A major settlement could spell an end to 6% real estate commissions The National Association of Realtors has reached a national settlement that could change the way real estate agents are paid. Critics say the current system keeps commissions artificially high.

A major settlement could spell an end to 6% real estate commissions

A major settlement could spell an end to 6% real estate commissions

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A "Sale Pending" sign is posted in front of a home for sale on Nov. 30, 2023, in San Anselmo, California. Real estate agents face lower commissions after a major settlement has upended the way Americans buy and sell homes. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A "Sale Pending" sign is posted in front of a home for sale on Nov. 30, 2023, in San Anselmo, California. Real estate agents face lower commissions after a major settlement has upended the way Americans buy and sell homes.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The National Association of Realtors has reached a nationwide settlement that could change the way real estate agents are compensated. Critics say the current system artificially inflates agents' commissions.

For years, sellers have effectively set the commission paid to buyers' agents as a condition of using a multiple listing service (MLS) — a regional roundup of homes for sale. The combined commission — shared by buyers' and sellers' agents — is typically 5% to 6%, which is higher than in most other countries.

There's also a potential conflict in having the home seller decide how much the buyer's agent is paid, since they have different objectives in negotiating a home sale.

Under the settlement, commissions will be subject to more negotiation, which could lower the cost of buying and selling a home. It could also drive some real estate agents out of business. Home sellers can still offer a commission to the buyer's agent, but that will no longer be a condition of using an MLS.

The National Association of Realtors lost a $1.8 billion jury verdict last year and was facing other lawsuits over the commission structure. The penalty threatened to put the organization into bankruptcy.

As part of the settlement, the National Association of Realtors did not admit to any wrongdoing but agreed to pay $418 million over the next four years.

The settlement still needs approval from a federal judge. The changes to real estate commissions are set to take effect in July.