REX Golf Claps National Association of Realtors “Reforms”
Realtors’ Really Small Move Is Minimally Adequate for Consumers
REX Senior Vice President and General Counsel Michael Toth responded to the National Association of Realtors (NAR)'s vote to give consumers the smallest amount of competition and transparency possible with a tepid golf clap today.
This week, NAR took the smallest step possible as it adapts to operating in the face of antitrust litigation and investigation. After stripping its policy proposals from any real change, NAR took a minor step towards transparency by requiring Internet Data Exchange (IDX) websites to display a listing broker’s phone number or email addresses next to listings and by permitting—and no longer blocking—brokers to share commission information. Before the United States Justice Department brought a lawsuit against NAR in November 2020, the trade association prohibited disclosing to consumers the broker fees charged on homes for sale.
In September, REX Co-Founder and CEO Jack Ryan urged NAR to “showcase its new commitment to competition and to housing accessibility by making several changes such as rescinding its Segregation Rule, supporting rollbacks of anti-rebate rules,” among others. NAR, however, failed to consider changing various policies which currently prevent hundreds of thousands of Americans from achieving the American Dream of homeownership.
Today, REX Senior Vice President Michael Toth responded to NAR’s perfunctory changes by stating, “It’s shocking that a policy change is needed to allow homebuyers to see what they’re paying for. While NAR pats itself on the back for what it considers monumental reform, the reality is its actions were the smallest baby steps possible at a time when housing costs are at historically high levels and Americans are forced to absorb dangerous levels of inflation.”
Last month, the Justice Department pointed out in a legal filing related to its renewed investigation into NAR, “Recent technological advances have spurred innovation and price competition across other sectors of the economy. Yet real estate commissions have barely budged as a percentage of home prices and have actually increased as home prices have outpaced inflation. Even a modest injection of competition into real estate brokerage could save consumers billions of dollars per year.”
In addition to the twenty-part DOJ investigation, NAR is currently facing three private lawsuits, including one from REX, which challenge NAR’s mandatory commission rules. NAR’s attempt to dismiss all three cases were rejected and each case has been greenlit for discovery.