Professional Black woman looking outside a window with uncertainty.

Agents optimistic about the market, concerned about buy-side pay 

A new survey from Real Brokerage offers insight into agent sentiment and how they really feel about the industry changes set to go into effect this summer.

April 16, 2024
3 minutes

Key points:

  • 60% of agents surveyed said they were optimistic about where the market is headed in the next 12 months.
  • They were less certain about whether new rules coming out of the NAR settlement will improve transparency around commissions.
  • Close to half of the agents felt confident about securing buyer agreements, but more than half believe buy-side commissions will drop.

How do agents feel about their jobs and the housing market following NAR's announcement of its settlement agreement

Real Brokerage's latest agent survey — which was conducted at the end of March — provides a timely snapshot of agent sentiment, and could reflect the mood and pain points felt among salespeople across the industry. 

The fast-growing firm supports more than 17,000 agents, and its monthly survey includes responses from hundreds of those agents across the U.S. and Canada.

Agents think the market is looking up — but still challenging for buyers

When Real asked agents how they felt about the market outlook for the coming year compared to how they felt about it one month ago, 45% of its agents surveyed said they felt "more optimistic" about the market, while 15% indicated they were "significantly more optimistic." Just 13% said they felt more pessimistic, and 7% were significantly more pessimistic. 

When asked the same questions a month earlier, 53% of Real's agents said they were more optimistic about the coming 12 months and 16% were significantly more optimistic, suggesting that sentiment may have slipped in recent weeks. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Real's agents pointed to low inventory and high home prices as being major issues facing their buyers and the industry as a whole. Nearly half — or 47% — of agents surveyed said affordability and interest rates were the biggest challenges for buyers, while 40% highlighted the inventory shortage. Just 5% highlighted economic uncertainty and another 5% pointed to buyer competition as the biggest issues facing buyers.

The majority of agents, or 61% of those surveyed, said their local market was primarily a seller's market. Only 13% of agents said buyers have the upper hand in their regional market. 

Post-settlement rule changes could lead to more transparency 

For this most recent agent survey, Real posed a new question to its team: Will the new rules likely to take effect in July — removing offers of compensation from the MLS and requiring buyer agreements — help improve transparency around agent compensation and commission rates in real estate transactions?

The results were split, though most agents had either a positive or neutral response: 37% of Real's agents said these new rules would improve transparency, 29% indicated the changes would have a neutral effect, and another 29% reported that they didn't think the rule changes would improve transparency around agent commissions. 

Agents believe they can show their value, but think commissions might decline

When asked if the new buyer agreement mandate creates an opportunity "to communicate the value agents bring to a transaction," 45% of Real's agents signaled that discussing their value and securing a written agreement would be relatively easy, while 27% said it could be difficult to secure an agreement and 23% were neutral. 

Additionally, when Real asked agents if they see these new industry practices and rule changes causing downward pressure on buy-side compensation, 39% said they expect buy-side commissions to decline slightly, while 12% believed that buy-side compensation would drop significantly. Another 35% of agents said they expect buy-side commissions to remain about the same while only 9% saw commissions increasing for buyer agents.

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