Due to expected scrutiny from the DOJ, the California Association of Realtors has abandoned buyers, and the buyer-agents. If a listing agent wants to include paying an incentive to buyer-agents, not only do they have to convince a seller that it’s a good idea, but then they have to use an optional form and NEVER call it a commission. Beginning on July 24th:

The Residential Listing Agreement will no longer provide for any offer of compensation from the listing broker to the buyer’s broker. C.A.R. confirmed that they will no longer facilitate broker-to-broker compensation agreements. The Cooperating Broker Compensation Agreement is being retired and will no longer be part of the C.A.R. forms library; the same applies to the Anticipated Broker Compensation Disclosure. The message is clear: C.A.R. will not produce/provide any forms related to broker-to-broker compensation.

The newly revised RLA will only include the agreement between the seller and the listing broker as it relates to compensation. The option for the listing broker to charge an additional fee if the buyer comes to the table unrepresented will remain. This option is available to account for the additional work that may be required of the listing agent when buyers elect to self represent.

In transactions where a buyer is unrepresented it is imperative that the listing agent not act as a fiduciary. The Buyer Non Agency Agreement form must be provided to and signed by the buyer. It is important that listing agents are careful with their words and actions, so as not to imply a fiduciary relationship with an unrepresented buyer.

As it relates to concessions that a seller may wish to offer to a buyer, the listing agreement will not specifically reference such offers. However the Multiple Listing Service Addendum includes the concession language. Paragraph five of “MLSA” will inform the seller as to the option of offering a concession to the buyer. The default will indicate that there are no concessions, however, there will be a checkbox in paragraph 5B2 wherein the seller may agree to consider a concession to the buyer to be used toward the buyer’s closing cost. No amount, either flat fee or percentage, shall be stated without the express written consent of the seller.

It is important to remember that concessions may not be designated for commission rather they are a seller to buyer offer extended solely to assist a buyer with closing costs which may include a variety of fees including broker compensation.

First, the National Association of Realtors botched the defense of buyer agency – allowing the world to believe there has been a conspiracy to inflate commissions – which could not be further from the truth. Now the California Association of Realtors has caved to the implied DOJ threat and revised all their forms to cover themselves, instead of fighting for buyers and buyer-agents. They didn’t even try to fight it – they just caved and revised their forms instead and expect agents to adjust.

In addition, the new listing agreement won’t mention any buyer-agent compensation, but it has a paragraph for the listing agent to include more pay for handling the unrepresented buyer without providing any fiduciary duty. The form is promoting single agency!

This is a disaster. Buyer-agents will be expected to convince buyers that they need to commit in writing to paying the buyer on-agent commission before buyers even find a house. They don’t think they need help finding a house – they have access to Zillow.

They will go direct to the listing agent instead.


It will be the worst thing to happen to real estate ever, yet outsiders will claim that they got commissions reduced so it worked and everything is fine.

Sales will plummet the rest of the year – I guarantee it – but we won’t know if it’s due to buyers waiting it out and/or not knowing what to do, the insane political circus that will only get worse, or if home prices and rates are too high. But that is a wicked triple threat!

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Jim the Realtor
Jim is a long-time local realtor who comments daily here on his blog, bubbleinfo.com which began in September, 2005. Stick around!

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