Navigating the NAR Settlement: What It Means for Land Sales in a Commercial Setting

The recent settlement between the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and plaintiffs regarding broker commission practices has introduced significant changes, primarily targeting residential real estate transactions. However, for those involved in land sales, particularly in a commercial setting, it’s crucial to understand how these changes will impact the industry and what remains unchanged.

Key Changes and Their Implications

Focus on Residential Transactions: The NAR settlement predominantly addresses residential real estate transactions. The Sitzer-Burnett lawsuit and subsequent copycat lawsuits were centered on practices within residential deals, leaving most commercial transactions, including land sales, largely unaffected.

Use of Commercial Information Exchanges (CIEs): In many markets, commercial listings, including land deals, are managed through Commercial Information Exchanges (CIEs) rather than Multiple Listing Services (MLSs). The settlement’s prohibition on offers of compensation via the MLS does not extend to CIEs. This means land sales listed on CIEs will continue without the new MLS restrictions.

No Mandatory Written Agreements for Commercial Transactions: One of the settlement’s key requirements for residential transactions is that buyer agents must enter into written agreements with their clients before showing properties. This rule does not apply to commercial transactions. Therefore, brokers handling land sales are not required to implement these written agreements, maintaining the current process and flexibility.

Financial and Operational Impact on Buyers and Sellers

Financial Implications for Buyers:

  • Upfront Costs: With the shift in residential transactions requiring buyers to negotiate agent compensation directly, there is potential for increased upfront costs. However, since these changes do not apply to commercial land transactions, buyers in this sector will not face additional financial burdens from these new rules.
  • Negotiation Clarity: Buyers may benefit from clearer, upfront negotiations about agent fees, which can lead to a more transparent transaction process. This transparency helps in budgeting and financial planning, ensuring there are no hidden costs.

Financial Implications for Sellers:

  • Stable Commission Structures: Since land deals typically use CIEs, sellers will continue to operate under existing commission structures, avoiding the disruptions seen in residential transactions. This stability can lead to more predictable financial planning and cost management.
  • Potential for Custom Incentives: Sellers might find new opportunities to offer custom incentives to buyers, which could make their listings more attractive. While these incentives are negotiated directly, they provide flexibility in structuring deals to meet specific buyer needs.

Operational Impact on Brokers and Agents:

  • Simplified Processes: For brokers and agents, the continuation of existing practices for land deals means there is no need to adopt new compliance measures required for residential transactions. This simplicity helps maintain operational efficiency and reduces the learning curve associated with new regulations.
  • Focus on Client Relationships: With less regulatory burden, brokers can focus more on building strong client relationships and negotiating deals that best serve their clients’ interests. This client-centric approach can enhance trust and satisfaction, potentially leading to more successful transactions.

What Remains Unchanged for Land Sales

  1. Direct Compensation Negotiations:
    • For land deals categorized under commercial transactions, the practice of negotiating agent compensation directly between the buyer and seller continues without the new residential rules. This ensures that compensation remains straightforward and agreed upon by all parties involved.
  2. Current Practices via CIEs:
    • Land transactions listed through CIEs will not be impacted by the MLS-specific changes. This maintains the existing framework for how commercial real estate, including land, is listed and managed, ensuring continuity and stability.
  3. Broker Flexibility:
    • Commercial brokers, especially those dealing with land sales, will benefit from the continuity of current practices. There is no requirement to alter existing agreements or introduce new compliance measures that are now necessary in the residential sector.

Strategic Adjustments for Land Developers and Brokers

  • Maintain Current Practices: Since land deals often align with commercial transaction rules, developers and brokers can continue with their existing practices without significant changes.
  • Leverage CIEs: For listing and managing land deals, utilizing CIEs can help avoid the complexities introduced by the new residential transaction rules.
  • Enhanced Negotiation Skills: Develop strong negotiation strategies to handle compensation discussions effectively, ensuring all terms are clear and agreed upon upfront.
  • Clear and Transparent Agreements: Implement clear, written compensation agreements to ensure all parties are on the same page, even though not required for commercial transactions.

Resources for Further Reading

To stay informed and navigate these changes effectively, we recommend the following resources:


While the NAR settlement introduces significant changes for residential real estate transactions, land sales in a commercial setting will experience minimal impact. By continuing to utilize CIEs and maintaining current practices, land brokers and developers can navigate this new landscape with confidence. Newkirk Investments remains committed to providing up-to-date information and resources to help you succeed in your land development endeavors. Stay tuned to our blog for more updates and expert insights into the evolving real estate market.

For more information and personalized advice on land sales, feel free to contact our team at Newkirk Investments.

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