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NAR Reaches Agreement with DOJ on MLS and Commission Rules

The Dept. of Justice-NAR agreement isn’t finalized, but NAR says it will institute changes, such as making info on buyers’ agents’ compensation publicly available in the MLS and creating a definitive rule that buyers’ agents can’t represent their services as free.

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) said on Thursday that it reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop rules that more explicitly state MLS policies on providing information about commissions and MLS participation.

“Our rules and policies have long been recognized for creating a competitive and efficient market that benefits home buyers and sellers,” says Katie Johnson, NAR’S general counsel and chief member experience officer. “This agreement resolves the DOJ’s questions about the multiple listing service (MLS) and commissions and enables NAR to remain focused on supporting our members as they preserve, protect, and advance the American dream of homeownership.”

Most of the changes to address DOJ concerns reflect the “spirit and intent of NAR’s Code of Ethics and MLS policies regarding providing information about commissions and MLS participation,” Johnson writes.

According to Inman News, NAR’s vice president of communications, Mantill Williams, said the changes are:

  • The amount of a buyers’ agents’ compensation will be publicly available in each MLS listing, and “buyers’ agents will have an affirmative obligation to provide such information to their clients for homes of interest.”
  • NAR reaffirmed that MLSs and brokerages must show consumers all properties that fit their search criteria – regardless of the compensation offered or the name of the listing brokerage.
  • Agents representing buyers can’t tell buyers that their services are free. “There will be a rule that more definitively states that buyers’ agents cannot represent their services as free to clients,” says Johnson.
  • Licensed agents that don’t subscribe to an MLS will have access to lockboxes providing the seller approves.

Adopting the changes

NAR and DOJ expect to agree on the final rule changes within 45 days. NAR’s Board of Directors will have to approve the new rules, and the court that’s overseeing the DOJ-NAR settlement must approve it. Once those three steps are completed, the new rules will take effect.

“In entering this agreement with the DOJ, NAR disagrees with the DOJ’s characterization of our rules and policies, and NAR admits no liability, wrongdoing, or truth of any allegations by the DOJ,” writes Johnson. “The agreement does not subject NAR to any fines or payments.”

NAR posted a roster of frequently asked questions on its website.

Source: National Association of Realtors® (NAR), Katie Johnson

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