My Response To The NAR Lawsuit

What’s Going On + My Thoughts…

I have read ton of articles, communications from NAR, MAR, SMAR, eXp, and I have watched hundreds of YouTube videos about the recent changes in the real estate brokerage industry.

I would like to address my past and future clients as well as the general public about this NAR (National Association Of Realtors) lawsuit. I will relay some details as I understand them and give my perspective as someone who has been in this business 15 years. *My summary is at the very end if you want to just skip ahead

The Lawsuit

I was recently told that if you have bought or sold a home in the past 5 years you have or will receive a postcard letting you know that you are part of a class action lawsuit. You will be receiving compensation as a result of a settlement (unless you go through the trouble of opting out.)

I am sure you have read the headlines that “6% commissions are dead FINALLY!” or have read something in the news that the real estate business is finally getting what they deserve.

We (Realtors) have recently received a communication from the National Association of Realtors letting us know that several changes are coming pending a judges approval. The lawsuits are not over and the settlements and changes are not final but many of the changes have been agreed to by both parties.

Do you care? Maybe or maybe not but if you are planning on buying or selling a house in the future, it will be different than it was in the past. If you are buying or selling in 2024, this is a MUST read.

I believe that this whole thing is unamerican. That’s a big statement and it sounds like it’s coming from a whiny Realtor who is getting their “over inflated” commissions taken away. Neither of those statements are true, hear me out.

How It Worked In The Past

First let me explain what happened and how all this works. I need to set up the context in order for you to make sense of this.

Starting in 1996 in Maryland, if a home seller hires a licensed Realtor:

  • A home seller calls a real estate agent and negotiates a commission to sell their house
  • They sign a listing agreement that spells out exactly how much the listing agent is paid
  • In a separate box on the listing agreement, it spells out how a buyer agent is paid in the event the buyer is represented by a buyers agent.
  • At settlement the seller pays the listing agent and if there was a buyers agent involved, there is a line item that shows that the seller is paying the buyers agent (out of the listing agents commission) the agreed to fee that was in the little box.

That’s what happens most of the time and that scenario (where the seller agrees to pay the listing agent and ends up paying the buyers agent some of that money) is the premise the DOJ and a class action attorney used, that led to a settlement by several real estate companies and NAR.

The lawsuit is not signed by a judge and the DOJ has not agreed to a settlement at this time however we expect the judge to agree to a new set of changes for how our industry does business.

The issue at hand was the fact that NAR and real estate companies were supposedly working together to keep commissions high and by requiring there to be a fee paid to a buyers agent. The amount could not be $0, it could be $1, but not $0. It can be $0 as of today btw.

According to the accusation anti trust laws were violated. I am not going to say I know how those laws are written. Perhaps if NAR had not required compensation and allowed sellers to choose $0, we wouldn’t be here. Nonetheless, lawsuits were filed and a settlement was agreed to by both parties.

What’s Different?

There two major changes so far:

#1. Listing agents are not allowed to advertise a fee being paid to the buyers agent in the MLS. This is an attempt to “decouple” the commission meaning they want the buyers to pay the fee or the fee to be negotiated at the time the offer is written. Fair enough. Is that a good idea? We will soon find out.

This does not mean the seller is not allowed to pay a buyers agent? No it means they don’t want the fee advertised on the MLS.

How will it work? We do not know but I think it will make buying a house more of a nightmare than it already is.

#2. Buyers will be required to sign an agency (representation) agreement before seeing any home with a licensed Realtor. No more hey call a Realtor and lets go see this house in person and expect to be let in no questions asked.

The Future For Buyers & Sellers

{This all goes into affect mid July 2024}

How will this change the way homes are sold as a seller?

  • You will be told that you no longer are required to pay a buyers agent and it seems as if you are being encouraged not to by everyone. Many if not most sellers who are in a strong sellers market will choose not to if given the option.
  • Sellers in many cases will only be paying a listing agent and as a result will put more money in their pocket.
  • Sellers should expect to have to deal with a much higher percentage of buyers who have no guidance. Sometimes that will end up being better, sometimes much worse.
  • Your house will not have as many showings as before because there will be fewer or no buyers agents to take the buyers to your home.

BTW If buyers agents go away, (I think they will) buyers on a tight schedule will be seeing fewer houses and your listing will be shown to fewer buyers as a result. We will need to figure out who shows the houses to the buyers if there is no buyers agent being paid. Listing agents can not show all of their listings every time someone wants to see it.

Buyers agents are set up show buyers several houses at the same time. If they are forced to rely on the buyers to pay them, they will be getting another job within 6 months…

How will this change the way homes are sold as a buyer?

  • Buyers are going to be required to sign an agreement with a buyers agent before they are allowed to see houses according to the new rules. Gone are the days of calling a random agent to see a house in a moments notice and meeting them at the house.
  • Buyers will potentially be faced with having to pay for your own real estate agent or having to call the listing agent and deal with them directly. The result will be people who can’t afford one, will be stuck with the person representing the seller (the listing agent) and going it alone. *This is how it worked prior to 1996 btw and it’s the reason buyers agency was created in the first place.
  • If you choose to pay for a real estate agent you will look for an affordable option and in life you get what you pay for.
  • You are going to have a much harder time finding a seasoned professional who will be available to show you lots of houses on a flexible schedule and do a great job looking out for you without setting aside a sizable amount of money. Most of the seasoned agents will focus on listings because they want to get paid, it’s common sense.
  • This will result in lower income and first time homebuyers getting the very short end of an already very short stick.
  • Did I mention the lawyer who brought the lawsuit is making $600 million on the first lawsuit and is now suing tons more real estate companies on behalf of buyers now? The seller plaintiffs are all getting $21, maybe the buyer plaintiffs will get $31!

Who deals with the buyer to set expectations and guide them?

  • Probably the listing agent who works for the seller only. That will benefit the seller.
  • Sellers should expect unrepresented buyers to be much more difficult to deal with making the process more aggravating. The need for an expert listing agent will be more important than ever.

The End Result?

  • Sellers will keep more money
  • House prices will stay the same
  • It will be even harder to buy a house
  • Low income/first time & VA homebuyers will be at a huge disadvantage
  • The great Realtors will not agree to work with people who cant afford them causing the quality of service to degrade for buyers.

Is This A Fair Outcome?

As a result of the settlement you are likely going to be receiving a whopping $21! The attorney who said Realtors were making too much money will make 600 million dollars on the first round of lawsuits, seems totally fair…

Bigger Issues?

  • Over 40% of rental homes will be owned by investors by 2030 LINK
  • Homes are more unaffordable than ever in our history – https://posts.voronoiapp.com/Real%20Estate/Charted:-Median-House-Prices-vs.-Income-in-the-U.S.-738
  • Interest rates are NOT going down once again LINK

So houses cost more than ever and the DOJ decides destroying buyers agents is the solution?

People Have Had Options All Along

Can you hire a discount brokerage? Sell your own house for sale by owner? Negotiate the commission with any Realtor? Redfin hello???

Type in “sell my house for cheap” in Google or skip it because I already found one right here in Maryland, https://homerise.com/ and you can sell your house for $95! And if you want to by all means go for it, this is America, more power to you. Better yet do it for FREE on Zillow LINK

In 2023, during the strongest sellers markets in the history of earth, an all time low of only 7% of sellers chose to go it alone and sell for-sale-by-owner.

Do most people sell their own cars knowing that you can sell it for way more than you can get for it as a trade-in? Why not? The same reasons people hire real estate agents, they are afraid to screw it up and don’t want to deal with everything involved. Selling a car is WAY easier than selling a house.

*Summary

If you bought or sold a house in the past 5 years you are most likely getting $21 as the result of several class action lawsuits. It stated that real estate brokers, because of rules from the National Association of Realtors, forced home sellers to put at least $1 in the listing agreement to pay a buyers agent and therefore forced high commissions.

NAR and several brokerages agreed to settle without admitting guilt for hundreds of millions of dollars.

The class action lawsuit for homebuyers (who typically pay nothing for buyers agent representation) is marching forward in a separate multi billion dollar lawsuit because they were damaged somehow. How? I don’t know because I haven’t read that one yet.

The legal basis for the lawsuits and the communications by the plaintiffs attorneys are different. The communication to the media has been that Realtors get paid too much and they (the attorneys and DOJ) are going to break up the industry by forcing us (Realtors) to change how or by whom we are paid.

They are trying to prevent sellers from paying the buyers agent and supposedly this will save everyone money.

In reality if a seller can sell without paying a buyers agent they will understandably.

Most buyers will choose not to pay for a buyers agent or for financial reasons will be forced to deal with the listing agent directly and will therefore be unrepresented when buying a home.

& In Conclusion

This is stupid and unamerican because every seller signed the agreement that outlined exactly who was getting paid and how much. At the settlement the numbers came out exactly how it was written in the listing agreement. If they wanted to, they could have said I am calling Homerise.com and paid $95 but they didn’t, they signed and paid what everyone agreed to, like we do in a free market society.

In the past 5 years sellers are making small fortunes every time they sell a house compared to the previous 50 years of home appreciation. They did not ask for this.

So now we are stuck having to figure out how to negotiate commission at the offer table? In reality, a trial lawyer found a loophole and pulled a fast one on everyone by attacking the real estate trade group (NAR) industry bi-laws.

He is raking in a cool 600 million by telling previous home sellers that they were tricked into paying Realtors when they sold their house. This is despite the fact that they agreed to it in writing. They will all be getting $21 he is getting 600 million and again who got tricked???

The world we live in loves the people “making too much money” getting “justice” so I get it. Maybe 30k to put a sign in a yard seems like a lot, maybe everyone should have called Homerise and maybe they will.

Or maybe they will still choose to call someone who has been doing this for years helping hundreds of families get through this process. Which by the way, according to this article that states that selling a home is considered less stressful than a week in jail LINK

What Will I Do?

Continue to focus on helping home sellers get the most money when it comes to selling their homes using a process unlike anyone in the area where I pay for a pre-appraisal, pre-home inspection, a consultation with a professional decorator, use the best photos, video, and social media marketing for listings in the area.

I will help my sellers negotiate from a position of strength and we will get top dollar! My clients will sell their houses faster and I will make it as easy and stress free. They will get more money when selling their house than if they never hired me.

Will I still help buyers? Yes, but I know the harsh reality is that most people do not have enough money saved to pay the down payment, lender fees, appraisal, taxes, transfer fees, title fees and still have room for a Realtor.

I hope they come up with a solution to finance the fees or perhaps home sellers will agree to keep paying. If not I will always take care of my people who are loyal to me and I will do whatever I can to help them.

I do have a family to consider and like you, I will make my decisions based on what is best for them. Thank you for listening to my ted talk.

Alternative Mortgage Programs In Maryland 2024

In 2024 there are lots of different ways to buy a house without 20% down and we are not talking about FHA or VA. We are going to discuss what programs are out there that people don’t know about that can help you if you are thinking about a home in 2024.

The REAL Story Of Increased Rates & Increased House Prices

So What’s The REAL Story Of Increased Rates & Increased House Prices?

People hear the news and think the market is bad but they hear other people telling them the market is great.

At the end of the day over 2/3 of homes purchased are purchased using a mortgage and this is where the real impact is felt.

 

Md Suburbs Home Prices Over 5 Years

 

 

Mortgage Rates Past 12 Months

Okay, So What?

Here is the problem… Rates have more than doubled causing payments to go up 50% in just 12 months

THEN

Home prices have increased by over 50% in the past 5 years

So… payments on houses are DOUBLE what they were!

#Real Numbers#

Okay so a 300k house in 2018 is now 500k and the payment went from $1,800/month to over $3,600/Month!!

How about a 600k home?

Here is where the problem is… a two-income family making 150k could easily afford a 600k mortgage 5 years ago when it was under 3k per month – easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Now? It’s almost $7,000 a month for the same house which now costs $900,000!

That’s a HUGE problem and it’s the reason the top of the market is struggling right now.

It’s also the reason sellers in that house won’t sell it because a similar house cost $7,000 a month… 😬

 

 

 

 

P.S. It’s more important than ever to have a trusted advisor helping you in this market. If you or someone you know needs top dollar for their home, text/call me 443-624-9398

To Upgrade Or Not Upgrade

 

Should You Spend Money To Make Money Selling Your Home?

I have spent a lot of time thinking about and making content on the subject of upgrading your home before selling. The clear answer is YES 95% of the time.

Think about it like this, if you could trade your $20 bill for a buyers $100 bill, would you do it?

“Yes, but it depends” is the answer I hear most and I get it. People don’t want to spend a bunch of money fixing up a house only to have the new buyers rip it all out and put their own stuff in.

This thinking misses several huge factors and I will try to be brief but this is important because there is a huge difference in the selling price of homes based on how they are sold and part of that process is deciding what if any upgrades to make. Here are the factors to consider when making this decision that you might not have thought about:

#1. Buyers Are Broke – Most buyers don’t have any money after buying your house. This is America… Ask yourself how many people including yourself, bought a house at top dollar then ripped out all the new flooring, paint and upgraded kitchen because it wasn’t your taste?

#2. People Make Decisions Based On How They Feel – When most people buy things, they base their decision on their feelings. Their feelings are driven by what they see and what they see is either how beautiful or ugly your house is. You want buyers to feel like they are willing to pay whatever the price is in order to get your house.

#3. People Think Upgrades/Repairs Cost 6X Their Actual Cost – In the 6X effect video below I explain how buyers estimate repairs and upgrades. They walk around and in their head take that money off your sales price. It’s true and it cost sellers ten’s of thousands of dollars.

#4 People Don’t Want To Deal With Contractors – Another thing to consider is that buyers might not be from the area and don’t know all the electricians, plumbers, kitchen and bathroom contractors like you do. They have to move in and then deal with finding a reputable company, having strangers in their home, living in a construction site, and hopefully not getting ripped off.

#5 Price Is A Function Of Supply & Demand And 50% Of Buyers Won’t Even Consider A “Fixer Upper” – I have helped buyers buy hundreds of houses and I cant tell you how many times I hear buyers tell me they only want “move in ready” because of all the factors above. The fewer buyers considering your home the lower the profit it’s basic economics.

So What Is The Solution?

I believe that it’s my job to show you all the ways you could and should get your home ready to sell for top dollar and the way I do that is to hire a professional decorator to come to your home and make recommendations.

Then you and I can sit down and determine what things will get you the most bang for the buck and if and when you decide to make upgrades I have contractors who will do them for a small fraction of what most people pay. It’s one of the ways I help my clients get top dollar for their home in todays market!

When Listing For Sale Is The Juice Worth The Squeeze?
If A Buyer Cringes, You Will Lose +20k!
What Are The Best Upgrades When Fixing Up Your House For Sale
Don't Let The 6X Effect Cost You Tons Of $$$ When Selling Your House
Learn More

P.S. Despite the news it’s still a sellers market but you need the right Realtor to get top dollar. I would love the opportunity to interview for the job of selling your home or someone you know 443-624-9398

 

So Far 2023 Is Meh But Picking Up Steam

Mortgage Application Are Down 39%

So there is certainly no boom but there is also no bust going on in the real estate market. While mortgage applications for new purchases are down 39% compared to last year, they are up compared to recent weeks.

Rates dipped to 6.2% which is the lowest since 9/22 which has caused an uptick in both purchase and refi applications from earlier in January.

The most recent forecast is that sales will be down to the lowest levels in over 10 years mostly because rates and home prices have created an environment where only those who NEED to move are moving.

No one is going to choose to move across town and give up a 3.25% rate, deal with all the costs and headaches of moving, and then get into a 6.25% rate unless there is a compelling reason.

What does it mean? It means there are fewer buyers and sellers and things are going to be very different but not bad.

Sellers are price-dropping and paying closing costs for the buyers but there is no drastic value drops and we are NOT in a buyer’s market.

 

Homebuying Hacks 2023

 

When most people think of investing in residential property, they think about buying a small house and renting it for a few hundred dollars over the mortgage.

The main problem with that plan is that in the current market, finding a house that will rent at a profit after a 6.5% mortgage is much tougher than it was a few years ago.

That’s before considering what if you go a few months with no renters, something major breaks, or you have a bad renter, (I have stories!!!) you can put your profit at serious risk.

This is why most people are not willing to invest a large portion of their savings into a residential rental property.

But…

There are more than a few ways to get into a property with less than 20% down on a risky investment.

Here is a summary of a few of the ideas we discussed in this week’s podcast

House Hacking – Rent every room individually. People are paying up to $1,000 a month for room rentals because the market for cheap rentals is so tough. A 4-5 bedroom house can make serious money with the right setup.

Non-Traditional Partnerships – Instead of buying a house as an individual or as a couple, buy a house with a friend or two and split the expenses. For many, this is much more desirable than renting or taking on a mortgage by themselves.

Own/Airbnb – Tim and I discuss a couple in Annapolis who have a new property with a $2,000 mortgage. They can rent the house for the Naval Academy Graduation and Annapolis Boat Shows for $3,000 a week. During the 4 weeks, they will cover 50% of the annual mortgage.

Traditional Airbnb – People assume Airbnb’s are only for seaside towns or places near major attractions but that’s not true. People rent basements, garage apartments and are also looking for “primitive” sites with no amenities and are willing to pay big bucks. Got an old shed at the back of the property?

To Sell Or Not To Sell, That Is The Question…

To Sell Or Not To Sell, That Is The Question…

Here is my advice:
If you NEED to move but are not sure when. The answer is yesterday, then today, then tomorrow in that order. Not the day after… I think every day that goes by will be worse than the previous day. Carpe Diem!

If you have an investment property and you don’t want to keep it for more than 5 years, sell it immediately. See above

If you have a property covered under a lease, incentivize your tenant to move. Give them cash, detail their cars, pay some of their student loan debt etc. Trying to save 5k and potentially losing 10% of your home’s value waiting until next year could cost you tens of thousands.

If you want to move but don’t have to move, you are likely not moving anyway because the payments on houses have doubled. Only people who NEED to move will jump in.

If you want/need to BUY and are thinking about waiting. DON’T WAIT! The Fed said they will raise rates two more times in 2022 and again next year.

If you are looking to purchase an investment property, wait. There will be deals, now is not the time to jump. Hang on

If you own your home outright in cash and want to move. I would sell it and rent where you want to live for at least the winter and see how things go.

You can write the lease in a way that allows you the option to break it and that way you can look for deals. Rent and wait for the perfect house that will likely cost less than it does today.

Bottom line_______ Tomorrow will NOT be better than today for anyone

What 10% Interest Rates Will Do To The Real Estate Market 2022

I Contemplated Turning In My Real Estate License

 

I was brainstorming about what we could talk about in our next video and I asked Tim to send me some info on long-term interest rates. Like, what will rates be in 1,3, and 5 years from now…

Seems like an interesting topic, I was secretly hoping he would send me a chart showing 4.5% and holding forever

When he sent it to me, I was shocked… I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I actually called a buddy who is a contractor to see what it would take to get into the contracting business.

I thought I could be a good contractor because I would always deliver a great product, I don’t do drugs or drink, and frankly, there is a shortage of stand-up guys who can do what they say, at the given price, and come close to the promised timeline.

Why? 9.55% interest on a 30-year fixed mortgage in 2026 …Whaaaaaaaa?(think minions lol) I got a chill down my spine and I thought this is it, I am done. No one will buy a house at 10% interest. If they did they would never pay what people are asking for houses today and it would either crash the market or freeze it entirely

Either of those scenarios is a death blow to me. I am a single-income household and if we don’t sell houses, we don’t eat.

Buying New Construction Advice

What To Watch Out For
& What You Need To Know

 

Ever Thought About Buying New Construction?

You get to build it your way, no fist fighting 20 buyers on your offer, and you lock in all the details upfront. What could go wrong right? Is wrong right proper grammar?

Well, lots can go wrong… Chances are you never read that 100-page contract, and chances are that the terms are not in your favor. Also, the sales rep works for the builder!!!

How To Sell & Buy In 2022

The Ol’ Sell & Buy…

Back in our day we just found a house while ours was under contract and it was super easy. Back then, people were just happy someone wanted to buy their house.

Nowadays, if you slip up and tell a home seller you have a house to sell first, they might try to fist-fight you before telling you to get off their property!

Okay but seriously, this process has become super angsty because the houses are selling SO fast and there are barely any to buy. If you do find one, you need to sell a kidney, agree to pay 50k over, sight unseen, and you need to decide in the next 30 minutes…

There is a huge (and somewhat realistic) fear that if you sell, you set off a ticking timebomb, and with nothing to buy, this could get ugly.

Like looking for a camper ugly (multiple clients did this and liked it) or as one client is dealing with, his wife rolled out to the Sunshine State while he is Motel 6ing it!

Have no fear, using this process you can make it super smooth. Almost…