Traditional Brokers Fighting Pro-Consumer Changes Now Claiming They Are Part Of It

The momentum surrounding the Department of Justice’s filing against the NAR is causing some companies to claim responsibility -- in fact, they fought it

REX works on behalf of American consumers. We’ve put consumers first since our founding. Based on our values, we chose sides early. We chose the side of working families, not well-funded real estate lobbyists and their friends in government. 

Proudly, REX has never been a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which is a defendant in a slew of federal lawsuits targeting the lobby group’s predatory practices that make homeownership a luxury good for the affluent. 

Just last week, the United States Department of Justice launched an antitrust suit against the NAR and their network of Multiple Listing Services, or MLSs, the network where many consumers, until REX, have traditionally gone go to buy and sell their homes. 

Partaking with such an anti-consumer outfit as the NAR—even if it meant fitting in with our competitors—would be antithetical to our mission and values. 

As the only real estate brokerage which does not use the NAR and MLS, REX is the only company that can honestly attest to our wholehearted dedication to this mission. Everyone else—Redfin, Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams, Century 21 and others— have supported the NAR and the MLSs which put agents before consumers. REX is the only company that has been fighting these organizations.

Unfortunately, the ongoing shift of momentum against the NAR and MLS due to the US government’s actions against them is causing other firms to emerge and attempt to claim responsibility for the change being imposed on them by REX and the US government.  For instance Redfin’s CEO Glenn Kelman has already made a statement. “This is big,” Kelman wrote. “No one knows better than Redfin how hard it is for an agent to offer homebuyers a better deal when the fees brokerages charge are a secret.” No one knows better because Redfin has been supporting the NAR and the MLSs and their price secrecy for over 15 years now, partaking in a system that charges consumers two to three times what brokers receive in other developed countries. It’s hard to support an organization so fervently for so long, and now say like Captain Renault in Casablanca, “I am shocked that there is gambling going on here”, while the entire time he has been collecting his winnings. 

REX knows better.  To be clear, RE/MAX, Redfin, Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams, Compass, Century 21 and all the other incumbents have not been on the side of the consumer. They have relied on the NAR and MLS to sell homes and their sellers have been obligated to pay a buyer’s agent commission, they have compelled the sellers to agree to the MLS rule NOT to tell the buyer the fee that the buyer’s agent is receiving, and have been part of the cartel that had been keeping firms like REX from showing homes with our lower fees with the only purpose to keep their fees up. Keller Williams, Redfin, Century 21, and their large colleagues have benefitted from the structure of the system, paid into it for more than 15 years, and only now retreat from it because the U.S. Department of Justice is putting an end to their anti-consumer practices.

REX has also been keenly aware of the comparison between our pro-consumer model. Earlier this year, I wrote: “For all the technological advancements Redfin claims to have, they still rely on the antiquated MLS, forcing their sellers to compensate both agents in the transaction.”

The NAR claims that “most of the changes” the DOJ filing seeks to make are in line with “what is already the spirit and intent” of the NAR and MLS policies. It’s hard to believe that an organization would witness the adverse reality of their policies’ effects on consumers and simply accept that it was done in the right “spirit and intent.” U.S. consumers have paid an average of $60 billion in excess fees every year for the last ten years, because of the system which Compass, Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, Remax, Redfin, Sothebys and the others have supported. The NAR has tried to laugh off previous civil suits against them. John Smaby, President of the NAR, called a still-ongoing 2019 case against them “wrong on the facts, wrong on the economics and wrong on the law.” That was before two federal judges flatly reflected the NAR’s pathetic anti-consumer defenses in court. 

The bottom line is that NAR upheld a system that puts consumers last for decades — and companies like Coldwell Banker, Compass, Century 21, and all the others mentioned above actively supported this system for years. 

REX has always been firmly planted on the side of the American consumers, with proof to show it. REX has accomplished nearly $30 million in savings for our customers. We’ve also been instrumental in helping the U.S. DOJ form the case against the NAR and its MLS members, a case which will continue to build. Redfin and similar companies can feel the ship starting to sink — and want to act like they have never seen it before. They have been driving it.

Jack Ryan
CEO & Co-Founder

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