In a video released yesterday by the National Association of Realtors, interim CEO Nykia Wright issued a statement to “set the record straight” on three specific hot-button issues:

  1. Agent commissions—and whether NAR controls how much agents get paid
  2. Rival associations—like the one Mauricio Umansky and Jason Haber announced
  3. Agent services—and whether consumers even need real estate agents 

She starts off by acknowledging what recent events and influences have done to public perception of real estate agents. 

The real estate profession has been vilified by certain plaintiffs’ lawyers, sensationalized by a few reporters, and misrepresented by people who know little about this business.

Nykia Wright

Interim CEO of the National Association of Realtors®

The video lasted less than two minutes, with Wright summing up each issue and NAR’s official response to it. It’s worth a listen. 

Read on for a quick overview. 

Agent commissions—Does NAR dictate or enforce a minimum commission rate?

Ms. Wright starts by addressing the issue behind recent and ongoing commission lawsuits against NAR and a slew of other real estate defendants they’re allegedly conspiring with to fix agent commissions. 

First, the notion that the National Association of Realtors controls what real estate professionals get paid is wholly untrue. NAR does not set commissions. And it never will. Period. End of story. But there are many things NAR actually does to help our members better serve buyers and sellers.

Nykia Wright

Interim CEO of the National Association of Realtors®

The two sentences in bold are emphasized for a reason. The first release of Wright’s video was removed a couple hours after its debut before NAR reposted it with a slight but significant change. 

It removed the words, “It never has” from the sentence now rendered as “And it never will,” acknowledging that NAR has set commissions in the past but no longer does so. Before 1950, it was against the code of ethics to charge less than a standard commission, according to a 1983 study by the Federal Trade Commission. 

As Wright is talking, graphics in the video present some of the things NAR does to help its members: 

  • Resources & Research
  • Advocacy
  • Professional Certifications

And that segues nicely to the next topic: rival associations.

Rival associations—like Umansky and Haber’s AREA

The unbothered expression on Wright’s face speaks volumes without her ever having to call out a specific rival association by name. 

There’s no derision, no roll of the eyes, just calm certainty that NAR has nothing to worry about. 

Second, there’s some talk about a new association. We welcome competition from anyone who can match our impact and deliver the kind of value we bring.

Nykia Wright

Interim CEO of the National Association of Realtors®

Whether she’s right not to be concerned about the competition—specifically the American Association of Realtors (AREA), which Mauricio Umansky and Jason Haber are currently building—remains to be seen. 

But Wright delivers the unshakeable “bring it on” response like she was born for it. 

Agent services—What do agents do that consumers can’t get from the internet?

Wright saves the “Let me make one thing abundantly clear” point for last to drive home the value real estate agents (not NAR specifically) provide just by doing their jobs. 

Finally, let me make one thing abundantly clear: the internet can be a tool, but it is not a replacement for the essential services agents who are Realtors provide. A real estate transaction is not a simple click and purchase like buying a plane ticket online. Most Americans choose to use a real estate professional when buying or selling a home—not because they’re required to but because of the help that one provides in navigating the challenges that are a part of the process of buying or selling a home. No amount of scrolling on the internet can replace having a professional by your side during what can be a complex, unfamiliar, and lengthy process.

Nykia Wright

Interim CEO of the National Association of Realtors®

Visuals back up that third sentence with the statistic that 9 out of 10 Americans choose to work with a real estate agent rather than navigate the homebuying or selling process without one. 

You’ll also see a list of the challenges consumers face with these transactions—challenges a skilled real estate agent is well-equipped to handle, guiding their client every step of the way to the best possible outcome. 

We take pride in the work we do, and we’ll continue to help sellers walk away having sold at a competitive price—and buyers get the keys to their dream homes.

Nykia Wright

Interim CEO of the National Association of Realtors®

This is NAR saying, “We know we’re being sued to the moon and back for something we’re actually not doing, but we’re going to keep doing what we do best. We’re not going anywhere.” 

Wright doesn’t apologize for anything in this video. She briefly and succinctly addresses three specific concerns and wraps up by saying, “We’re proud” of what NAR is and does, with no looking back at the scandals or at NAR’s faceplant in the Sitzer/Burnett courtroom. 

After all, why look back when there’s plenty to focus on in the present? 

Stay tuned as we learn more about the Sitzer/Burnett appeal, copycat lawsuits, and the development of AREA.