9 strategies to move past lawsuit fatigue and get back to business

Commission In Article 2

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Over the past few months, I have, like most of us, been following the headlines and news surrounding NAR’s settlement. While many in the industry feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless stream of information, there is a silver lining in the projected changes. 

Reading through the reports of the judge’s preliminary approval of the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) settlement, I’m left with thoughts, perspectives and a big goal: helping agents forge a path forward with more confidence and less fear. 

Let’s do a quick review of what has happened, plan for what’s next, and create goals that will make your path forward bright instead of shrouded in doubt and obstacles. 

Giving kudos where they’re due 

First, kudos to Inman for such accurate and factual reporting and information, unlike so many of our mainstream media outlets. We’ve been lumped into the category of a cartel, and the level of misinformation and flat-out mistruths is extraordinary. All of us in the industry should be working hard to set facts straight. 

Second, kudos to NAR’s attorneys for a settlement win — negotiating their portion of the $1.78 billion (trebled to $5.36 billion) down to $418 million is no small feat. As NAR spokesman Mantill Williams said, they worked to “resolve this litigation in a way that preserves consumer choice and protects our members to the greatest extent possible.” 

Combatting misinformation 

As a real estate professional, you have to be the source of true information in a sea of misinformation, especially around how to explain the commission disclosures to homeowners who may be confused by consumer media headlines.

Where your expertise matters is helping them understand how to negotiate and advocate for themselves, especially when they may have worked with other agents in the past who did not explain that commissions were negotiable. 

Some sellers will not be willing to pay additional commissions to a buyer’s agent. If they don’t, that’s fine. But buyers will have to figure out how to pay their agent to represent their best interest and potentially even come out of pocket, which leaves them with less purchasing power because they have less cash on hand.   

So, wrap your heads around it all and be able to explain this in simple-to-understand terms that consumers can understand.  

Now, next steps forward 

I know many of you are exhausted from the past eight months, and for good reason. Getting back to business that is not quite “business as usual” can feel a little daunting. I think so many of us in the industry have a case of “lawsuit fatigue” after navigating headline after headline for so long.     

What is ‘lawsuit fatigue’?

It’s weariness from constant legal uncertainties and the stress they bring. It feels a little like battle fatigue. It’s not just the business uncertainty; it’s also public skepticism and the constant barrage of mistruths out there. It’s important not only to acknowledge this fatigue but also to combat it actively. 

What does it look like?

Decreased productivity, heightened anxiety and potential career burnout. For a lot of agents, it’s affected their ability to maintain client relationships because they are just afraid of not knowing what to say or do. We don’t want that for you, and I’m sure you don’t either.  

How agents can beat lawsuit fatigue and get back to business

1. Educate yourself and others: Ensure you fully understand the implications of the settlement so you can be the source of truth in a sea of misinformation — like clarifying that homeowners have always had the choice in paying buyer’s agent commissions. 

2. Enhance communication skills: In the history of our industry, it’s never been more important to be clear and transparent in your communication with clients and even prospects. Sharpen your negotiation and communication skills. When you do, you’ll feel more confident, which will give you more energy and help you want to get back on the phone and face-to-face with people.  

3. Reaffirm your value: Continue to demonstrate your indispensable value to clients, ensuring they understand what services you provide that online platforms and less involved agents do not.  

4. Adopt a proactive mindset: Be proactive rather than reactive. Understand the shifts in the market and what changes will be coming down the pipe, and adapt your business strategies to align with new regulations and market expectations. 

5. Maintain professional integrity: Stop fighting online about this. Stop engaging in negative discourse on social media or in social settings and focus on building a positive professional image for yourself and our profession that attracts clients. 

6. Set clear, professional fee structures: Clearly define your commission rates and services to avoid any confusion or disputes with clients and other agents. We love a tiered marketing plan where you can illustrate different levels of service or even a pay-for-performance model fee structure. Many agents are using it to get more listings, and they are loving it. 

7. Practice self-care: Not to get too “woo-woo” on you, but don’t underestimate the personal impact of ongoing industry changes. We’ve got to give ourselves some grace in all this and learn what works for each of us individually to manage stress and maintain mental health

8. Seek professional development: Invest in training, more training and even more training, plus role-playing and coaching to refine your skills continually. This will not only boost your confidence but also equip you with the tools you need to be competitive and engaging in this market. 

9. Foster community and collaboration: Build and maintain strong relationships within the community. Not only can this be a source of referrals, but a supportive network can provide guidance, share insights and help navigate challenges together. 

Moving forward 

As we move forward, it’s essential to remember that agents are vital to the real estate process — always have been and always will be. It’s important to acknowledge your professional skills and ask for help if you need it.

Although it might feel like it sometimes, you are not in this alone. Many other agents are feeling it, too. By tackling lawsuit fatigue head-on and focusing on these actionable steps, agents can emerge from this challenging period stronger and more prepared to handle whatever the industry throws their way.

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