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Know Your Worth

By Chris Hill
Maryland REALTORS®’ 2024 President

On Thursday, March 14, 2024, I had one version of this column ready to go. Then news of the proposed National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) settlement was announced, so I threw out that version and I’m writing this one, instead.

I’m sure you were as rocked by the news as I was, that NAR had reached a proposed settlement that would end the litigation brought about by home sellers in other states. As announcements go, this had all the delicacy of a 5 AM fire alarm. And, yes, as the bell was clanging in my head, competing thoughts had entered my mind: the world of real estate is changing, and yet in many ways it has not.

For starters, Maryland is one of only 17 states that legally require a written Buyer Brokerage Agreement. Since 2016, Maryland law has required their use, which has benefited consumers throughout the State and has brought transparency to the real estate transaction. Whereas most of our colleagues across the nation are scrambling to get a buyer agreement in place, we have been ahead of the game for more than eight years. Other states will have to catch up to where Maryland is now by creating the necessary forms, while also getting these agreements signed before moving forward with a client.

So, what has changed? Public perception. Following the announcement, all major news headlines pointed to how much a consumer should pay a Buyer Agent. As you would expect, such reporting has empowered consumers. Before gasping, keep in mind what the Association has always taught to assure transparency: commissions are negotiable. The big difference is that this message has now been broadcast a thousandfold. The reality is that Buyer Agents will face stiffer competition as consumers “price shop” for their services. How do you keep ahead?

Know your worth. Know your value. Know what you bring to every transaction, because while the media has proven itself very adept at talking about commissions, they collectively haven’t—and won’t—tell the true role of a Buyer Agent in the transaction.

Now more than ever, this is your story to share with every client. Be proud of your knowledge of communities and neighborhoods, financing, finding homes that match the client’s preferences, making sure the seller follows through with actions they need to take on their end, and your track record of matching buyers with their dream homes.

Share your value. Share your story. Common sense dictates that a buyer making a decision involving hundreds of thousands of dollars should have professional representation. Your job is to educate your clients on your important role. The consumer may be thinking “price,” which is understandable. How will you pivot to demonstrate your value?

There remains a lot to unpack on all of this, obviously. As your President, I can tell you that Maryland REALTORS® is fully engaged on this issue, working tirelessly to help our members as they navigate the proposed settlement.

You got this. We got this.

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