eXp Realty: Leo Pareja, Holly Mabery, Kendall Bonner
Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

eXp CEO: ‘Treat your buyers like you treat your sellers’ 

Company leaders hosted a livestream to discuss NAR settlement outcomes, including buyer agreements and how to talk to sellers about buy-side compensation.

May 17, 2024
4 minutes

Key points:

  • eXp execs reminded agents that buyer agreements aren’t just required for touring, they will also help ensure agents get paid.
  • Agents need to be able to explain to sellers that offering compensation to a buyer agent is really “an incentive to the buyer.”
  • Breaking the new rules could result in fines or having MLS access suspended, eXp leaders warned agents.

Brokerage giant eXp hosted a virtual event for agents and brokers this week to help real estate professionals understand the post-settlement rule changes set to go into effect this summer and provide insight into the evolving residential real estate environment. 

It was the company's second livestream focused on the NAR deal. An earlier company-wide event, held in the immediate aftermath of the settlement announcement, attracted nearly 50,000 concurrent viewers. This time around, viewership topped out at around 3,200. 

Similar to March's virtual town hall, this week's webcast was hosted by Leo Pareja — who was promoted to CEO of eXp Realty in April — and Holly Mabery, VP of Brokerage Operations. Kendall Bonner, eXp's VP of Industry Relations, joined in on this week's stream.

Here are some of the key messages eXp communicated to agents.

eXp agents are fully released from liability

Pareja reminded agents that they are free to continue to conduct business as usual.

"The punchline is: You guys out there that are licensed agents, solo producers, team leaders, are all released from any and all liability from this lawsuit from the settlement that NAR negotiated."

eXp, a defendant in multiple commissions lawsuits, has not announced any settlement deals, though eXp World Holdings CEO Glenn Sanford suggested last month that the company would consider settling "for a number that makes sense to us." 

Rule changes to MLSs will be enforced by MLSs

Once rule changes go into effect, some have questioned how compliance will be monitored. Pajera and Mabery emphasized that enforcement will be up to the MLSs. 

"We've already seen some MLSs [find] that on clear cooperation, they fine and they may remove you from service for a period of time. So you might not have access — that's something that I know many MLSs are considering right now," Mabery said.

However, they also noted that enforcement can vary based on region or state. 

"I'm fully expecting this to not be a one-size-fits-all when it comes to enforcement and policing," Pajera said.

Want to get paid? Make sure you have a buyer agreement

A buyer agreement is now required before touring properties, but that agreement will also be critical when a deal closes. 

"If you don't have a definitive buyer agreement before you start to work, getting paid becomes more difficult," Mabery said, adding that agents in Washington State, where eXp is headquartered, need to pay particular attention to this issue as buyer agency agreements are already mandated by state law as of January 1.

Pajera noted that while cooperative compensation may have been implied through offers of compensation previously listed in the MLS — specifically, the concept of "procuring cause" — there should no longer be any presumption of compensation.

Procuring cause was the "reason why most people probably did not execute a buyer representation agreement," Pajera said, "because there was an implied notion that protected that compensation." The NAR settlement "extinguishes" this concept, he added.

Approach all client relationships with the same level of professionalism 

The livestream hosts emphasized the importance of treating buyer clients the same as sellers, suggesting that agents who can adopt this practice will be successful moving forward. 

"Very simple," Pajera said to agents. "Treat your buyers like you treat your sellers — which translates to having a buyer presentation as good as your listing presentation."

Reframe the compensation discussion with sellers

Providing some offer of compensation to the buyer agent will remain valuable to sellers who are seeking the biggest pool of buyers, the hosts suggested, and listing agents should be prepared to discuss why buyer agent compensation still matters. 

"Offering compensation to the buyer's agent as a seller is also an incentive to the buyer," Bonner said. "So now it's not just an incentive to the buyer's agent — it's also an incentive to that buyer."

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