DOJ, FTC Investigate Real Estate Commission Policies

Home sale commissions are under investigation by the Biden administration, which has asked the Federal Trade Commission to adopt rules to address any unfair practices it sees in the real estate industry, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Justice Department is investigating commissions after several civil lawsuits challenging industry rules passed muster in procedural challenges. Critics of traditional broker fees say rising home prices have highlighted an epidemic of excessive fees. Real estate agent fees are typically 5%-6% of the sale price. Homebuyers end up paying part of these fees through the purchase price but have little control over fees because they are set by the seller. Consumer advocates have specifically pointed to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) rules…

NAR: Student Loan Debt Major Barrier To Homeownership

After eight years of examining its impact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says that student loan debt is one of the most significant barriers for potential homebuyers. A poll by NAR found that more than half of non-homeowners say their student loan debt has delayed their ability to buy a home. Of 1,995 respondents, 51% said their student loan debt delayed them from buying a home, with 47% saying it prevents them from saving for a down payment. For millennials, that number jumps to 60%. Forty-six percent of debt holders say they would use their additional funds to buy a home if their loans weren’t an issue. “Housing affordability is worsening, leaving future home buyers with student debt at…

NAR, Zillow Antitrust Lawsuit Moves Forward

A U.S. District Court judge denied motions by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Zillow to dismiss an antitrust challenge from the real-estate tech company Real Estate Exchange (REX), saying that REX provided sufficient evidence that NAR and Zillow conspired to restrain trade and to harm consumers. REX sued on the grounds that a NAR segregation rule— a rule followed by Zillow that separates new technology listings on its site from traditional broker listings in a different tab, titled “Other Listings”– violates antitrust and consumer protection laws. They argued the policy privileges traditional broker models that include 5-6% commission fees for buyers. REX said the “Other Listings” tab was a “recessed, obscured, and deceptive tab that consumers do not…