RE/MAX announced this week it will officially begin displaying the buyers’ broker commission percentage on all listings in 65 markets where the multiple listing service (MLS) data that populates the site makes the data available. The company will follow suit in every market as soon as the data is available.
The move follows an agreement between the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in which NAR promised to make that data publicly available after the DOJ sued NAR over allegations that certain rules of the trade group place illegal restraints on Realtor competition.
“Knowing how this settlement came out and knowing that they’re working to likely put this in place, we thought it best to be prepared,” Nick Bailey, RE/MAX’s chief customer officer told Inman Friday.
RE/MAX isn’t the first real estate company to begin publicly displaying the data. Redfin first announced in August 2019, it would display buyers’ broker commissions in Seattle, following the Northwest MLS enacting a rule change to make the data public. Other brokerages followed suit.
And while other MLSs have followed suit in displaying the data publicly, RE/MAX publishing the data in its consumer-facing website and app in 65 markets is perhaps the largest single move to display the data yet.
Bailey was clear in conversation that displaying it or not was never RE/MAX’s decision. The international real estate franchisor just wanted to ensure when it inevitably becomes a requirement, the company was prepared, Bailey explained.
“The MLS’s rules completely guide and dictate brokers and franchisors as a vendor of our brokers, what can be displayed and when,” Bailey said. “As they progress through this, there’s a possibility that the requirement goes live in all MLSs, and we don’t want to be playing catch up.”
Bailey, who is also a broker himself in addition to being a RE/MAX exec, believes displaying the buyers’ broker commission isn’t an overly monumental move, rather an evolution that has been happening for a number of years.
“It is not that many years ago that brokerages couldn’t even have other brokerage listings on their websites,” Bailey said. “It wasn’t so long ago that because of the display requirements in some markets that addresses weren’t allowed to be posted.”
“Still today, one of our biggest challenges is, out of 600 MLSs, there are minute differences in display rules amongst MLSs that we have to build for, on what they require.”
Bailey believes it’s too early to tell what the impact will be on consumers and agents and was careful not to make any sweeping prognostications around the future of buyers’ broker commissions. At the same time that DOJ is looking at commissions, there are multiple lawsuits over buyers’ broker commissions working their way through the court, of which RE/MAX is one of multiple defendants.
Bailey was clear, that consumers have always had a choice in the real estate industry — a choice in their agent, a choice in their house. Commissions have always been negotiable and continue to be negotiable, Bailey further explained.
This move just brings more transparency around the entire process.
“We fully support transparency to the consumer,” Baily said. “The evolution of information to consumers just helps them be engaged in the real estate process and feel good about having the transparency of information.