Northwest MLS Allows Publishing Agent Commissions on Listings

July 25, 2019

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service, a broker-owned MLS serving the Seattle area, says it’s bringing greater transparency to buyers’ brokers’ compensation by allowing the public display of agent commissions. NWMLS announced this week that it would allow its agent and broker subscribers to publish on the firm’s public website the commission the seller is offering to pay a buyer’s broker. NWMLS serves more than 30,000 real estate brokers.

NWMLS’ move veers from most MLS policies. Most MLSs nationwide do not allow the public display of commissions.

But buyers should know in advance how much their broker will be paid, asserts Jason Wall, an NWMLS board member. “Transparency in real estate transactions benefits everyone,” Wall says. “Why shouldn’t a buyer know, in advance, how much his or her broker will be paid for the broker’s services? … Flexibility and choices for consumers and brokers are good things.”

The selling office commission can now be listed on the firms’ public websites next to other property information, such as the home’s square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. NWMLS also announced this week that it would remove the requirement that a seller offer an SOC when listing a property. If none is offered, the buyer’s broker then has the opportunity to negotiate compensation as part of the sale on the home.

“Consumers want greater transparency and flexibility in the homebuying and selling process,” says Tom Hurdelbrink, NWMLS CEO. “We believe these changes encourage member real estate firms to continue to innovate and evolve their business models to better serve consumers.”

Others in the industry also appeared to welcome the increased transparency. It’ll make it easier for agents to explain the costs of their company’s services, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman said in a statement. “And being explicit that a listing can offer buyers’ agents any commission or now even no commission will assure consumers and agents alike that Seattle’s real estate market is wide open for competition,” Kelman says.

The new policy takes effect October 1.