Used Car Salesmen, Trial Lawyers and Real Estate Agents

[Editor’s Note: It’s been a while since I added a new contributor to our mix here at Rain City Guide, but when Gordon Stephenson showed some interest (after at least two years of requests by me!), I can’t help but be excited to have him on board! Gordon is the Co-owner and Managing Broker of Real Property Associates. I first came across Gordon when Zillow added him to their Board of Directors in July of ’05, and have run into him both online and offline since then. He’s a great guy and a virtual real estate institution in Seattle, so I couldn’t be happier to bring him on board as a contributor!]

When I started selling real estate fresh out of college, nearly 20 years ago, my parents were confused, even apoplectic: “You just earned this degree and you’re choosing to sell real estate? How are you going to pay back your student loans? Couldn’t you have done that with a GED?

110 thoughts on “Used Car Salesmen, Trial Lawyers and Real Estate Agents

  1. Hi Gordon,

    Welcome to RCG.

    I’ve been thinking about the idea of transparency here and if it is true that consumers want assistance, wouldn’t they prefer to pay for what they’re getting? By this, I mean a full-time, well qualified, experienced agent might be worth more to me than a brand new or part-time agent.

    I’m wondering if I would be more likely to pay a higher commission to an agent like Doug Holman or if I would be more likely to pay a lower commission to Part-Time or New Agent X. The answer seems multifactorial.

    Yet maybe I am more likely to want an agent like Doug but pay as low a commission as possible. Where there’s work to be done is in the transparency that commissions are negotiable, and all this should be talked about at the very beginning.

    It seems to me that this is a conversation that many (not all) agents are uncomfortable having with their clients.

    I have hired attorneys in the past. When doing so, their fee is always disclosed to me right up front along with the description of what it is they can and cannot do. Maybe an informed consent process is in the future for real estate agents that want to be thought of along the same professional lines as an attorney or doctor.

    What do you think?

  2. Welcome Gordon!

    Someone recently said to me that due to hot market conditions they spent more time picking a head of lettuce than their home.

    I think a slower market and more stable lending practices will have many advantages, including some that you have stated in your post.

  3. I think the answer is that agents need to move to an hourly charge system like other professionals. They can then compete on basis that makes much more sense, you get what you pay for. A big reason agents get a bad rap is that a shit agent gets the same 3% as a really good agent. While word-of-mouth can help balance this out to get rid of poor performing agents, the bad rap the profession gets shows it is not balancing enough.

  4. Someone please help me.

    1. Why shouldn’t all agents earn a 4 year degree in RE in college? Why can’t there be degrees offered specifically for agents?

    2. What does having advanced degrees in other professions have anything to do with making u a good agent?

    3. Should there be a minimum amount of experience hours before one can practice?

  5. Welcome Gordon!

    I loved working with you (and Doug) as an agent and look forward to reading all your posts! This is a great start and looks at many of the issues we are facing out there!

  6. Jillayne, Ardell & Courtney — Thanks for the greetings! And thanks to Dustin for encouraging me to post & for the flattering intro.

    Jillayne: As far as “getting what you pay for” in an agent, to large degree the market takes care of this for you. If you’re doing a high end deal, that 3% is going to buy the best, most experienced agents out there. There will be lots of interest in helping you out. If you’re a first time buyer looking at $200,000 condos in Everett, not so much — the uber agents typically won’t take the time to do a deal that not only pays a lot less, but can actually take much more time to do well (educate a buyer, work through minimum down financing, show lots of inventory, etc.).

    I knew one of these great agents who used to market on this basis: “If you’re paying 3% anyway, why not get the most experienced, the best agent that you can get? I’m that guy!” I thought he had a good point.

  7. b – you make a good point about an “hourly charge system” and I think the industry is starting to create more types of fee-for-service options. I know our company has done hourly fee consulting for years as an alternative to the pure commission model. But the public still seems to prefer having an agent with “skin in the game.” We don’t get paid until we perform, and then we get paid well.

    Or maybe the great agents should do a lower end, first time homeowner deal every now and then — like a top attorney might do a pro bono case. I think it would help ensure that the entry tier of buyers have a good experience with their process.

    Or maybe the market can just self-select the bad agents out of business. Agent ratings and things like that which we’re seeing more of online will help this along.

  8. Q-diddy:
    1. Why shouldn’t all agents earn a 4 year degree in RE in college? Why can’t there be degrees offered specifically for agents?

    >I’m sure there is a four year RE degree offered somewhere. Maybe WSU’s Center for RE? More helpful I think are the advanced creditials that you can get once you’re licensed.

    2. What does having advanced degrees in other professions have anything to do with making u a good agent?

    >Great question. Maybe if it’s an MBA or JD some people would perceive the agent to have some higher knowledge or credibility. I’ve seen one agent with “MD” on their sign. I can’t imagine that helps much with making them a good agent, unless it’s to prescribe antidepressants when the listing doesn’t sell 🙂

    3. Should there be a minimum amount of experience hours before one can practice?

    >I think this would be great. Lots of industries which maybe have less potential impact on the consumer require years of apprenticeship. Many RE companies require new agents to act as runners, or assistants, to more experienced agents, before letting them loose.

  9. Gordon – I went to WSU so be nice, but I actually believe it or not know someone who got a RE degree from WSU. He is working an accounts payable job and has never used it, although I have tried to convince him to. I got the accounting degree and am doing real estate – kind of weird how things work out I guess.

  10. Its all about earning a fair wage for work performed. I earn over a 100.00 an hour with each client I work with. I pay my client 3 x what I get because he/she helps me find their home.

    Its not rocket science! People love to look for their home. Imagine that!! But, they need to be let in to their prospective home and they need representation on their behalf.

    Times are changing rapidly and the public is realizing it quicker now more then ever.

    Agents deserve a fair hourly wage and I’m receiving one each and everyday.

    Educate Yourself Washington!

  11. I average over 100.00 an hour when working with a client. Do I need to get paid more? Absolutely NOT! I’m not performing surgery!!

    So instead I give back 75% of what I get to the person who hired me. Imagine that?

    Real Estate is changing faster then I ever thought it would to the benefit of the consumer. But those who try to HIDE and WITH HOLD information on how to buy are the ones who will be left behind!

  12. I always thought a real estate agent is a cool job and offers alot of choices guess thats why I like it. As with all jobs we have had to adapt to the current technologies and customer styles and request all keeping in mind the local and current market. It’s a fascinating job and rewarding nothing like buying a house to make you feel great and sharing that on a daily basis is a rewarding in itself.

  13. Gordon,
    Nice post.

    The 80-20 rules applies to real estate agents as well as most things in life. Approx 80% of all agents are part time or hobbyists. The industry is full of the part time agents who have well connected spouses that feed them a deal now and then for extra money.

    About 20% of the agent workforce is “professional” full time with a “breadwinner’s” mentality with real estate as their primary source of income.

    The full time professional is most likely to spend time and money on education, professional coaching and attending seminars. They stay current with the market, learning and understanding the nuances of the market to best help their clients. They learn how to negotiate professionally. They take the legal classes and are in-tune to industry changes. They network within the industry and work hard to improve the industry within.

    You touched upon an idea most consumers don’t realize. When an agent NEEDS THE MONEY, it makes it very hard to put their client’s interest ahead of their own. Agents with mature practices, who have a predictable stream of clients, don’t even think about money while they’re in process with their current client.

    The demise of the real agent is a popular topic that gets bantered about.

    Here’s the dirty little secret:

    When markets tighten, the professional agent’s business gets stronger. People inherently know that they need a better quality of market and negotiating skill and look for talent in tough markets. Quality referrals increase because friends and family also know the market is tougher and want to make sure the people they care about are taken care of.

    When markets tighten, the part timers and hobbyist starts to see that it’s not worth their time and effort and quit paying their broker and their MLS dues.

    The markets of the last 3-4 years were an anomaly. Our current market is a more normal market. Personally, I don’t want to see the return of the super heated market anytime soon.

  14. Always look for your home…………Just never …………EVER……………Call the name on the SIGN!!

    Educate yourself and YOU the BUYER!! Earn the commission!!

    Hire an AGENT to find you a home? You know what you want…You know where you want to live………Now go look for it!

  15. I always thought the 80/20 rule applied to salespeople in general.

    I wonder if that rule applies to professionals such as doctors and lawyers. By raising the bar for an entire group, the 80/20 rule would likely even out.

    This support’s Q-diddy’s questions in comment 4.

  16. I was getting my hair cut last week and asked the guy doing the cutting how many hours of education were needed to get a license for dressing hair. The answer was that it takes close to 5 times the hours (in Texas) that getting a real estate license takes. Which is more critical – a $20 hair cut or the purchase of a $200,000 house? Makes me wonder why it so simple to get a real estate license. If we had to take a year’s worth of classes, I’ll bet that a lot of the agents who give us all a bad name wouldn’t be in the business.

  17. I can appreciate why some consumers think income earned should be more closely connected to energy spent, aka an hourly wage. Some consumers are really on top of their situation. These buyers know where they want to live, what they want and will be decisive when necessary. The same goes for some sellers. They can set their own price and handle their own negotiations. These people will simply require less hours of paid expertise and there are models out there that give back some of those unused dollars.

    Many more folks however have an idea of they want but quickly realize there is more to it than browsing new listings on the internet. Neighborhoods, schools, style choices, the temperature of the market, negotiating, structural issues, zoning issues, financing issues and so on are all more complicated then first realized.

    I have a current client who began looking for a condo in one the new high rises downtown. She had lived downtown before and is a classic dink. We went up and down every relevant glass and steel high rise. As sure as she was that downtown was going to be it, it wasn’t. Too little space, not dog friendly, all sizzle no steak. We moved on to townhomes, an option that still represented freedom from yard care, urban living and contemporary versus paint required. Guess what, something not quite right there either. Now were looking at single family homes. I respect this person enough to let her work through the process of coming to terms with what she really wants while trying to be as efficient as possible with her time and mine.

    Most buyers and sellers, some begrudgingly, come to appreciate that good agents earn their keep. In hindsight they realize that the average transaction, whether buyer or seller, involves a serious amount of hours and expertise. Sometimes the commission just isn’t earned and there is no sugar coating it. Ardell has spoken on this, the basis of her annual give back. There are deals of course that never come to together. Buyers who expect an agent to remain engaged in an unrealistic search for months upon months or sellers who release an agent only to reduce price with the successor agent. I’m not convinced there’s a solution to this circumstance that isn’t already being handled by the many choices in the open marketplace.

  18. “When markets tighten, the professional agent’s business gets stronger. People inherently know that they need a better quality of market and negotiating skill and look for talent in tough markets. Quality referrals increase because friends and family also know the market is tougher and want to make sure the people they care about are taken care of.”

    That may be true, but “professional agents” sure seem to get grumpy when it is pointed out that the RE market is tightening. You’d think that they would be rejoicing in the prospective windfall, and happily encouraging talk of a bad market…

  19. I disagree…..As markets tighten the consumer begins to look for every “edge” they can get. Money is not free flowing anymore. When buying they need the extra 10k plus to close, or for home furnishings. Times are changing rapidly and the next few years will prove my point.

    The commission paid to the BUYERS Agent will become more and more split between Agent and Consumer. The consumer will assist their Agent more and more and will be paid for their efforts.

    Just watch what comes down the pike. You will be stunned. The brick and mortar Brokerages will be quickly adapting to this change in the coming years……BOOK IT! But, we as a consumer will be better for it….!!

  20. Hi Sam,

    I had that same dialogue with the owner of the salon I frequent. He said that yes, the hours required to obtain a cosmetology license are high, however he also said that the reason why is because cosmetologists handle lots of different chemicals and not knowing how to mix the chemicals could bring great harm to their client.

    He also pointed out that there is no mandatory continuing ed once they have their license.

    I like the questions that Q-diddy is asking about requiring formalized education in RE, however, I also freely admit that this is self-serving since that is what I do.

    The industry as a whole group would need to come together and make the decision to elevate educational standards, make the exam tougher, require more continuing ed, and perhaps decide to put an apprentice program in place, similar to what the appraisal industry has done.

    Notice that the appraisers have ALREADY come out with solutions to snuff out the bad-apple appraisers as part of the New York state settlement that will take effect nationwide by 1/1/09.

    The mortgage folks haven’t even been able to get together as a group yet. Instead, they’ve split into two camps: Bankers and brokers and they’re fighting for what’s in each group’s own best interests instead of looking at a bigger picture. This will delay solutions and lead to more and harsher government laws.

    The RE industry can change, but the whole group will need to come together. The interests of all agents need to be represented, not just the interests of the industry business owners.

    What’s good for corporate stockholders isn’t necessarily what’s good for the independent agents.

    We’ve talked about this before here on RCG.

  21. “I think most agents want a healthy market. It serves no one to participate in “happily encouraging talk of a bad market….

  22. Greg, I like this type of market too, it doesn’t favor either side quite so much — at least in Seattle. Outlying areas seem to be more of a buyer’s market. Really, the only fun thing about the superheated market of ’99-2005 was that all of the people we sold houses to between ’89 and ’99 become equity rich (or cash rich if they refinanced their equity out. Or toy rich if they spent those refinance proceeds on consumer stuff.).

    Affluent Renter, why are you bitter? Your posts don’t seem vitriolic.

    As for finding the best agents available, it’s been interesting to see some local builders fire their “dirt brokers” to whom they have traditionally been beholden for listbacks (listings on the finished spec homes), in favor of more traditional marketing type agents whom they perceive to be better equipped to move their product. I haven’t seen that “breach” of loyalty really ever, but it’s totally understandable. And in some cases, the builder’s bankers are “encouraging” the change if the listings aren’t moving.

  23. “Affluent Renter, why are you bitter? Your posts don’t seem vitriolic.”

    It is the leetle joke – since a standard RE agent putdown of anyone questioning real estate as an investment is to dismiss them as “jealous bitter renters”. At this point I’d insert the commercial about how well my investments have done over the last ten years (without having to use leveraged money), but maybe I should wait to see if we still have a functioning financial system at the end of the month. Given the news from New York, I’m starting to wonder about that…

  24. Nope – I don’t think I can outguess the market (well, I didn’t start heavily investing in stocks until after the tech selloff), so its been pure buy and hold. I was thinking of pulling money out of the market in December, but didn’t. I may end up regretting that decision…

  25. I used trial lawyers as it was specific that way in the “least admired” list which I referenced. You have to admit, lawyer jokes aside, that at least SOME are excellent and productive. Of course, check out their ratings before buying:

  26. I agree that people will always need someone to assist in the biggest purchase of their life, and that someone needs to be paid. But it should not be percentage-based, it should be fee-based. Is there more work in finding a home for a buyer of a $250k condo vs. a $500k house? I would argue that the amount of work is more dependent on the buyer, and how demanding they are, and not the object being bought.

  27. I agree with Bryant. Someone making many unreasonable offers that all fail is much more costly and time consuming than someone who acts appropriately to the situation, regardless of price of “object”. In a buyer’s market, you don’t want people to overpay. But submitting 20 offers at 70% of asking price should come with a very hefty price tag for service.

  28. So what is the solution? Hourly agents will never have mass appeal. Only a very small number will be willing to front a fee. On top of that, when you go hourly, incentives change from satisfying the client to booking hours. Isn’t that how many people feel about attorneys, that they pad their hours? Do you put in a floor and a ceiling? No less than $3000 no more than $10,000? All of these things fly in the face of a free market. There are plenty of commission based businesses. Do they all need oversight or intensive regulation? Sellers don’t have to sign listing agreements at 6%. They have so many choices it’s hard to process. Buyers can use redfin or zip or negotiate their own situation. I personally think the free market is working. It will never be completely efficient or always equitable. I’m all for transparency so perhaps some state regs regarding how commissions work, up front, would be good. Maybe in 10 years there will be an alternative to the NWMLS with a completely different model. Right now the model, a privately run collection and collaboration of agents and brokers, works pretty darn well.

  29. Based on a lot of experimenting over the last 2 plus years, a flat fee paid at closing seems to work best. Easier for people to understand a nice round number, (more transparency) and more fairness to people buying and selling property priced over $500,000.

    Not much difference to anyone buying or selling at $300,000 or less though, in my experience. They would still be better off with Redfin and other alternative business models.

  30. What do you have your agents at Brio do? Do you dictate some guidelines or let them decide for themselves what works best?

    Can the flat fee equal > 6% on a lower end deal, or a complicated transaction (e.g. $130,000 Kent condo, or a raw land sale)?

  31. Doug-

    I like your suggestion about more transparency and clarity and I suggest the following.

    1. A tiering structure on fees paid, ie., cap and floor.

    2. Stricter licensing standards and less tests given per year.

    3. More minimum education required. 4 year degrees, continuing education certificate, experience hours clocked, etc.

    4. Base salary for agents

    5. Independant rating scale

    6. Tax break for fees paid ( do we already have something like this?)

  32. Q-diddy-

    I think you misunderstood me a bit!

    Structured fees are out already out there as offered by innovative brokers and agents. Caps, floors, flat fee, it’s all out there for the taking but you can’t dictate to consumers one universal structure.

    So for me no to #1 and #4.

    Yes to #2. If you really want #3, expect to pay as much or more to compensate your professional. That seems only logical.

    #5 sounds like a great idea for some industrial webbie/techie who wants to create a sticky website with built in advertisers.

    #6 will happen when gas is back under $2 a gallon.

  33. “6. Tax break for fees paid ( do we already have something like this?)”

    I think Q means for the consumer. The fees (commissions) you pay as a seller are deducted from any capital gains taxes as a cost of sale, like escrow, title, etc. If you pay a buyer’s agent, those commissions get capitalized into your purchase and increase your tax basis. So yes, there’s already some tax break for those fees.

  34. Doug-

    1. Tell me more about #1. What kind of discounts could an agent offer for a $100K unit, for a >$1M unit?

    2. Why more for #3? Seems that would justify the fees not raise it. I would argue that it would actually raise the average fees collected by all agents since there prob would be less around.

    3. Why not on #4? Seems it would provide financial assistance for new agents and help put more of the focus on the customer.

  35. Q-diddy-

    #1) I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to go into specifics about pricing here. I’ve been gently handslapped on that before. What I can say is that I’ve seen every imaginable pricing structure offered over the years.

    At $100K, I wouldn’t anticipate any discounts in the free market since a commission earned would bump against most agents so-called break even point.

    At 1M, agents discount on the listing side all-the-time. Typically the buyers side fee is also a smaller percentage, say 2-2.5% instead of a more typical 3%. It all depends on the deal struck between seller and listing agent. Yes 2% of 1M is a lot of money but keep in mind that the stakes go up on such a sale as well. We can all hem and haw about it being the same amount of work as a $200k condo but who really knows until you get there? Each deal is its own situation. Some 1M clients are all peaches and cream and others crazy demanding.

    #3) A reaonable argument by you. More education and minimum standards would help rationalize the money that can be made in real estate. If you require such standards however, I think it’s simply intuitive that at least some that cost, that weeding out of lesser educated, will be born on the consumer.

    #4) As an individual consumer you could propose a retainer, essentially a salary. But to dictate a base salary to all agents, via their brokers? Communism! What’s the emo-con for just kidding? I just don’t think you’re ever going to have that kind of regulation. Many brokers do offer a draw by the way. It’ essentially an advance to help smooth out the up and down income of the typical agent.

  36. Gordon,

    I was with our own Company at Sound Realty during my experimentation, and am back with Sound Realty. But whether at Sound Realty or while I was at BRIO I firmly believe that every agent is their own business and business model. I encourage agents to negotiate (not necessarily “discount”) but negotiate fairly with all of their clients be they buyer clients or seller clients.

    The only way for a best answer to “shake out” is if each agent operates as their own business, pays their broker a fair amount, and negotiates commissions with their clients. If the Broker is paid a flat monthly rate, for example, there is no reason for a Broker to set consistent fees when they have no “skin” in the net effect.

    With hundreds of agents free to negotiate with their clients, I’m positive the correct answers will surface.

  37. Doug said, “I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to go into specifics about pricing here. I’ve been gently handslapped on that before.”

    Thanks Doug! Yes, as agents we cannot discuss actual commissions in a mixed broker setting. It’s against anti-trust laws. Appreciate it.

  38. Ardell,

    There are lots of options and like every RE deal, probably not one size fits all. Your logic is reasonable, of course — everyone makes a “fair” wage in the process.

    Defining fair is what is difficult…so often the “easy” commission subsidizes all of those deals where there the fee is “hard” to earn, or not earned at all ($0 per hour is sometimes our rate, as we all know). That’s not fair to the “easy” client and so on.

    Anyway, we’ve heard much of this before. I think as buyers and sellers get more educated, and agents get similarly enlightened, maybe we get closer to a better bargain for all parties.

  39. Gordon,

    I don’t believe that you charge one more because the other got away with too little, anymore than I’m going to pay for a steak if I’m getting a cup of coffee because the restaurant needs the money.

    It took a lot of trial and error to determine “fair”, but I find that our clients have been pretty reasonable and I often propose what I have found to be “fair” without their having to ask.

    It gets very easy to be up front with buyers and have the negotiations go very smoothly for all. I just treat buyers like sellers. It takes a little practice, but it gets easier and easier. There aren’t too many experienced agents who have trouble striking a fair bargain on the listing side, in my experience. It’s the buyer side that takes practice.

    Rarely have we had a client in the last couple of years who didn’t know what “fair” was. It’s agents who have to get over the learning curve.

    The first time the seller and I handed the buyer the full 3% Buyer Agent fee when they had no buyer agent, it felt like I kicked myself in the stomach and the seller was a bit confused. But the more I do it and the more I explain to the seller that the fee is incorporated in the price and comes out and to the buyer, or off the price if the buyer wants to represent themselves, the easier things go.

    Fair is really easy…it’s just not what we’re used to 🙂

  40. Ardell,

    I love the spirit of what you’re saying here – who can argue with being “fair?” And I think most experienced agents practice what you’re preaching to some extent rather than sticking to a hard line of the traditional fee structure. Lots of examples of negotiating a unique fee come to mind as I think back on it, on both sides of the deal.

    I say let information reign, let the invisible hand do its thing, and this issue takes care of itself. A “fair” fee to the super agent (and btw, when I say “super” agent, I don’t mean necessarily mean the gal with the most listings or the biggest ads — the best agent OF COURSE isn’t always the most productive. Usually not. They’re just the most productive) should be higher than the fee for the B-Team junior guy, just like I pay a higher hourly rate to the partner at Davis Wright than I do to the solo practicioner in Lake City. In some things you do get what you pay for.

    This negotiation is already happening in the marketplace more and more — as the information assymetry decreases (thanks to lots of things, the internet, Zip, Redfin, YOU). But that free market still says that as agents we’re entitled to get paid as much (or as little) as we can fairly negotiate. For my work week, for Doug’s, for yours, that rate should be higher than average, as we’re (hopefully) better-than-average agents. And I mean higher on per deal and an absolute basis.

  41. Gordon,

    I agree that the issue takes care of itself in areas where information is more readily available to both agents and people buying and selling real estate. But for many years that only applied to the seller and not the buyer. I don’t think the buyer side would have changed without outside pressures coming to bear in the form of competition.

    The bigger issues that affect how much an agent charges are how much an agent pays their broker, how much the broker’s policies dictate an agent’s ability to negotiate and how many transactions an agent wants to handle and the cost of support systems to handle more and more.

    I try to train agents to look at the dollars and not the percentages. It’s amazing how much that little twist in the mindset can set an agent on the right course.

    You are correct that there is not an agent in the Country who has been in the business for 5 years or more, who has not created a unique and fair bargain with their clients. It’s also correct that many agents move mountains to make things work out for their clients at the end of the day, even when there are no modifications up front.

  42. Gordon & Ardell-

    So the seller has to pay 6% (3% to seller agent and 3% to buyer agent)?

    On a $1MM house that would be $30K each. Or put differently >60% of the median annual salary in WA for each side!? That’s a hefty fee!

  43. Q-Diddy,

    Where are you getting that percentage? Why does everyone think everyone pays that? Clearly, they do not. Of course it depends on what the seller wants. If they want to overprice the house and they want $500 a pop big color glossy ads in a fancy magazine every month for a year, that will affect what they need to pay.

    Most of my clients believe in the internet and the mls as a primary source of finding a buyer. If people would stop making agents do things that are largely ineffective to make them feel better when the house isn’t selling, it would affect commissions significantly, particularly in the higher price ranges.

  44. Commissions are commonly all over the board. They are mostly at the “traditional” percentage, but frequently are reduced via credits for one thing or another.

  45. Q-Diddy,

    I feel like I’m hi-jacking Gordon’s first ever RCG post, so if you don’t mind, I’ll start a new post on full transparency about real estate commissions.

  46. Well you’re a regular D.B. Cooper, aren’t you? 🙂

    It’s an important topic and it probably deserves its own post. I’ll look forward to reading more of what you have to say on the issue.

    re/your response to Doug’s comment, and for my clarification, where in the Sherman Act or license law does it say we can’t even discuss commissions in a forum like this? I know we can’t collude to fix pricing (e.g. “our fee is set at X”), but it seems like a general or even specific dialogue on the topic doesn’t create any antitrust issues.

  47. Doug referred to getting his hand slapped, and I’m pretty sure that was by me in the past. When a bunch of agents jump in and start commenting, “I charge this and I charge that” or “We should all stay firm at X”, which has happened here in the past, it becomes a group conversation among brokers. Group conversations among brokers regarding commissions, that could lead to everyone being influenced by one another, becomes an anti-trust issue. That doesn’t change whether it is at a NAR convention or on a blog post.

    I just love it when people remember getting their hand slapped. I love it even more when they answer one another when I’m not around and say “ARDELL’s going to slap your hand for that when she gets back” 🙂

    I totally agree that generic discussions are permitted. But given our policy here on RCG of not editing or deleting comments unless there is no other option, it is best to have a general understanding of what is and isn’t crossing the line.

  48. Pingback: And my first RCG post… « A Broker’s Perspective

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