Reflecting on the NAR Lawsuit: The Importance of Communication in Real Estate Commissions

The recent verdict against the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and other real estate entities has brought an often-overlooked aspect of the real estate transaction process to light: the clear communication of commission structures between agents and their clients. While the case has drawn attention to the mechanics of commission setting, it has also underscored the necessity for real estate professionals to provide in-depth explanations to their clients regarding how commissions work.

Key Takeaways from the Case

A jury in Kansas City concluded on Tuesday, October 31st, that the practices upheld by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) led to a lack of competition, which in turn kept commission rates at a standard 5 to 6 percent. Central to the lawsuit was the NAR rule that mandated sellers to offer a preset commission rate when listing homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The argument was that this non-negotiable rate stifled competition and prevented commission rates from reflecting the true dynamics of the free market.

However, it is crucial to note that the core issue raised by the plaintiffs was not merely the commission rates themselves but the alleged lack of transparent communication about how these rates are set and their implications for home sellers.

The Verdict and Its Implications

Jurors awarded substantial damages, signaling a call for a shift in how commissions are presented and negotiated in real estate transactions. This does not immediately transform commission structures but instead places a spotlight on the need for transparency.

Real Estate Agents’ Role in Client Education

The case has brought to the forefront the responsibility agents have in ensuring their clients fully understand the commission process. It’s not just about the percentage paid but about who pays the commission, how it is divided, and what services are included. Clients must feel confident that they are making informed decisions about one of the most significant financial transactions of their lives.

Industry Response to the Verdict

The industry’s response, particularly NAR’s intention to appeal, suggests a defense of the existing commission models as being beneficial when executed with transparency. The emphasis from the NAR and other real estate firms points to a need for agents to better articulate these structures, ensuring that sellers and buyers are not just aware of the commission rates but also comprehend their impact and rationale.

The Necessity for Clarity in a Changing Landscape

The lawsuit reflects the changing expectations of consumers who demand clarity and detail in all aspects of service provisions. Real estate agents are now reminded more than ever of the importance of walking their clients through the nuances of real estate transactions, including commission structures. This approach not only aids in maintaining trust but also empowers consumers to make knowledgeable decisions.

Moving Forward with Enhanced Communication

As the real estate industry contemplates the outcomes of this lawsuit and the potential for change, the consistent theme is the enhancement of agent-client communication. Agents who prioritize transparent discussions about commissions will not only navigate this new landscape more successfully but will also build stronger relationships with their clients, fostering trust and professionalism in the industry.


While the NAR lawsuit has indeed raised questions about commission structures, it has also highlighted a valuable lesson for the real estate industry: the indispensable need for clear, comprehensive communication between agents and their clients regarding commissions. As the dialogue continues and the industry evolves, this focus on transparency will be pivotal in shaping the future of real estate services.

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