Fayette Realtors president explains home sales commissions and class action court case

As the president of the Fayette County Board of Realtors I hope to address growing consumer questions related to the verdict in the SITZER-BURNETT CLASS ACTION lawsuit.

Many consumers are wondering what the recent verdict in the case means for future real estate transactions in our area. The short answer is NOTHING.

Georgia has been ahead of the curve since 1994. For almost 30 years, Georgia Realtors have been governed by BRRETA (brokerage relationships in real estate transactions act).

BRRETA established consumer relationships in real estate to make transactions more transparent, as well as govern brokerage relationships with buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants.

This statute was further revised and amended in 2000 to clarify the duties of a real estate broker and relationships with clients.

This means that for almost 3 decades Realtors in the state of Georgia have been very clear about how brokers and agents are compensated in a real estate transaction.

In a typical real estate transaction, the listing broker offers an incentive to a buyer’s broker to bring a buyer to the transaction. Typically, the listing broker splits the commission, giving the buyer’s broker half of the commission.

Brokers operate under the agreement of the “cooperative compensation rule” which mandates that the listing brokerage specifies in the MLS what compensation is being offered to the buyer’s agent in a real estate transaction.

Without this arrangement, or clear compensation rule, buyers would have to pay their buyer agents directly, which could be damaging to homeownership aspirations for many, but will be detrimental to the first-time home buyer.

Eliminating cooperative compensation would likely force homebuyers to go without professional help during what is likely the most substantial and complex financial transaction they’ll make in their lifetime.

As a example, you wouldn’t hire your opponent’s attorney to represent you in a court case. And the same goes for real estate. The seller’s agent is representing the seller’s interest, not the buyer’s interest, which is why it is so important for the buyer to seek professional representation in a real estate transaction.

All home buyers and sellers deserve the fairness, transparency, and efficiency that our fair-market system has created. When buying or selling a home, it is critical to have knowledgeable market experts, and representatives to support and protect their individual interests. The home buying process is stressful enough without worrying about who you can and cannot trust.

Consumers have and will continue to be able to negotiate commission rates with a broker of their choice that will represent them in a real estate transaction.

And private property owners in the state of Georgia, and Fayette County, should rest assured that in addition to abiding by BRRETA, all REALTORS that have also taken an oath to abide by a strict code of ethics and professional standards. This code of ethics includes treating clients fairly and honestly, completing strict education guidelines, and always acting with integrity.

Realtors not only manage EVERY detail of a transaction with the upmost care and professionalism, but they are also dedicated to serving and protecting their clients’ interests.

Realtors and brokers are a needed and a valuable part of each real estate transaction. We all work together to support a healthy and thriving local real estate market. This is why the verdict of this case will have little effect on the real estate transaction process in Fayette County.

As the news media spins their opinions and fear-driven statements, we will remain professionally resolute and calm until the dust settles. The agents and brokers at the Fayette County Board of Realtors will continue to be committed to excellence by serving our clients with an essential service for real estate transactions. It will be business as usual here in Fayette County and beyond.

Angela Yoder

President, Fayette County Board of Realtors

Fayetteville, Ga.

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