NAR Litigation Update

NAR Litigation Settlement – What it Means for LIBOR Members

Gain clarity on NAR’s proposed settlement agreement and its current implications for LIBOR members. Hear about what we know so far concerning the new rules proposed in the settlement and what steps you can start taking now to prepare for the changes that are ahead. 

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A Message from LIBOR CEO, Doreen Spagnuolo

3/22/24

Despite all of the news circulating about the NAR lawsuit proposed settlement, it's important to carry on with your usual business activities and remain patient about the changes that will lie ahead. 

Right now, there are no rule changes that would alter how you currently operate as a real estate professional. You should be adhering to your broker's Standard Operating Procedures and maintaining your usual professional approach when representing buyers and sellers, ensuring transparency and honesty throughout.

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90% of homebuyers have historically opted to work with a real estate agent or broker. Here’s why that’s unlikely to change, according to the National Association of Realtors

National Association of REALTORS’® REALTOR® Party Community Engagement Liaison addresses the misinformation surrounding NAR’s recent settlement and reiterates the value real estate professionals provide to consumers. Read more here: 

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National Association of REALTORS® Reaches Agreement to Resolve Nationwide Claims Brought by Home Sellers

The agreement would resolve claims against NAR, over one million NAR members, all state/territorial and local REALTOR® associations, all association-owned MLSs, and all brokerages with an NAR member as principal that had a residential transaction volume in 2022 of $2 billion or below.

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Correcting the Record: NAR Does Not Set Commissions

Following recent inaccuracies in media coverage, including the false representation or suggestion that NAR requires a standard 6% commission, NAR has issued a statement of facts regarding real estate commissions. 

The rule that has been the subject of litigation requires only that listing brokers communicate an offer of compensation. Other rules throughout the MLS Handbook and NAR policy expressly prohibit setting or suggesting any such amount.

Read Statement


Please find below frequently asked questions about the settlement, for members provided by NAR:

  • Since the litigation began, we have worked consistently to reach a resolution with the plaintiffs.
  • We have always wanted to reduce the significant strain on our members and provide a path forward for the industry and, from the beginning of this litigation, we had two goals:
    • Secure a release of liability for as many of our members, associations, and MLSs as we could; and
    • Preserve the choices consumers have regarding real estate services and compensation.
  • This proposed settlement achieves both of those goals and provides a path for us to move forward and continue our work to preserve, protect, and advance the right to real property for all.

  • Release of liability: The agreement would release NAR, over one million NAR members, all state/territorial and local REALTOR® associations, all association-owned MLSs, and all brokerages with an NAR member as principal whose residential transaction volume in 2022 was $2 billion or below from liability for the types of claims brought in these cases on behalf of home sellers related to broker commissions. 
    • NAR fought to include all members in the release and was able to ensure more than one million members are included. 
    • Despite NAR’s efforts, agents affiliated with HomeServices of America and its related companies—the last corporate defendant still litigating the Sitzer-Burnett case—are not released under the settlement, nor are employees of the remaining corporate defendants named in the cases covered by this settlement.
  • The agreement provides a mechanism for nearly all brokerage entities that had a residential transaction volume in 2022 that exceeded $2 billion and MLSs not wholly owned by REALTOR® associations to obtain releases efficiently if they choose to use it. 

    Compensation offers moved off the MLS: NAR has agreed to put in place a new rule prohibiting offers of compensation on the MLS. Offers of compensation could continue to be an option consumers can pursue off-MLS through negotiation and consultation with real estate professionals. And sellers can offer buyer concessions on an MLS (for example—concessions for buyer closing costs). This change will go into effect in mid-July 2024.

    Written agreements for MLS participants acting for buyers:
    While NAR has been advocating for the use of written agreements for years, in this settlement we have agreed to require MLS participants working with buyers to enter into written representation agreements with their buyers. This change will go into effect in mid-July 2024. 

    Settlement payment: NAR would pay $418 million over approximately four years. This is a substantial sum, and it will be incumbent on NAR to use our remaining resources in the most effective way possible to continue delivering on our core mission. NAR’s membership dues for 2024 will not change because of this payment.

    NAR continues to deny any wrongdoing: NAR has long maintained — and we continue to believe — that cooperative compensation and NAR’s current policies 1 are good things that benefit buyers and sellers. They promote access to property ownership, particularly for lower- and middle-income buyers who can have a difficult-enough time saving for a down payment. With this settlement, NAR is confident it and its members can still achieve all those goals. 

  • No. The settlement makes clear that NAR continues to deny any wrongdoing in connection with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) cooperative compensation model rule (MLS Model Rule).
  • It has always been NAR’s goal to resolve this litigation in a way that preserves consumer choice and protects our members to the greatest extent possible. This settlement achieves both of those goals. 
  • This agreement significantly reduces liability nationwide for over one million NAR members, all state/territorial and local REALTOR® associations, association-owned MLSs, and all brokerages with an NAR member as principal that had a residential transaction volume in 2022 of $2 billion or below. Ultimately, continuing to litigate would have hurt members and their small businesses. 
  • The agreement provides a path forward for our industry and NAR. 

  • The release covers most NAR members for the entire time period, and even if an agent is not covered for some of the time period, they may be covered for others for the time they were not affiliated with HomeServices and its related companies.  

  • No. The settlement makes clear that NAR continues to deny any wrongdoing in connection with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) cooperative compensation model rule (MLS Model Rule).
  • NAR has long maintained — and we continue to believe — that cooperative compensation and NAR’s current policies are good things that benefit buyers and sellers. They promote access to real property ownership, particularly for lower- and middle-income buyers who can have a difficult-enough time saving for a down payment. Real estate laws in many states authorize offers of compensation.
  • With this settlement, NAR is confident it and its members can still achieve all those goals.

  • Yes. Offers of compensation could continue to be an option consumers can pursue off-MLS through negotiation and consultation with real estate professionals. And sellers can offer buyer concessions on an MLS (for example—concessions for buyer closing costs). 

  • As NAR has maintained throughout the litigation, nothing in NAR’s current policies (including the MLS Model Rule) has increased costs for buyers or sellers. 
  • This settlement would preserve the choices consumers have regarding real estate services and compensation. After the new rule goes into effect, listing brokers and sellers could continue to offer compensation for buyer broker services, but such offers could not be communicated via the MLS. 
  • The settlement expressly provides that sellers may communicate seller concessions — such as buyer closing costs — via the MLS provided that such concessions are not conditioned on the use of or payment to a buyer broker. 

  • The agreement would release association-owned MLSs from liability for the types of claims brought in these cases on behalf of home sellers related to broker commissions. 
  • While the release excludes MLSs that are not wholly owned by REALTOR® associations, the agreement provides a mechanism for those MLSs to obtain releases efficiently if they choose to use it.
  • This mechanism includes opting into the MLS practice changes that are a part of the agreement and paying a per-subscriber fee to the Settlement Fund.
  • NAR has agreed to put in place a new rule prohibiting offers of compensation on the MLS. This change will go into effect in mid-July 2024.
  • Additionally, we have agreed to require MLS participants working with buyers to enter into written representation agreements with their buyers. This change will also go into effect in mid-July 2024. 

  • This settlement would preserve the choices consumers have regarding real estate services and compensation. 
    • After the new rule goes into effect, listing brokers and sellers could continue to offer compensation for buyer broker services, but such offers could not be communicated via the MLS.
    • MLS participants acting for buyers would be required to enter into written agreements with their buyers before touring a home. These agreements can help consumers understand exactly what services and value will be provided, and for how much. 

  • The agreement provides a mechanism for nearly all brokerage entities that had a residential transaction volume in 2022 that exceeded $2 billion and MLSs not wholly owned by REALTOR® associations to obtain releases efficiently if they choose to use it. 
  • While we would have preferred to protect all industry players, ultimately NAR could not persuade the plaintiffs to include the largest brokerages, particularly given the significant settlements that other corporate defendants have already reached. 

  • We have long believed that it is in the interests of the sellers, buyers, and their brokers to make offers of compensation — but using the MLS to communicate offers of compensation would no longer be an option. 
  • Offers of compensation could continue to be an option consumers can pursue offMLS through negotiation and consultation with real estate professionals. 
  • The types of compensation available for buyer brokers would continue to take multiple forms, depending on broker-consumer negotiations, including but not limited to:
    • Fixed-fee commission paid directly by consumers
    • Concession from the seller
    • Portion of the listing broker’s compensation
  • Compensation would continue to be negotiable and should always be negotiated between agents and the consumers they serve. 

  • NAR fought to include all members in the release and was able to ensure more than one million members were included. 
  • Despite NAR’s efforts, agents affiliated with HomeServices of America and its related companies—the last corporate defendant still litigating the Sitzer-Burnett case—are not released under the settlement, nor are employees of the remaining corporate defendants named in the cases covered by this settlement. 
  • Plaintiffs would not agree to include these members and employees of the corporate defendants in the NAR’s release
  • NAR secured in the agreement a mechanism for nearly all brokerage entities that had a residential transaction volume in 2022 that exceeded $2 billion and MLSs not wholly owned by REALTOR® associations to obtain releases efficiently if they choose to use it.  

  • One of the critical advantages of this agreement is that NAR would be able to pay the settlement amount over time.
  • We will determine how to allocate funds as they become due, working closely with our Finance Committee.  

  • We are confident that this agreement provides a path for NAR to move forward and continue our work to preserve, protect, and advance the right to real property for all.
  • NAR fought to include all members in the release and was able to ensure more than one million members were included. 
  • We will continue to deliver unparalleled value to, and advocacy on behalf of, REALTORS®, including through our learning opportunities and resources, research, and member tools. 

  • MLSs have always provided significant value beyond communicating offers of compensation. 
  • MLSs: 
    • Enable comprehensive marketplaces: Access to inventory and widespread advertising incentivizes local broker participation.
    • Ensure reliable data access: NAR guidelines for local MLS broker marketplaces enable hubs of trusted, verified information where all participants have equitable access.
    • Create connections: Local MLS broker marketplaces create the largest opportunity for connections between real estate agents with properties to sell and those with clients looking to buy.
    • Advance small business: Compiling housing information that is accessible to all businesses, in one place, allows smaller real estate brokerages to compete with larger ones.
    • Encourage entrepreneurship: Because of lower barriers to entry enabled by local MLS broker marketplaces, new market entrants can advance technology, consumer service and other innovations. 

  • Listing brokers should inform their clients that offers of compensation would no longer be an option on an MLS.
  • This change will not prevent offers of cooperative compensation off an MLS. And it will not prevent sellers from offering buyer concessions on an MLS (for example – concessions for buyer closing costs).
  • Compensation would continue to be negotiable and should always be negotiated between agents and the consumers they serve. 

  • The settlement was signed off by NAR’s Leadership Team, in consultation with outside legal and financial experts, and in accordance with NAR’s governance procedures. 
  • Throughout the settlement process, we engaged with a diverse range of members and considered their perspectives and interests while fighting to protect all industry players as best we could.
  • As is common in negotiating a complex settlement, there is a need to maintain confidentiality and effectively navigate complex legal considerations, which restricted the extent of the information that NAR could share more broadly. 

  • While NAR has long maintained — and we continue to believe — that cooperative compensation and NAR’s current policies are good things that benefit buyers and sellers, we also acknowledge that continuing to litigate would have hurt members 5 and their small businesses, so have agreed to put in place a new rule prohibiting offers of compensation on the MLS.
  • This is consistent with NAR’s long-maintained position that prohibiting all offers of cooperative compensation entirely would harm consumers and be inconsistent with real estate laws in the many states that authorize them.
  • We believe this agreement provides a path forward for our industry and NAR. 

  • Yes. Offers of compensation could continue to be an option consumers can pursue off-MLS through negotiation and consultation with real estate professionals. And sellers can offer buyer concessions on an MLS. 

  • The agreement would release all state/territorial and local REALTOR® associations from liability for the types of claims brought in these cases on behalf of home sellers related to broker commissions, and would also require their compliance with the practice changes agreed to in the settlement. 

  • Yes.

  • Yes. Association-owned MLSs need to execute an appendix to the agreement in which they agree to abide by the practice changes in the agreement.
  • They will have 60 days to execute the appendix. 

  • Offers of compensation could continue to be an option consumers can pursue off MLS through negotiation and consultation with real estate professionals. And sellers can offer buyer concessions on an MLS (for example—concessions that can be used for buyer closing costs).
  • The settlement does not change the ethical duties that NAR members owe their clients.
  • REALTORS® are always required to protect and promote the interests of their clients and treat all parties in a transaction, honestly (Article 1, COE).
  • NAR members will continue to use their skill, care, and diligence to protect the interests of their clients.
  • NAR remains dedicated to promoting transparency in the marketplace and working to ensure that consumers have access to comprehensive, equitable, transparent, and reliable property information, as well as the ability to have affordable professional representation in their real estate transactions. 

  • We can expect the process of court review to take several months or more.
  • There are strong grounds for the court to approve this settlement because it is in the best interests of all parties and class members. 

  • NAR explored settling throughout the litigation and also carefully considered the other legal options available to us. These included:   
    • Appealing: A win on appeal would only have addressed the verdict in the Sitzer-Burnett case (not any of the copycat cases) and may only have resulted in a new jury trial, leaving members and consumers with continued uncertainty. 
    • Chapter 11 reorganization: In theory, Chapter 11 would have enabled NAR to eliminate its own liabilities while pursuing an appeal of the Sitzer-Burnett verdict. But we believe that would have left members with continued uncertainty and potential liability risk. Chapter 11 would also have paused the litigation against NAR but not the other defendants in the cooperative compensation cases.
  • Ultimately, while NAR continues to believe that it is not liable for the home seller claims related to broker commissions and that we have strong arguments challenging the Sitzer-Burnett verdict, we decided to reach this settlement to put claims to rest for over one million NAR members and other parties who would be released under the agreement. 

  • Throughout the settlement process, we engaged with a diverse range of members and considered their perspectives and interests while fighting to protect all industry players as best we could.
  • As is common in negotiating a complex settlement, there is a need to maintain confidentiality and effectively navigate complex legal considerations, which restricted the extent of the information that NAR could share more broadly. 

  • Since the litigation began, we have consistently worked to reach a resolution with the plaintiffs. 
  • In the months since the Sitzer-Burnett verdict, we redoubled those efforts. 
  • As is common in negotiating a complex settlement, there is a need to maintain confidentiality and effectively navigate complex legal considerations, which restricted the extent of the information that NAR could share more broadly.
  • We have always wanted to reduce the significant strain on our members and provide a path forward for the industry and, from the beginning of this litigation, we had two goals:
    • Secure a release of liability for as many of our members, associations, and MLSs as we could; and
    • Preserve the choices consumers have regarding real estate services and compensation.
  • This proposed settlement achieves both of those goals and provides a path for us to move forward and continue our work to preserve, protect, and advance the right to real property for all.
  • Ultimately, while NAR continues to believe that it is not liable for the home seller claims related to broker commissions and that we have strong arguments challenging the Sitzer-Burnett verdict, we decided to reach this settlement to put claims to rest for over one million NAR members and other parties who would be released under the agreement.
  • NAR has been proactive in publicly advocating our position throughout the litigation. We have published multiple op-eds and provided our perspective to various news outlets reporting on NAR and the challenges our industry faces.
  • We have also consistently updated Competition.Realtor—our online hub of information about how REALTORS® and local MLS broker marketplaces create competitive, efficient, pro-consumer markets—with new information, materials, and FAQs pertinent to the litigation. 

  • This settlement was heavily negotiated and is based on NAR’s ability to pay. 
  • NAR has secured a release of liability for over one million NAR members, all state/territorial and local REALTOR® associations, all association-owned MLSs, and all brokerages with an NAR member as principal that had a residential transaction volume in 2022 of $2 billion or below.   
  • There are strong grounds for the court to approve this settlement because it is in the best interests of all parties and class members. 

  • We are confident that this agreement provides a path for us to move forward and continue our work to preserve, protect, and advance the right to real property for all.
  • The settlement amount is a substantial sum, and it will be incumbent on NAR to use our remaining resources in the most effective way possible to continue delivering on our core mission. 
  • The Finance Committee and Strategic Planning Committee will remain critical in reviewing and providing guidance about NAR’s operating budget to help ensure we will continue to deliver unparalleled value to and advocacy on behalf of REALTORS®, including through our learning opportunities and resources, research, and member tools. 

  • This settlement was heavily negotiated, and the amount is based on NAR’s ability to pay. 
  • One of the critical advantages of this agreement is that NAR would be able to pay the settlement amount over time.
  • We will determine how to allocate funds as they become due, working closely with our Finance Committee.  

  • One of the critical advantages of this agreement is that NAR would be able to pay the settlement amount over time.
  • The settlement amount is a substantial sum, and it will be incumbent on NAR to use our remaining resources in the most effective way possible to continue delivering on our core mission. 
  • The Finance Committee and Strategic Planning Committee will remain critical in reviewing and providing guidance about NAR’s operating budget to help ensure we will continue to deliver unparalleled value to, and advocacy on behalf of, REALTORS®, including through our learning opportunities and resources, research, and member tools. 

  • NAR’s membership dues for 2024 will not change because of this payment. 

  • Independent MLSs are not required to prohibit offers of compensation on the MLS pursuant to the agreement unless they choose to opt into the settlement, in which case they will need to agree to the practice changes in the agreement and pay a per subscriber fee to the Settlement Fund. 

  • Compensation would continue to be negotiable and should always be negotiated between agents and the consumers they represent. 

  • After the new rule goes into effect, listing agreements should be amended to reflect that offers of compensation cannot be communicated via the MLS.
  • The settlement expressly provides that sellers may communicate seller concessions — such as buyer closing costs — via the MLS provided that such concessions are not conditioned on the use of or payment to a buyer broker. 

  • The practice changes will go into effect in mid-July 2024. 

  • NAR has long encouraged its members to use written agreements because they help consumers understand exactly what services and value will be provided, and for how much. 
  • In fact, the settlement provides that MLS participants working with buyers must enter into written representation agreements with those buyers before touring a home.
  • These agreements can help consumers understand exactly what services and value will be provided, and for how much. 
  • The types of compensation available for buyer brokers would continue to take multiple forms, including but not limited to:
    • Fixed-fee commission paid directly by consumers
    • Concession from the seller
    • Portion of the listing broker’s compensation
  • Compensation would continue to be negotiable and should always be negotiated between agents and the consumers they represent. 

  • As always, the consumer chooses whether to use a real estate professional. Research has confirmed that consumers find great value in the services provided by a buyer broker, and we continue to believe it is imperative for buyer brokers to clearly articulate what services and value they are providing to consumers. 

  • NAR secured in the agreement a mechanism for nearly all brokerage entities that had a residential transaction volume in 2022 that exceeded $2 billion to obtain releases efficiently if they choose to use it.  However, the remaining defendants in the actions covered by the Agreement cannot use the opt-in mechanism. 
  • Broadly speaking, the opt-in provides two paths:
    • Option 1: A brokerage can elect to pay an amount based on a predetermined formula based that brokerages residential transaction volume.
    • Option 2: A brokerage can elect to participate in non-binding mediation within 110 days following preliminary approval of the settlement. 
    • Brokerages can also choose not to participate in this settlement. 
  • All agreements reached through this mechanism would be subject to court approval.   

  • For MLSs that are not wholly owned by a REALTOR® association, the agreement includes a mechanism to obtain a release efficiently if they so choose. 
  • Broadly speaking, the agreement provides two paths: 
    • Option 1: The MLS can elect to pay an amount based on a pre-determined formula based on number of MLS subscribers.
    • Option 2: The MLS can elect to participate in non-binding mediation within 110 days following preliminary approval of the settlement. 
  • Under both options, participating non-association MLSs would agree to be bound by the practice changes set forth in the settlement agreement, including and not limited to the adoption of a rule prohibiting offers of compensation on that MLS. 
  • Non-association MLSs can also choose not to participate in this settlement.  

  • Absolutely not. 
  • NAR fought to include as many people and companies in the release as possible and achieved a release for everyone it could. Over one million members are covered, as are tens of thousands of REALTOR® businesses.   
  • The scope of the release makes clear that NAR looked out for its members. Ultimately, NAR was able to ensure that agents, even those at brokerages that are not covered, are among the more than one million members released. 
  • But, despite NAR’s efforts, plaintiffs would not agree to include everybody. 
  • Those that are not released—the largest companies in our industry—are no worse off now than they were before the settlement.   
  • In fact, many are better off, as thousands of their independent contractor real estate agents are released by the settlement. 
  • They can choose whether or not to use the mechanism NAR negotiated. 
  • Our options included reaching a settlement – whose terms were always going to be affected by the large settlements reached by other corporate defendants – or continuing to appeal the Sitzer-Burnett verdict and litigate the related cases. 
  • That second option likely would have resulted in our filing for Chapter 11 protection, leaving all members, associations, MLSs, and brokerages exposed. 

  • There have been a lot of incorrect statements about the releases in the NAR settlement. 
  • To be clear, nearly every REALTOR® is covered by the release we negotiated in the settlement. 
  • The members not covered under our release are those affiliated with HomeServices of America, the last co-defendant in the Sitzer-Burnett litigation, and the employees of the co-defendants in the Gibson and Umpa cases. 
  • If you are affiliated with any of the following brokerage groups and are an independent contractor, you are covered by the proposed settlement — even if your brokerage may not be covered: 
    • At World Properties, LLC; Compass, Inc.; Douglas Elliman, Inc.; Douglas Elliman Realty, LLC; eXp Realty, LLC; eXp World Holdings, Inc.; Hanna Holdings, Inc.; HomeSmart International, LLC; Howard Hanna Real Estate Services; Real Broker, LLC; The Real Brokerage, Inc.; Realty ONE Group, Inc.; Redfin Corporation; United Real Estate; and Weichert Realtors.
  • All other REALTORS® who are members of NAR on the date of class notice are covered by the release we obtained under this proposed settlement. 
  • The release specifically includes all brokerage firms with a principal who is a REALTOR® whose residential transaction volume in 2022 was 2 billion dollars or below.
  • Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts to fight for their inclusion, the release does not include brokerage firms whose residential transaction volume in 2022 was above 2 billion dollars. 
    • For those companies, the settlement provides an avenue they can pursue if they desire to be included in the release — but to be clear, the settlement does not obligate any of those companies to settle under these terms. 
    • The settlement provides a cap and an opportunity to mediate a different outcome but it does not obligate these top brokerages to pursue this option if they don’t desire.
  • Notably, the release also includes every local, state, and territorial REALTOR® association and all REALTOR® association-owned MLSs that agree to the conduct changes.