and states “It will not happen again.” [Small quibble; Ketchmark was named “Person of the week”]

He also points out the fact realtor.com and the WSJ is owned by the same company and then makes a damn good point. Here’s a quote from his letter:

Many people mistakenly believe that Realtor.com is part of NAR. In fact, it is not, it was sold years ago and is now owned by News Corp. The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com are sister companies. They work together closely. The folks that call the shots for The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com are one and the same.

The Wall Street Journal has been prolifically writing more than most about theSitzer/Burnett class action lawsuit and the NAR defeat. They have published article titles such as “Home Sellers Take On the Realtors Cartel”, “Almost No One Pays a 6% Real-Estate Commission-Except Americans”, “The Upending of One of America’s Most Popular Professions”, “The Way You Pay to Buy or Sell a Home is About To Change”, “Jury Finds Realtors Conspired to Keep Commissions High”, “Real-Estate Commissions Could Be the Next Fee on the Chopping Block”, “Realtors Face an Antitrust Reckoning” and more.

Letter from Andy Florance, CEO & Founder of CoStar

Zing! Pow! Authentic enough for you yet? Love him or not Andy Florance is not in his box seats, he is on the field, and I’m here for it.

As a prolific player of craps I have an analogy for you. In the game of craps you have the concept of “right way” and “wrong way” bettors. In simple terms “right way bettors” are betting on the shooter, and “wrong way bettors” are betting “against the shooter”. When a hot craps game is going on and a “wrong way bettor” shows up at the table everyone gets pissed off. They think having a “wrong way bettor” at the table brings “bad juju”. CoStar, in my view, has been perceived by the industry as a “wrong way bettor”. This was due to the fact that CoStar’s business model does better with the elimination or neutering of buy side compensation. And guess what? It’s looking like Andy made the right bet.

“7 OUT!”

Here’s the thing as these so called “portal wars” heat up. There are many things that we can argue about regarding the business models of all the portals. Dual agency, agent responsiveness, etc. But the Sitzer/Burnett ruling and all the copy cat lawsuits are making it very clear that the game has changed. CoStar isn’t the wrong way bettor any longer.

We need to move on. CoStar, Zillow, Realtor.com are all going to have to adjust. We as an industry are going to have to adjust.

We aren’t play craps anymore. Feels to me more like poker.

Anyone else seeing these?

Just as predicted these copycat lawsuits are gonna be everywhere. 😖

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