In a bizarre turn of events, the National Association of Realtors posted, then removed before reposting, a video featuring the trade group’s interim CEO Nykia Wright “setting the record straight” on agent commissions.
The video was first posted on Wednesday around 9 a.m. ET before being removed roughly two hours later. It reappeared on NAR’s website later in the day around 6 p.m. ET.
In the original video, Wright is heard telling viewers that “NAR does not set commissions; it never has and it never will. Period. End of story.” In the reposted video, Wright’s statement was edited to say, “NAR does not set commissions. And it never will.”
NAR has, in fact, set commissions in the past. In 1983, the Federal Trade Commission published a study titled “The Residential Real Estate Brokerage Industry,” which detailed NAR’s historic use of fee schedules and highlighted that, prior to 1950, it was against the trade group’s code of ethics to charge less than a standard commission rate.
NAR noted this in a text-based message included at the end of the video. The text reads: “This video has been edited to reflect that, while NAR does not set commissions, a mid-1900s Supreme Court case held that NAR rate cards in use at the time were improper. The present litigation has nothing to do with those rate cards, and in fact, NAR’s rules have expressly prohibited anticompetitive behavior for decades.”
While NAR is accused of price fixing in the ongoing commission lawsuits, it is not being accused of setting commissions. Instead, the trade group is being accused of having protocols, like the Participation Rule, in place that have enabled competitors to stabilize commissions. NAR did not address the code of ethics of its Participation Rule in the video.
“We updated the video to avoid any distraction from the fact that NAR does not set commissions and that our rules have expressly prohibited anticompetitive behavior for decades,” a NAR spokesperson wrote in an email.