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Zillow to Display Buyer Agent Commissions on Listings Following Newly Adopted NAR Policy

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) board of directors adopted numerous multiple listing service policy recommendations on Monday, including one that mandates MLS to enable brokers and agents to publish buyer broker commissions.

The policy requires MLSs to disclose buyer broker commissions on their listing sites and to include buyer broker commissions in the data feeds they offer to agents and brokers, but it does not mandate brokers and agents to display buyer broker commissions.

At the 1.5 million-member trade group's annual convention, the Realtors Conference & Expo, in San Diego, the board voted 521 in support of the policy and 258 opposed.

Realtor-affiliated MLSs must follow NAR MLS policies in order to maintain their NAR-provided liability insurance coverage. The great majority of MLSs in the United States are Realtor-affiliated.

Who's idea was this?

The buyer broker commission display policy is one of three authorized by the NAR board as a result of a now-canceled antitrust deal between NAR and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ recently pulled out of the deal when the NAR refused to amend the settlement to allow for future investigations into NAR antitrust violations.

The authorized policy is as follows:

MLSs must include the listing broker’s offer of compensation for each active listing displayed on its consumer-facing website(s) and in MLS data feeds provided to participants and subscribers, and must permit MLS participants or subscribers to share such information though IDX and VOW displays or through any other form or format provided to clients and consumers. The information about the offer of compensation must be accompanied by a disclaimer stating that the offer is made only to participants of the MLS where the listing is filed.

Zillow to Display Broker Commissions

While the new policy does not mandate that broker commissions be published in listings on sites like Zillow that use MLS data, the company has made its position quite clear:

“[W]e applaud the new rule to display buyer agent commissions and intend to display this information as it becomes available for public display from MLSs in the coming months.”

A spokesman for Zillow, a brokerage and Realtor member in all 50 states, said to Inman in an emailed statement.

Buyer agents no longer allowed to advertise their services as "free" or "no cost to buyer"

The NAR board of directors also approved another DOJ-inspired policy suggestion that prohibits agents and brokers from presenting their services as free unless they will not be compensated in any way for them. It was passed without debate, with 724 in favor and 49 opposing.

The policy states:

MLS Participants and Subscribers must not represent that their brokerage services to a client or customer are free or available at no cost to their clients, unless the Participant or Subscriber will receive no financial compensation from any source for those services.

“While Realtors always have been required to advertise their services accurately and truthfully, this change creates a bright line rule on the use of the word ‘free’ that is easy to follow and enforce,” NAR said.

The accepted policies take effect on January 1, 2022, and MLSs have until March 1, 2022, to implement them.

At Skyline, we stay on top of current events like this so you don't have to. Let us know below what you think about these new policies!

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