Opinion: Court DOJ’s decision is one of many pro-consumer moments
It is important on many levels that the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recent decision that it cannot renegotiate an agreement it reached with the National Association of Realtors was significant. It clearly states that when you enter into a legal binding agreement with the government, it must adhere to the terms as any other party. NAR has a path forward that allows it to work with the DOJ in good faith to codify changes that improve transparency for consumers.
NAR had already adopted clarifications to its guidance to local MLS broker markets to improve transparency for consumers prior to any guidance from the DOJ. These changes reinforced the need to disclose compensation offered buyer agents. Listings are not to be excluded in search results based upon the amount of compensation offered buyer agents. Buyer brokers cannot represent their services as gratuity.
NAR and federal government want better experiences for consumers. While there may be disagreements in the details, our overall purpose and direction as well as our intentions remain the exact same.
NAR and Realtors work together daily to promote policies that increase affordability and equity in housing. Fair housing initiatives are promoted, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. Realtors can offer professional, expert guidance to help consumers navigate some of the most important and complex transactions in their lives.
NAR supports policies and practices that make homeownership more affordable and accessible. For example, the U.S. model for broker compensation plays a crucial role in making homeownership more affordable for more Americans. Listing brokers offering compensation to buyer brokers to find a buyer for their listings can help homebuyers have a better chance of professional representation and being able to afford a home. This encourages more brokers and makes the transaction more efficient, equitable, and smoother. Sellers have access to the largest number of buyers.
NAR believes so strongly in the benefits offered consumers by local broker markets that it adopted a guideline called the Clear Cooperation Policy (CCP). Instead of allowing certain listings to be marketed to as “pocket listings”, which are secretive listings that are only seen by a few buyers, the CCP requires that all publicly marketed properties be listed on a local broker market within one business day. This increases the number of buyers who have equal access to efficient and transparent markets.
Housing equity: Advancing
NAR and Realtors both believe that everyone has the right and obligation to own housing without discrimination. NAR works closely with policy, industry, civic, and business partners to promote homeownership for those who were historically excluded. NAR worked with policymakers to allocate $25 Billion to affordable housing production for low income Americans and $1.75 Billion in grants to state and local governments to help create affordable housing solutions.
NAR partners with organizations like the Mortgage Bankers Association and NAACP as part of the 3 by 30 Coalition. This coalition is committed to increasing Black homeownership by 3,000,000 net homeowners by 2030. The Fair Housing Action Plan was created by NAR. It emphasizes accountability, culture shift, and training to ensure that 1.5 million Realtors in the NAR are doing all they can to protect housing rights.
Millions of homeowners are served every day by agents who are Realtors in America. NAR members assist consumers in navigating the legal, financial and community aspects of buying or selling a home. This is often one of the most complicated transactions in their lives. Today’s market is particularly challenging for first-time buyers and sellers, due to the rising home prices, interest rates, inflation, and ongoing shortage of inventory.
We are also committed neighbors and we work to improve the lives of others through philanthropic and service work. 66% of Realtors volunteer monthly, which is more than any other volunteer group. Some go even further, helping to create food banks and mentor kids to help build affordable homes for farm workers. Realtors are involved in many humanitarian projects across the country.
All of this is done in the name and interest of consumers. This is why the DOJ decision is so significant and sets a legal precedent. A court ruled that the DOJ had to honor NAR’s agreement. It was the right thing to do for consumers. That is our main focus every day.
Charlie Oppler was 2021 President of National Association of Realtors.
This column does not necessarily reflect HousingWire’s editorial opinion or its owners.
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