BAM Key Details:

  • President Biden delivered remarks on lowering costs for American families, including housing affordability.
  • During his speech, he addressed the NAR settlement, stating that Americans buying or selling a home can negotiate commissions “for the first time.”
  • The same day, NAR responded to the remarks, stating “the President unfortunately repeated incorrect claims…”

On March 19 in Las Vegas, President Biden spoke about his administration’s housing initiatives to address housing affordability. Details of the initiatives were released earlier this month, and the response from industry professionals and consumers alike has been mixed.

But what really caught the industry’s attention during the March 19 remarks was what Biden said about the recent proposed settlement that The National Association of Realtors (NAR) agreed to.

Biden’s Remarks on the NAR Settlement 

After discussing a new tax credit “that will give Americans $400 a month for the next two years,” and a policy to waive title insurance during refinancing, Biden briefly touched on NAR’s settlement. You can watch these remarks starting at 15:28 of the speech. 

“In addition, last week, the National Association of Realtors agreed for the first time that Americans can negotiate lower commissions when they buy or sell their home. 

“On a typical home purchase, that alone could save folks an average of $10,000 on the sale or purchase. I’m calling on Realtors to follow through on lowering their commissions to protect home buyers.”

While members of the audience applauded his statement about the settlement, the industry knows this follows a false narrative that has been appearing in national media outlets since the news of the settlement broke in the New York Times on March 15, 2024. Namely, real estate agent commissions have historically been negotiable. 

From there, Biden segued into discriminatory practices in housing valuation, which contribute to disparities in housing affordability, particularly among marginalized communities. 

During his speech, he also spoke about the necessity to “build, build, build” in order to create more housing inventory. You can watch the full speech here.

NAR’s Response to Biden’s Remarks

The same day of President Biden’s speech, NAR issued the following response, seeking to clear up false information: 

“While the National Association of REALTORS® appreciates President Biden’s continued focus on the affordable housing crisis, the President unfortunately repeated incorrect claims that the recently announced settlement agreement allows Americans to negotiate commissions for the first time. Commissions were already negotiable before this resolution was reached and will continue to be negotiable as they have been.

“Real estate agent commissions are driven by the market and are not the cause of the affordability crisis. Until there is an all of government approach to a historic lack of inventory and supply in communities across the country, the dream of homeownership will remain out of reach for millions of middle-class Americans.

“NAR commends President Biden for recognizing the need to build a stronger housing supply, and we will continue to work with his administration and Congress, as well as in statehouses across the country, to fight for policy proposals intended to make homeownership more affordable and accessible for all Americans.”

The industry knows there is a plethora of misinformation in the media and online. While this cannot be undone, real estate professionals can continue to do what they’ve always done: educate consumers in their local communities while delivering value to their clients.