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Q2 AgentPulse survey: Low inventory is greatest challenge

More agents also reported fielding questions about the commission lawsuits

Although more agents are fielding questions about the commission lawsuits than they were a quarter ago, they also remain optimistic about where the housing market is headed in the second quarter of 2024, according to the RealTrends Q2 2024 AgentPulse survey.

The survey, which was conducted between the end of March and early April, garnered 138 respondents: 34 from the Northeast, 29 from the Southeast, 21 from the Midwest, 38 from the Southwest and 16 from the Northwest. Of the 138 respondents, 109 were part of a national brand and 28 were part of an independent firm.

Additionally, 18 of the respondents identified as team leaders, 112 identified as real estate sales associates or broker associates, and 15 identified their position as other, with the most common response being broker-owner of their firm.

Looking at second-quarter 2024, more than half of respondents (53%) believe home sales will increase by more than 5% in the next three months, while 38% believe sales will remain flat and only 10% believe that sales will be down more than 5% in their market.

In addition to sales, the majority (57%) of respondents believe home prices will be up more than 5% in Q2, while 35% believe they will be flat and 7% believing they will drop more than 5%.

When it comes to interest rates, most agents believe they will go up (10%) or remain flat (69%) over the course of the quarter, and 21% believe they will go down. Most survey participants submitted their responses prior to the publication of the March inflation data last week, which may have impacted responses.

Although interest rates will certainly be a challenge in Q2 2024, respondents ranked it as the second-greatest challenge they are facing this quarter. Taking the top spot as the greatest challenge was low inventory, with nearly half (49%) of respondents ranking that as their biggest challenge. In a similar vein, “getting listings” was the third-largest hurdle cited by agents.

Despite the numerous headlines of late, only 8% of agents ranked “uncertainty on how to proceed after NAR’s commission lawsuit settlement” as their greatest challenge.

When asked about the language they use to discuss how buyer and seller agent commissions are paid, some of the most common responses included stressing that commissions are and always have been negotiable, and that if the National Association of Realtors’ settlement is approved, some practices may change, but many things are currently unknown. Some agents also reported that they show their seller clients what other sellers in the area were offering in terms of buy-side commissions.

“I tell sellers we can expose their home to a broader market by offering a buyer agent compensation,” one respondent wrote.  “Most buyers here cannot pay realtor commissions because they are VA (Veterans Affairs borrowers).”

Another wrote that when they “speak to sellers who are asking [they] explain to them that in this competitive market with lack of inventory if they want to receive strong bids and multiple offers on their property, they should consider offering compensation for buyers agents.

“As of now, in my marketplace, it is business as usual until the Department of Justice takes a stand,” the respondent continued. “With buyers who are asking I explain the situation and let them know that there could be a strong possibility they would need to pay a percentage if not all of the commission agreed upon to me as their buyers’ agent and that we need to enter into a contract.”

Survey participants shared similar thoughts when asked how they respond to homebuyer questions about the commission lawsuits, with many noting that they stress that commissions are negotiable and that a settlement has been reached, but nothing has been finalized yet. Others noted that the practice of cooperative compensation has been codified as a legal practice in many states, so they ask their clients what they have read or heard and what specific questions they have.

“I would highlight that the real estate industry operates within legal frameworks and regulations to ensure fairness and transparency in transactions. Additionally, I would emphasize that as a professional, I adhere to ethical standards and strive to provide transparent communication with clients about commission structures and any potential implications,” one respondent wrote.

“Furthermore, I would encourage homebuyers to ask questions and seek clarification on any aspects of the real estate process, including commissions. By fostering open dialogue and providing accurate information, my goal is to alleviate concerns and build trust with homebuyers throughout their real estate journey. Ultimately, my priority is to ensure that clients feel informed, supported, and confident in their decision-making process.”

Unlike in the Q1 2024 AgentPulse survey, fewer than five respondents said they have not had clients ask questions about the lawsuits.

Although more agents and brokers are fielding questions about the commission lawsuits, many still reported that nothing or very little has changed about their day-to-day business practices. For those who have changed their practices, the most common responses were regular use of exclusive buyer agency agreements, more in-depth buyer presentations and noticing that their MLS is allowing for $0 commissions.

Even though agents certainly have their work cut out for them this quarter, only 14% of respondents reported feeling pessimistic about the market, while 43% of respondents said they feel optimistic and 42% reported feeling neutral.

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