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Now that NAR’s proposed settlement of the Sitzer/Burnett lawsuit has received preliminary approval, the industry is receiving numerous updates about the future of real estate practices.

One change, set to take place in July, is that home buyers will be required to have written agreements with real estate agents before touring properties.

Although Zillow is not required to offer consumer-facing agreements, it recognizes that this step can foster transparency, open communication and better alignment between agents and clients. It also understands that buyers may hesitate when it comes to signing a long-term contract with an agent they don’t know.

To help solve this problem, Zillow is offering a non-exclusive touring agreement for agents to use.

In the announcement, Errol Samuelson, Chief Industry Development Officer stated, “…insisting that a buyer sign an exclusive, long-term agreement with an agent, perhaps before even meeting the agent, feels premature. That’s why Zillow has created a non-exclusive touring agreement, and we’re making it available for use to the entire residential real estate industry.”

With this agreement, neither exclusivity nor compensation is required. Zillow suggests negotiating these aspects after the initial meetings when both the home buyer and real estate agent are comfortable moving forward.

“At the time when an additional agreement is signed, the buyer and the agent should be aligned on all terms and expectations, including compensation, with no surprises,” Samuelson said in Zillow’s post.

While this agreement benefits buyers who are not ready to fully commit to an agent before touring a property, Zillow also emphasized the value agents bring to transactions, noting that agents help ease the complexity and stress involved in buying a home.

Zillow is encouraging agents to embrace transparency and prioritize building trust with clients, and the group is offering its touring agreement to all agents.

“As we move forward, it’s important to remain focused on who the real estate industry serves: buyers and sellers,” Samuelson stated. “In this moment of evolution we’re extending an invitation: join us in putting consumers first.”


From Zillow:

“Buying a home is complex and often comes with a lot of stress: half of buyers tell us they cried at some point during the process. Without an expert prioritizing their individual needs, buyers can miss out on making a competitive offer, leave money on the table in the negotiation, ignore potential pitfalls or waive important aspects such as inspections – which can end up costing them later. Most buyers want and need an expert on their side – we don’t see that changing. This makes finding the right agent that much more important and it’s why upfront conversations about expectations and compensation are critical. We strongly believe in the value of independent representation: buyers and sellers deserve to work with an agent who is committed to their best interests and only represents them.”

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