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Each week on The Download, Inman’s Christy Murdock takes a deeper look at the top-read stories of the week to give you what you’ll need to meet Monday head-on. This week: No surprise here. The biggest story of the year was our liveblog coverage of the Sitzer | Burnett commission trial. Get caught up with a special end-of-year edition of The Download.
As we approach the end of 2023 and gear up for 2024, the buyer commission lawsuits, and their many copycats, are the main topic of almost every conversation — among agents, between agents and their brokers, and between agents and their clients. The Sitzer | Burnett verdict has been front and center in your consciousness and that’s reflected in the reading you’ve done at Inman.
To no one’s surprise, the ongoing live coverage of the Sitzer | Burnett trial was the most-read story of the year.
From essential reading to pre-trial analysis, from surveys to daily courtroom dramas, the Inman liveblog was the place to be. With boots-on-the-ground coverage from Andrea Brambila to frequent updates from Taylor Anderson and Jotham Sederstrom, more than 128,000 of you (and counting) couldn’t get enough of checking (and re-checking) to learn the latest.
Even after the verdict came down, the liveblog continued to cover reaction and response, providing a valuable real-time snapshot of a pivotal moment in the industry. At the same time, Inman Contributors on the Service side were writing detailed questions to ask, things to explain, and talking points to share with clients to ensure that you’re always providing the most up-to-date information.
Nobody breaks down the intricate details of process and analysis like Cara Ameer. This broker’s overview of the commission lawsuits — published even before the verdict in Sitzer | Burnett caused most industry veterans to take notice of many of these points — offers an in-depth look at the complexity and legal repercussions of changes to the commission structure.
In the aftermath of Sitzer, Ameer published this article to help you check yourself and have essential conversations with your buyer upfront. As copycat commission suits proliferate, asking the right questions of buyers is critically important before starting to work with them. As agents, writes Ameer, we have been trained to ask qualifying questions to determine the buyer’s motivation, timing and ability to purchase. Here she lays out the most important.
So you’ve got your list of questions to ask but you’re not sure how to broach the subject of buyer agreement with your potential client? According to Ameer, it’s high time to shift your mindset to “listing” buyers, just as you would a seller’s home, through the use of buyer agency agreements. Sometimes you must get uncomfortable to get comfortable. Although conversations about implementing these agreements with buyers might seem awkward, they don’t have to be.
What has never been in dispute is the value that agents bring to both buyers and sellers. Even in the lawsuits, litigants admitted that they were happy with the service they received from their agents. But as you have sometimes uncomfortable conversations with your clients moving forward, you’ll need to make sure that you can defend the value you add — and your commission.
Trying to articulate all that you do is never a finite list as each buyer and transaction is unique, writes Ameer. Working with buyers involves advocacy, education, information, guidance, encouragement, patience, protection and accountability. Here’s how to quantify your value proposition.