Lauren's Blog

NAR Settlement Explained + 104 Things a (Great) Buyer’s Agent Does

We’re sure you’ve all heard about the lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors (NAR) going into effect this August. With all the noise and confusion in the media, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.

Luckily, over here we cut through the bullshit and give it to ya straight.

Let’s dive right into how the NAR settlement changes the playing field for homebuyers PLUS a full breakdown on exactly what a (great) buyer’s agent does for you.

If you’re new here, I’m Lauren Goché — a Portland realtor with a decade of experience backing me up. Which means I’ve weathered more than a few market shifts over the course of my career, and specialize in making sure you can make the most of the market for your goals. Read more about me here.

The NAR Settlement and Its Implications for Buyers

This lawsuit was essentially settled as a preventative measure against potential future legal battles. Its aim was to bring more transparency to real estate commissions — which is fair, there hasn’t been much.

Traditionally, there’s been this unwritten rule: the seller pays both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent fees, typically ranging from 4.5% to 6% of the sale price. Then, the seller’s agent splits that commission with the buyer’s agent. The seller paying both fees kept the whole process more affordable to buyers, especially first-timers.

The NAR settlement essentially formalizes what was already happening: the seller isn’t obligated to pay the buyer’s agent. Even though there are plenty of reasons a seller SHOULD still pay a buyer’s agent’s commission, now that this is all out in the open, some will decide not to. 

All this means a lot of added paperwork, room for more lawsuits, and buyers possibly paying for their own agent or skimping of representation all together because they simply can’t afford it. 

If you’re looking for more info, or are a seller wondering how this settlement impacts you, I highly, highly recommend you check out my favorite breakdown of the situation: Beyond the Headlines: Understanding How Proposed Changes in Real Estate Commissions Will Actually Impact You as a Buyer or Seller

What is a buyer’s agent?

Believe it or not, buyer’s agents weren’t a thing until the 1980s. Before that, buyers were pretty much on their own, or they had to rely on the seller’s agent who had conflicting interests. Buyers ended up taking legal action against sellers and seller’s agents, claiming they were being misled.

So, buyer’s agents were created to protect the buyers, because buying a house is f**king complicated. Real estate is an ever-changing beast and unless you’re knee-deep in it like us, ya just don’t know what ya don’t know

Is this going to make housing more affordable?

You might have come across the argument that this settlement will drive down housing prices. But let’s call a spade a spade here – we really just don’t see that being the case. 

In reality, the burden will fall on the homebuyer, who might end up footing the bill for their own agent fees on top of their down payment and closing costs. And as we know, housing affordability is already REAL tough, especially for first-time homebuyers

Your Three Options as a Homebuyer

Even with this settlement, plenty of sellers will still cover the cost of your representation. If the seller is paying your buyer’s agent commission OR your buyer’s agent negotiates for some or all of the commission payment from the seller, then you’re good. Just keep in mind commission is already baked into the house price – it’s been that way all along.

But what if you’re eyeing a house and the seller isn’t covering the buyer’s agent fees? Here are your options:

Option 1: Use a buyer’s agent and pay the commission yourself.

This can certainly add to your stress, especially if you’re already pushing the limits of your budget to secure a home. Purchasing a new house often means counting every penny, which can be legitimately anxiety-inducing, even if it’s not your first rodeo. 

Luckily, if you can’t afford to pay this out of pocket, most of the time, we can discuss rolling it into your loan. 

Option 2: Don’t use a buyer’s agent, and represent yourself. 

Representing yourself might seem like an easy way to save some cash, but not having a buyer’s agent is like getting arrested and representing yourself in court – Good luck with that. 

It’s simply not worth the risk. You shouldn’t gamble on such a significant purchase without proper representation. And if you’re curious about the extensive value a buyer’s agent brings to the table, we’ve compiled a list detailing the 104 things we handle for our buyers — just keep scrolling!

Option 3: Have the listing agent represent you. 

This is essentially the same as you getting arrested and the prosecutor is also your defense attorney… Yeah, that’s not going to be in your best interest either.

A listing agent’s first responsibility is always going to be to their seller. Even if they have a legal duty to treat buyers fair, there’s an inherent conflict in representing both sides of the transaction. In the past we’ve seen plenty of unhappy buyers come back and sue those agents who represent both a buyer and seller in a transaction because they got misinformation or taken advantage of. 

Bottom line is: You need someone in your corner who’s only fighting for you. Period.

Our Final Verdict?

To any potential buyer, and especially first-time homebuyers, our advice is simple: USE A GOOD REALTOR, now more than ever. Buying a home is probably the biggest financial decision of your life and you deserve a dedicated professional who guides you through the process and fights for your needs.

Whether it’s handling inspections, negotiating prices, or navigating contingencies, when you buy with us, we’ll be fighting in your corner every step of the way – Get in touch.

104 Things a (Great) Buyer’s Agent Does:

Having us as your buyer’s agent means we *literally* don’t stop working for you. Just take a look below:  

  1. Have a constantly flexible schedule
  2. Prepare a Buyer’s Guide & Presentation
  3. Strategy Session w/ Buyers to Discuss Goals
  4. Explain Buyer & Seller Agency Relationships
  5. Discuss Different Types of Financing Options
  6. Help guide buyers through financial goals (This sometimes takes years)
  7. Help Buyers Find a GOOD Local Mortgage Lender
  8. Make sure a Pre-Approval Letter from Lender is up to date
  9. Provide Overview of Current Market Conditions
  10. Discuss Earnest Money Deposits
  11. Explain Home Inspection Process
  12. Educate Buyers About Local Neighborhoods
  13. Gather Needs & Wants Of Their Next Home
  14. Keep Buyers aligned in their goals
  15. Explain Recording Devices During Showings
  16. Learn All Buyer Goals & Make A Plan+Pivot
  17. Create and maintain Internal File for Buyers Records
  18. Send Buyers Homes Within Their Criteria
  19. Start Showing Buyers Home That They Request
  20. Schedule & Organize All Showings
  21. Gather Showing Instructions for Each Listing
  22. Send Showing Schedule to Buyers
  23. Years of learning about construction so we know what to steer buyer away from
  24. Look For Possible Repair Issues While Showing
  25. Advise buyer on how much repairs and remodel could cost
  26. Gather Buyer Feedback After Each Showing
  27. Update Buyers When New Homes Hit the Market
  28. Share Knowledge & Insight About Homes and neighborhoods
  29. Guide Buyers Through Their Emotional Journey 
  30. Listen & Learn From Buyers At Each Showing
  31. Keep Records of All Showings
  32. Update Listing Agents with Buyer’s Feedback
  33. Discuss Homeowners Associations
  34. Confirm Water Source and Status
  35. Explain Property Appraisal Process
  36. Discuss Multiple Offer Situations
  37. Strategize on how to get an offer accepted in multiple offer situations
  38. Provide Updated Housing Market Data to Buyers
  39. Inform Buyers of Their Showing Activity Weekly
  40. Update Buyers On Any Price Drops
  41. Discuss MLS Data With Buyers At Showings

(Hold on—we’re almost halfway there…)

  1. Find the Right Home for Buyers
  2. Determine Property Inclusions & Exclusions
  3. Prepare Sales Contract When Buyers are Ready
  4. Educate Buyer’s On Sales Contract Options
  5. Determine Need for Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
  6. Explain Home Warranty Options
  7. Update Buyer’s Pre-Approval Letter
  8. Discuss Loan Objection Deadlines
  9. Choose a Closing Date
  10. Verify Listing Data Is Correct
  11. Review Comps With Buyers To Determine Value
  12. Communicate with listing agent about submitting offers
  13. Prepare & Submit Buyer’s Offer to Listing Agent
  14. Negotiate Buyers Offer With Listing Agent
  15. Amend offer if need be
  16. Execute A Sales Contract
  17. Discuss and explain seller’s Disclosures
  18. Once Under Contract, Send to Title Company
  19. Once Under Contract, Send to Lender
  20. Coordinate Earnest Money Deposit
  21. Deliver Copies to Mortgage Lender
  22. Obtain Copy of Seller’s Disclosure for Buyers
  23. Deliver Copies of Contract/Addendum to Buyers
  24. Obtain A Copy of HOA Bylaws
  25. Obtain A Copy of HOA meeting minutes
  26. Advise buyer on lawyers to review HOA docs
  27. Keep Track of Copies for Office File
  28. Coordinate + schedule inspections with Buyers
  29. Communicate Inspection schedule with listing agent

(Ya still there? We still have 34 more…)

  1. Provide inspectors with buyer information
  2. Search through city records for permits 
  3. Check see if there is records for a buried oil tank
  4. Look to see if house is in a historic district
  5. Review disclosures to see if there are any known issues to investigate further and schedule any necessary specialty inspections (i.e. foundation, HVAC, oil tank soil sampling, cesspools, etc.)
  6. Meet Inspectors At The Property
  7. Use our years of knowledge to discuss inspection findings with buyers
  8. Review Home Inspection Reports with Buyers
  9. Schedule contractor visits for bids for needed repairs to use in negotiations
  10. Staying in constant communication with all parties during the inspection period 
  11. Coaching buyers through the pros + cons of asking for repairs vs. credits, which repairs to prioritize, etc. 
  12. Negotiate Inspection findings with seller’s agent
  13. Get All Agreed Upon Repair Items in Writing
  14. Verify any Existing Lease Agreements with tenant occupied properties
  15. Check In With Lender To Verify Loan Status
  16. Check on the Appraisal Date
  17. Negotiate Any Unsatisfactory Appraisals
  18. Coordinate Closing Times & Location
  19. Make Sure All Documents Are Fully Signed
  20. Verify Title Company Has Everything Needed
  21. Remind Buyers to Schedule Utilities
  22. Make Sure All Parties Are Notified of Closing Time
  23. Work with escrow to resolve any Title Problems Before Closing
  24. Receive and Review Closing Documents
  25. Review Closing Figures With Buyers
  26. Confirm Repairs Have Been Made By Sellers
  27. Perform Final Walk-Through with Buyers
  28. Resolve Any Last Minute Issues 
  29. Be in constant communication with buyers during closing week 
  30. Provide Home Warranty Paperwork
  31. Give Keys and Accessories to Buyers
  32. Close Out Buyer’s File + Maintain Docs and Records
  33. Check in with buyers post closing
  34. Provide on-going support (contractor, landscaper, painter, fence, appliance referrals…) after closing.

Did you get to the end? Congratulations, you’re a certified homie.