Real EstateResearch

Q1 2024 BrokerPulse: Leaders predict flat home prices, lower interest rates

Real estate leaders are optimistic about the housing market, but challenges from the commission lawsuits have them concerned.

After a 2023 of real estate brokers saying they feel “neutral” or “pessimistic” about the housing market, some 48% of those surveyed for the Q1 2024 HousingWire BrokerPulse survey are optimistic that the next three months will be positive.

In fact, some 60% says that interest rates will go down in the next three months, no doubt based on current economic indicators.

As for the direction of homes sales, the results were mixed with 44% saying they will be up 5% or more and 49% indicating that homes sales will be flat over the first quarter of 2024.

Real estate leaders seemed more sure of home prices, with 65% saying they would be flat over the next three months and 29% indicting they would be up 5% or more.

While the housing market it looking up in respondents’ eyes, the overall state of the real estate industry is a bit more uncertain based on the flurry of copycat lawsuits filed after the Sitzer Burnett case was adjudicated and NAR, HomeServices and Keller Williams were found liable of colluding to inflate or maintain high commission rates through NAR policies, in the Sitzer/Burnett buyer broker commission lawsuit.

The defendants have been ordered to pay damages of $1.78 billion. Treble damages could result in the NAR and brokerages paying roughly $5.36 billion. It also opens the door to additional potential copycat lawsuits being filed in other states.

Brokers turn to robust agent training

According to our survey, brokerage leaders aren’t sitting around waiting for change to occur. They are boosting their agent training programs to provide more transparency around compensation and how to have those discussions with buyers and sellers.

One broker is teaching “conversational dialogues with statistic-based facts to effectively communicate the value we bring to the clients.” The value education was mentioned across the board. Some comments include:

  • “Defining services offered and compensation charged for applicable services.”
  • “Presentation within the listing discussion of the option of the seller not to pay the buyer agent per our state’s new contract.”
  • “Transparency in commission structure.”

An overwhelming majority of brokers who responded say they are teaching agents how to implement a buyer agency agreement with buyers, including handling objections, value proposition, and how to start the conversation.

However, many do acknowledge this agreement isn’t a panacea. “The idea that buyer agreements are the cure-all answer creates a false sense of security, however, it’s an important piece of the equation,” says New York-based broker with Berkshire Hathaway.

Challenges remain consistent

When it comes to challenges in the first quarter of 2024, here are what brokers scored as their top challenges:

While 2024 looks to be a better year for home sales, there are still challenges as the lawsuits play out.

HousingWire BrokerPulse requests surveys from some 19,000+ real estate brokerage leaders around the nation on market trends and brokerage opportunities and challenges. Of the 86 completed surveys, 30% were from the Southeast, 29% from the Southwest, 15% from the Midwest, 13% from the Northeast and 13% from the Northwest. RealTrends BrokerPulse is a forward-looking, quarterly survey.

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