Consumer Federation of America: Despite an NAR rule change, only Redfin displays buyer-agent compensation in virtually all of the major cities examined.

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More than a year after the National Association of Realtors required multiple listing services to allow their agent and broker subscribers to display buyer-broker commissions on their websites, many major brokerages — including Compass, eXp, Howard Hanna, Sotheby’s International Realty, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Crye-Leike — do not or rarely display buyer-broker commissions on their websites in three dozen major cities, according to a report from the Consumer Federation of America.

Additionally, the report found that Redfin almost always displayed buyer-broker commissions in the markets examined, Zillow did in just over half of the markets examined and did not in all markets examined, save one.

NAR policy does not require that its member agents or brokers display buyer-broker commissions, just that MLSs must allow them to if they wish to do so.

In a report called “Buyer Agent Commission Rate Disclosures and Their Implications for Home Buyers and Sellers,” CFA studied 277 local listing websites, choosing seven or eight websites of the biggest brokerages by sales volume in each of 36 cities. The nonprofit also looked at whether the display of buyer-broker commissions was prominent, meaning it was near the top of a listing and in a relatively large typeface, or not prominent, meaning it required a click to view or was in a very small typeface.

CFA found that buyer-agent rates were “always or nearly always” published on one-third (32.5 percent) of the 277 websites, “sometimes” published on 4 percent of the sites and “never or almost never” published on 63.5 percent of the sites.

Source: CFA

Among the 101 websites that published rates at least sometimes, two-thirds (66.3 percent) disclosed the rates prominently, according to the report.

Source: CFA

“If buyer agent rate disclosures were readily available to and understood by homebuyers, their agents would find it more difficult to steer them away from low-commission properties to higher-commission ones,” Stephen Brobeck, senior fellow at CFA and the report’s author, wrote.

Steve Brobeck

“The agents would be aware that buyers might wonder or even question agent reluctance to show buyers low-commission properties. Moreover, informed buyers could insist that these properties be shown.

“Discount brokers might feel greater freedom to list properties with lower buyer agent rates. Buyers and sellers might be encouraged to discuss commissions with their agents. Before having this discussion, sellers could search listings to better understand typical buyer agent rates.”

But the report’s findings show that buyers don’t have easy access to buyer-agent rates, according to Brobeck.

“Only Redfin discloses these rates prominently in a large majority of property listings,” he wrote.

“Zillow and Keller Williams publish rates prominently in about half of major markets sampled. Yet, no other major real estate company appears to do so.

“Prominent disclosure is especially important because it will likely be noticed by and raise questions in the minds of buyers. Rate disclosures buried in small print in the middle of detailed information about properties are much less likely to be noticed and regarded.”

CFA found that the only market out of the 36 where Redfin did not disclose rates was Manhattan, which Brobeck noted is “a unique high-priced market dominated by five large companies that maintain a listing service separate from NAR-related MLSs.”

CFA also found that in an additional 20 small cities, Redfin disclosed buyer-agent rates in 16 of the cities and did so prominently in 13 of the cities.

“This finding is not surprising since in 2021 the company announced that they were publishing buyer rate commissions for over 700,000 homes and planned to add more listings as local MLSs made them available,” Brobeck wrote.

By contrast, the consumer watchdog found that Zillow at least sometimes disclosed rates in 20 of the 36 cities (55.6 percent) and did so prominently in 16 of the cities.

“Redfin started publishing buyer brokers compensation on our own listings in August of 2019,” Redfin spokesperson Angela Cherry told Inman via email.

“Then in November 2021, NAR’s board of directors voted to allow members to display the offer of compensation to customers at their discretion. We think it’s in the customer’s best interest to have transparent access to this information, so we display it for customers everywhere we can.”

Asked why Redfin is able to display buyer-agent compensation in nearly all markets when other MLS-fed brokerage sites such as Zillow don’t have the same coverage, Cherry said, “MLSs are required to include the offer of compensation for each active listing in MLS data feeds provided to participants, and they leave it up to the brokerages to decide whether or not they want to publish it. I don’t have any insight as to why other brokerages don’t publish that data — I suppose you’d have to ask them?”

In an emailed statement, Zillow spokesperson Camille Chotzen told Inman, “We can’t comment on what is displayed on other listing portals but at Zillow we believe that transparency, innovation, and consumer choice are positive, not only for homebuyers and sellers, but for the real estate industry overall. We intend to display this information in a timely manner as it becomes available for public display in each of the MLSs we work with.”

CFA found that Keller Williams published rates at least sometimes in 14 of 24 cities (58.3 percent) and did so prominently in 11 cities. Better Homes and Gardens disclosed the rates prominently in eight of 11 cities that were part of a broader sample than the initial 277 websites, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Coldwell Banker published the rates at least sometimes in 12 of 20 cities (60 percent) — only in two prominently — and RE/MAX disclosed rates in eight of 16 cities (50 percent) — none prominently.

But while these companies publish rates in at least half of markets, several other large brokerages rarely, if ever, do, the report pointed out.

“In our sample, rates were published by Berkshire Hathaway in one of 12 cities (Boston), by Sotheby’s in one of 13 cities (sometimes in Manhattan), and by Compass in none of six cities,” Brobeck wrote.

“Other large companies were part of our sample in only two or three cities, so we also examined their rate disclosure in other cities as well. In ten cities, Howard Hanna, Long & Foster, CryeLeike, Century 21, and Realty One never appeared to publish rates, and eXp did so in only one city.”

BHHS parent company HomeServices of America criticized the CFA report.

“The premise of the CFA report — that the failure of consumer-facing websites displaying homes for sale to consistently reflect the amount of the offer of compensation to buyer brokers is causing steering and harming consumers — is at a minimum highly exaggerated,” a HomeServices spokesperson told Inman in an emailed statement.

“Every consumer involved in a transaction is made aware of the buyer broker commission and its amount. State law … , common law, association rules as well as the NAR Code of Ethics … all require that both listing agents and buyer brokers inform their buyers and sellers of commission-related details.”

Asked why BHHS doesn’t publish commissions in 11 out of 12 cities examined, the spokesperson said, “Individual companies are free to populate their websites directly from the information provided to them by their MLS(s), which do not uniformly include commissions offered by listing brokers to buyer brokers. Where available, individual companies may decide to enhance the MLS data feed by adding commissions offered by listing brokers to buyer brokers.”

HomeServices of America — along with NAR, Anywhere (formerly Realogy) Keller Williams and RE/MAX — is currently a defendant in two major federal lawsuits alleging that some NAR rules — including one that requires listing brokers to offer buyer brokers a commission in order to list a property in a Realtor-affiliated MLS — violate the Sherman Antitrust Act by inflating seller costs.

Compass declined to comment for this story. Long & Foster, Howard Hanna, Sotheby’s, Crye-Leike and Realty One Group did not respond to requests for comment.

CFA’s report includes city-by-city and brokerage-by-brokerage data for each of the 36 primary markets examined. Separately, the nonprofit provided Inman with a list of the 10 additional cities examined each for Howard Hanna, Long & Foster, Crye-Leike, Century 21 and Realty One Group:

Howard Hanna

  • Old sample: Buffalo, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • New sample: Albany, New York; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Cleveland Ohio; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana; Detroit Michigan; Toledo Ohio; Columbus, Ohio

Long & Foster

  • Old sample: Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Roanoke, Virginia
  • New sample: Charlotte, North Carolina; Frostburg, Maryland; Richmond, Virginia; Raleigh,  North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Easton, Maryland


  • Old sample: Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee
  • New sample: Huntsville, Alabama; Bentonville, Arkansas; Atlanta, Georgia; Knoxville, Tennessee; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Tupelo, Mississippi; Destin, Florida

Century 21

  • Old sample: Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Dallas, Texas
  • New sample: Little Rock, Arkansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; Springfield, Illinois; Louisville, Kentucky; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cincinnati, Ohio

Realty One Group

  • Old sample: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Phoenix, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada
  • New sample: San Diego, California; Bakersfield, California; Sacramento, California; Tucson, Arizona; Amarillo, Texas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; St. Petersburg, Florida


  • Old sample: Tulsa, Oklahoma; St. Louis, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky
  • New sample: Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; Orlando, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Detroit, Michigan; Columbus, Ohio

Among these cities and brokerages, only eXp published rates and only did so in one market: Denver, Brobeck told Inman.

“I would speculate that all the companies with around c. 40-60 percent disclosure rates — Zillow, Keller Williams, Better Homes, Coldwell, and RE/MAX — are trying or intending to publish the rates but either can’t get access to all of them yet from MLSs or are in the process of trying to publish them,” he said.

“Further, all the other companies examined have little or no interest in publishing these rates. Exceptions for them may represent local franchise operations working directly with their MLS to obtain and publish the rates. How Redfin gained access to nearly all the rates remains a mystery.”

Asked why eXp doesn’t publish commissions in nine out of the 10 cities examined, a spokesperson told Inman, “eXp Realty agents work with sellers to determine what co-broker commission is offered in the multiple listing service. This is set between the seller and agent. We recognize each market and seller’s needs are different, so all fees should be determined with the real estate professional they trust to guide them through the process.”

CFA’s report urged NAR, the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) and ARELLO to encourage real estate brokerages and portals, especially, to publish the buyer-broker commission rates.

“The extent to which buyer agent rates are highly visible to home buyers and sellers will strongly influence consumer understanding and use of these rates,” Brobeck wrote.

“Out of sight, out of mind. But if the rates are prominent, many buyers and sellers will notice them and think about their usefulness in home purchases or sales. Accordingly, it is important that more companies than Redfin, Zillow, Keller Williams, and Better Homes and Gardens publish these rates prominently.”

CMLS and ARELLO did not respond to requests for comment. In an emailed statement to Inman, NAR encouraged consumers to talk to their broker to understand and agree upon how the broker expects to be compensated.

Mantill Williams

“Realtors are in the business of serving consumers, and whatever our members can do to make the process more positive, more transparent and more efficient for our clients, we support,” NAR spokesperson Mantill Williams said.

“NAR rules have long allowed local MLS broker marketplaces to decide whether to display commissions. And in 2021, in accordance with local broker marketplaces’ long-standing focus on creating an efficient, transparent marketplace for homebuyers and sellers, we adopted a rule that the amount of compensation offered to buyers’ agents for each MLS listing will be made publicly available.

“Publicly accessible MLS data feeds will include offers of compensation, and buyers’ agents will have an affirmative obligation to provide such information to their clients for homes of interest.”

This “affirmative obligation” is spelled out in Standard of Practice 1-13 in the Realtor Code of Ethics, which makes clear a Realtor’s obligation to talk with consumers about compensation, according to Williams.

“Specifically, SOP 1-13 requires, among other things, that Realtors advise potential clients about the amount of compensation to be paid by the client, and that a buyer representative may receive additional or off-setting compensation from other parties, including brokers,” Williams said.

Inman asked NAR if the requirement applies when the client is not paying the buyer broker directly, which is the case in the vast majority of real estate transactions.

“Realtors are encouraged to talk with clients about compensation and are ethically obligated not to represent their brokerage services as free,” Williams said.

“NAR also encourages the use of buyer representation agreements, which typically include the amount the broker expects to be paid for their services.”

“The SOP 1-13 would apply when the Realtor is using a buyer rep agreement, so regardless of whether the client ends of paying the commission out of pocket or if the commission is covered by the listing broker, a Realtor must advise the client of the potential for additional or off-setting compensation from the listing agent or other broker,” Williams added.

According to the text of the code, SOP 1-13’s requirement only applies specifically “[w]hen entering into buyer/tenant agreements” — which may or may not correspond to when a client is actively searching for homes. There is no requirement that the compensation information be provided online or for agents to disclose that different listings may pay varying amounts of compensation.

“[I]n accordance with Article 12 [of the code], Realtors must ‘be honest and truthful in their real estate communications…’, and thus if clients ask what the offer of compensation is on a particular property, Realtors are bound to provide that information,” Williams said.

Unlike Zillow and Redfin, is not a brokerage. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson told Inman that NAR’s requirement that MLSs provide commission data in listing feeds only applies to companies that receive the data through Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feeds for brokers and agents.

“We get our listing data feeds through unique agreements we have in place with MLSs, and those feeds typically do not include broker commission data,” the spokesperson said.

“For MLSs that do want to provide this data, we work with them to display it on”

“Currently a few MLSs feed buyer broker commissions for display on listings on, but we are in the process of onboarding more onto,” the spokesperson added.

The company declined to say from which “few MLSs” currently displays buyer-broker commissions or to say how many the site is currently onboarding.

CFA’s report also urged real estate information providers to better educate consumers about potential real estate agent conflicts and ways to minimize them.

“Regarding potential steering to high-commission properties, the key message for home buyers is: ‘Learn the commission rate offered to agents on any property of great interest to you. Talk to your agent about the possibility of a partial rebate of this commission to you,'” Brobeck wrote.

“For home sellers, the key message is: ‘Learn the commission rates offered on properties that are similar to yours in your area. Use this information in discussions with your agent about what buyer agent rate to offer.’ For both, a key message is: ‘You can almost always find this rate on Redfin’s property listings.'”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments from NAR.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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