What’s changing in Utah’s housing market after real estate lawsuit settlement

Mar 18, 2024, 9:26 PM | Updated: 10:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The spring homebuying season is here, and realtor Alicia Holdaway says Utah’s housing market is getting busy.

“We’re seeing multiple offers come back,” Holdaway said during an interview Monday with KSL TV. “We’re seeing open houses with dozens of people through them.”

Realtor Alicia Holdaway says Utah’s housing market is getting busy.(Winston Armani, KSL TV)

The pickup in buying comes at a time when the real estate world is undergoing a major shakeup. As KSL reported last week, the National Association of Realtors has agreed to settle lawsuits that accused them of keeping real estate agent commissions artificially high.

The NAR has agreed to pay $418 million to homebuyers who sued over that. The group also has to change their rules to prohibit seller’s agents from promising compensation for buyer’s agents on the site where homes are listed for sale.

Commissions will now have to be negotiated separately.

“The idea that commissions should be transparent – at least from my experience – they have been,” said Kreg Wagner, general counsel at the Utah Association of Realtors. “They have been negotiable.”

Kreg Wagner, general counsel at the Utah Association of Realtors. (Winston Armani, KSL TV)

Holdaway echoed that.

“It’s always been negotiable,” she said, “but the consumer may feel more empowered to negotiate.”

Experts say this settlement could lead to lower agent commissions. Utahns on average pay 4.9%, according to one study from Clever Real Estate. That equals about $24,581 on a typical home.

“It’s not a terrible thing that agents have to prove their value and support their value in what they’re being compensated for,” Holdaway said.

But she worries some buyers will skip getting an agent over concerns about paying – and have no one watching their back.

“That’s not in anybody’s best interest,” Holdaway said.

The settlement also requires that going forward, realtors sign an agreement with buyers. But the Utah Association of Realtors said that has already been happening in the Beehive State.

“That shouldn’t be a seismic change for Utah,” said Wagner. “We’ve been doing that for decades.”

If the settlement is approved by a judge, the changes are expected to take effect in the middle of July.

Real estate lawsuit settlement upends decadeslong policies that helped set agent commissions

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What’s changing in Utah’s housing market after real estate lawsuit settlement