Everywhere you turn there are headlines about the Realtor commission lawsuit settlement. Just about every news story gets it wrong or does not understand the facts.

Realtor Commission Lawsuit Settlement Explained

I know you’re never going to read the details of the settlement, so let me explain what changes, what doesn’t change, who wins and loses by this settlement and some predictions.  If you’re still reading to the end, I’ll cover more details for those interested.

What Changes

Buyers will have to sign a buyer’s broker agreement before looking at property. The exception might be open houses. It is unclear if buyer agents will have to sign an agreement to see one home through the listing agent. We suspect they will when the new rules come out.

Sellers can still offer buyer agents compensation, and most probably will. However, agents will no longer be able to communicate this offer through the MLS. All fields that show how much seller is offering buyer agent compensation will be stripped away.  Agents and MLS’s cannot set up 3rd party sites to do this either. The exception is agents can post this information on their own websites, signs, newsletters, advertisements, etc. For a lawsuit that said it wanted to add transparency, it sure took away transparency and made it harder for buyers.

What Doesn’t Change

Realtor commissions were never set by the National Association of Realtors. This Realtor commission lawsuit settlement does nothing to change that. Commission rates were always determined by the value brought to the table by the agent, along with supply and demand. Supply and demand are the culmination of the number of transactions available in the market divided into the number of agents licensed and available to do the work.

Sellers can still offer buyer agent compensation. The only thing that changes is it cannot be listed publicly in the MLS. The settlement says the offer can still be made many other ways, and it is not prohibited.

Who Wins

Large agent teams and experienced agents. The Realtor commission lawsuit settlement mandates that buyers sign a buyer brokerage agreement before an agent can show them property. This agreement spells out how much the buyer will compensate the buyer agent on the transaction. Many agents use a buyer broker agreement, but it was never mandatory nationwide. Sellers do not have to offer buyer agent compensation. Some buyers may try to save some money and go directly to listing agents. Agents that do not carry listings, or who are not great at spelling out their value proposition will have a hard time converting buyers to work with them.

When less experienced agents get out of the business, more experienced agents will pick up market share.

Who Loses

Buyers, less experienced agents, single agents, the portals, and sellers who hire the least expensive agent they can find.

If compensation is written into the contract, the seller can still pay it. If a seller is not paying buyer agent compensation, a buyer can request the seller to pay some of buyer’s closing costs, and the commission is a closing cost to the buyer. However, with some loans there are limits to how much a seller can contribute, and if the buyer also needs other closing costs built in, it may go over the loan’s limits. Lastly, FHA and VA currently prohibit buyers from paying commission, so seller would have to pay it outright and not in the form of buyer closing costs, or the buyer cannot purchase the home.

Buyers will be blind when looking at listings online as to whether the seller is offering their buyer agent compensation. The Realtor commission lawsuit settlement will create extra work, delays, and added anxiety for buyers. Some buyers may not buy altogether.

Some Sellers Will Lose Too

Sellers may lose because they might try to save a buyer agent commission by not offering one. The seller may receive fewer showings because buyers may say I’m not even interested because they cannot afford to pay the down payment, bank closing costs, title fees, and buyer agent commission, so they move on to sellers who will. Sellers may see increased time on the market and a decrease in showings. Later they may decide to offer buyer agent compensation, but they will have wasted valuable time on the market.

Single agents will lose. Many agents pay real estate portals like Zillow and Realtor.com for buyer leads. These portals were kind of sneaky because they would place a contact agent on the listing display, but it wasn’t the listing agent. Buyers thought they were contacting the listing agent. In reality they were contacting agents who advertised on the portal. Buyers who are reluctant to pay a separate buyer agent will not want to deal with a buyer agent advertising on the portal. Those buyers will want to go directly to the listing agent, or with their own buyer agent they’ve hired.

Smaller agents will have to find another way to attract business. Additionally, less experienced agents tend to have a harder time explaining their value proposition, perhaps because they don’t really have one. Forcing the buyers to sign buyer brokerage agreements before they see property may not go so well for less experienced agents. This is why many are predicting many agents will get out of the business quickly.

7 Predictions

  1. Short Term– Many agents will leave the business or try to extend their career until the end of the year because their board and MLS fees are paid up. They may offer services they cannot perform because they don’t have the money, or offer reduced fees just to scrape by. By reducing their fee, they will be forced to offer less, and risk their client being dissatisfied with their service. They may extend their career by 6 months, but in the end not much will change and there will be a ton of buyer and seller listings expiring at the end of the year.
  2. Listing Agents may get busier as more buyers contact them directly. Agents will have to build in a fee to cover this extra load, because they may end up doing both sides of the deal which takes time. People do not realize how much time buyer agents spend with buyers, but listing agents do and they’re going to charge for this. For example, let’s say a listing agent has 20 listings. If each listing receives 20 showings before it goes under contract, that is 400 showings. A listing agent cannot be at 400 places at once, negotiate contracts, go on listing appointments, create the advertising, and all the things that go into selling a home. Listing agents will have to hire buyer agents or showing assistants to do this. These agents will need to be compensated, or they won’t do it, so the buyer compensation side never really goes away. The older system really was more transparent and efficient than the new system, nonetheless here we are.
  3.  Buyers Hurt The Most-Buyers will be hurt the worst and may be forced to go directly to the listing agents because they cannot afford a fee. They will not save on the house, and they may have to wait to see the home if the single agent has no help. Meanwhile, the home could sell while they are waiting for a showing.
  4. Sellers– will require agents to spend more advertising their home. The portals won’t attract buyers like they used to, so sellers will seek out agents who advertise. Listing agents will be forced to spend more money, because if they don’t, sellers will be unhappy and fire them when their listing expires. Sellers will ask more questions about qualifications and experience and want to see how their home will be marketed. Simply listing it on Zillow and realtor.com won’t cut it anymore.Some sellers will try it the hard way. They’ll try to hire a listing agent for as inexpensive as they can without knowing what all these changes are going to bring. Many will fail miserably and not get the results they were trying to save. These sellers will go back to step one and interview agents asking the questions mentioned above, this time through the lens of personal experience.
  5. Agents-Some will leave. Others will join a team who can afford to advertise and create leads. The buyer side of the business isn’t going away, but who the buyer calls might change. Agents will have some choices to make soon.
  6. Portals-The portals will change business models, or go out of business, or both. Zillow lost $158 million in 2023. If they cannot make money before the settlement, how are they going to do so afterwards when many agents leave the business and stop advertising, unless they change their model? There will be less real estate agents in the business to advertise with the portals. Secondly, why would agents pay Zillow, Realtor.com, and others to advertise for buyers when they struggle to convert them to actual closings? Remember, buyers are going to be hurt the worst by this agreement. The agents who advertise for buyers on the portals tend to be agents looking for buyer business they can convert. This blows up the whole portal model that basically just got between agents and consumers in the first place. Portals took agent listing data, displayed it on Internet, and charged other agents for privilege of advertising to get business off those listings.Look for real estate portals to pivot to attract sellers and sell those leads to listing agents for referral fees, monthly spend, or both
  7. Commissions-Rates were never set before the Realtor commission lawsuit settlement, and they won’t be now. This agreement does nothing to bring rates down. In fact, commission rates could increase when there are less agents in the business. Remember, rates are determined by agent count and the number of available transactions to work on. If you decrease agent count, there is more work and less competition. Buyers and sellers will be better off working with better agents, but the rates may not change much. The market will determine commission rates.

Media Headlines

We’ve seen headlines that say home prices will come down, or gone are the days of the 6% commission. First off, there never was a standard commission. We’ve seen rates go up and down based upon market conditions, agent count, locations, etc. Why do you think builders raise and lower agent commission when they are selling builder product? They do so to move product, and it’s based upon market conditions. The resale market is no different, and that’s not because someone up top is setting commission rates. The market dictates that.

As to home prices, if the seller saved some commission by not paying a buyer agent commission, what’s the chance they would pass that along to the buyer? If the seller can get it, they will keep it. The media makes all kinds of sensational headlines because they are there to sell stories. The media doesn’t care whether the headline comes true or not, they just need stories that sell. Most reporters don’t understand the market dynamics, so how could they offer a credible prediction?


I think the previous system worked efficiently. The new system takes away transparency and hurts buyers. It will also hurt some sellers who do not understand the changes and what the implications mean. Some agents will do better, and some will do worse.

Who you hire matters more today than ever! We can foresee sellers and buyers listing with an agent and wondering why they’re not hearing from them, only to find out the agent they hired is no longer in the business, or they’re hanging on but overloaded, underfunded, and have no idea what to do next.

If you have questions about selling your property, talk to the Real Estate Experts, Brett and Sande Ellis 239-310-6500. We advertise more than other agents, and we’ve run a team for over 30 years, so we know what it takes to get your home sold in this new environment. Don’t risk your home sale to an inexperienced agent who doesn’t understand the Realtor commission lawsuit settlement or doesn’t have the resources to market and show your home.

Introducing our newsest tool, the Equity Analysis  You’ll be able to check your home value and track your loan balance. This tool will also offer some insights on what you can do with that equity, and when might be a good time to refinance in the future.

Good luck, and Happy Selling!


2024 Total pending sales equals last year’s numbers. In 2023 Lee County saw 2,254 total pending sales for single family homes, condos, and manufactured homes on March 21, 2023. We track numbers every Tuesday, so this year’s numbers came out March 19, 2024. The current year’s numbers show 2,234, which is pretty close to last year.

Total Pending Sales Equals 2023 Numbers

The difference though isn’t in the pending sales. It is in the active listings. In 2023 we had 5,458 total active listings across all residential property types for sale. In 2024 we have 10,745 which is almost double the listings.

Roughly, Lee County total pending sales equals 2023 numbers and double the listings. For this reason it is almost impossible for price to rise in this environment.  While official numbers are not out yet as we write this article, we are tracking some interesting unofficial sales numbers in Lee County.

Compare today’s supply-demand vs August Housing Demand Gap.

Unofficial Numbers

Unofficially we can track 976 single family home sales in Lee County through our MLS. The median sales price in February 2024 was $430,000 and the average sales price was $586,665. In 2023 the official sales were 1,024 with a median sales price of $447,500 and an average sales price of $573,104.

We know the official numbers will contain a few extra sales from outside MLS’s that could change these numbers a bit. If our numbers were official, we would say the median sales price is down 3.91% from last year and the average sales price is up 2.37%.

These unofficial numbers are similar to what we have been tracking in recent months, so nothing is startling. The real question is, what will happen to home sales after season?

Last year home sales fell off after May. This is nothing new as they usually do. Last year’s drop-off seemed more severe than it was because prices were also dropping in 2023. The 2nd half of 2023 just didn’t feel very good to home sellers and agents.

Interest rates were also on the rise in 2023.  In 2024 interest rates seemed to have peaked, and the speculation isn’t around how much higher they may go versus when they will start dropping. This is a very different event than what we saw in 2023, so there is optimism.

Sellers have questions though as buyers may hold off in anticipation of rates going lower someday.  When rates start dropping, will buyers jump, or will they wait for them to keep falling? As the Fed holds off on rate cuts, what will happen with the economy?


The Ellis Team Current Market Index has actually been improving since January 9th. We do not publish the index to the public anymore as we reserve that for our clients, but we can say even though inventory is still rising, the index is improving. If we see this number improving through the month of April, we will feel better about the summer market.

Commission Lawsuit

We have seen several stories by the media about the recently proposed NAR Commission lawsuit settlement. Suffice it to say the media does not understand the terms nor the realities of what’s next. If you have questions about the proposal and are considering buying or selling in the coming months, reach out to us for details.  239-310-6500 The public will have questions, and it pays to get advice from those that know versus the media that does not.

Equity Analysis

Could you benefit from an equity analysis on your home? Not only will you learn the value of your home, you’ll also learn when it pays to refinance, buy investment property, and other uses for your money. Our equity analysis tool is insightful and keeps you updated each month on the changes in your equity. It even keeps track of how much you’re paying down your loan and PMI.

Equity Analysis tool

Equity Analysis Tool

Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-310-6500. We have the tools to help you make good decisions.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Open House Saturday 12pm-4pm

Cinnamon Cove Open House
Open House Saturday 12-4 PM

11220 Caravel Cir #110 Fort Myers, FL

Open House Sunday 12pm-4pm

Whiskey Creek Open House
Whiskey Creek Open House Sunday 12-4 pm

8515 Oakshade Cir #101


Mortgage rates seem outrageously high until we look at mortgage rate historical averages. We will explore two concepts relating to mortgage rates today.

Nationwide resale home inventory is low because many homeowners feel trapped in their home as they do not want to relinquish their 3% interest rate. To them, selling and buying today seems like a financial penalty. Buyers nationwide have little to choose from, so not only are they paying higher rates, but they are also bidding for houses.

Normal Inventory in SW Florida

Of course, we do not have that issue in Southwest Florida as we have 6,694 single family homes on the market in Lee County right now. Buyers have an excellent choice to choose from.

One thing we know is when a home no longer suits your needs, you can only stay in it so long no matter the interest rate. Life changes. People sometimes relocate, there can be additions to families, subtractions when kids move out, or worse, death or divorce. The only thing constant is life never stands still, so consequently housing needs change.

People hold onto those low rates as long as they can, but then the pain of living in the wrong situation outweighs the savings of a low rate. Rates only seem high because for the last decade or so they have been abnormally low. Rtes are not high when you look at the mortgage rate historical averages.

Rates Below Normal Today

I just checked and rates today for a borrower with a high credit score and putting 20% down is 6.966% That’s less than the historical average of 7.74%

Mortgage Rate Historical Averages

We believe home sale transactions nationwide will begin picking up steam into next year, as long as the economy stays where it is. We believe this because life is changing, and people have been holding off for as long as they can, and as each year passes more people will begin the home transfer process.

Experts were expecting the Fed to cut rates 6-9 times this year.  We now know that is not true. Some are predicting 2 rate cuts this year starting in June. Time will tell if this is true. We believe rates will begin to fall, but June may be optimistic given the inflation numbers we look at.

Smart Buyers

Smart buyers in SW Florida are making the move now though. Currently we have excellent inventory for buyers, and sellers are more willing to make concessions today.  This may not be true when rates start falling again. Buyers have a window to lock in today’s prices and concessions, and another window to refinance later when rates come down. That is 2 windows open to buyers who can look through the window and see the future.

Later, one of those windows will close. Yes, buyers may be able to take advantage of lower rates in the future, but they might be staring at higher prices and less concessions from sellers. Just ask buyers from two years ago how fun it was to buy a house in SW Florida. We had multiple offers on almost every home, and sellers didn’t have to budge an inch to sell their home. In fact, many buyers waived inspections and paid way over asking price just to score a home.

Back to Normal

We discussed today’s interest rates from both the seller and buyer’s perspective. The reality is we are living in normal times, and normal feels abnormal because we just went through abnormal, and people rationalized it as the new normal. 2 years ago was never the new normal. Today is normal, and it’s not new. When you go back and look at history, we can see that the market is behaving exactly as it should. Get used to normal. I hesitate to say the new normal, because this is the old normal and it seems odd because we’ve gotten back to the real normal.

Take it from us, we know a thing or two about Normal. We’ve practiced real estate here for almost 40 years, but once upon a time we moved to SW Florida from Normal, IL. So, if you’ve got questions about Normal, we’ve got answers. 239-489-4042

Good luck, and Happy House Hunting!

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Open House Sunday 10AM-12PM

11220 Caravel Cir #110

Cinnamon Cove Open House
Open House Sunday 10AM-12PM

Open House Sunday 1-4 PM

16710 Partridge Place Rd #204

The Forest Country Club Fort Myers
Golf Course View

Open House Sunday 1-4 PM

4519 Orange Grove Blvd, North Fort Myers

Waterway Estates Home in North Fort Myers Florida
Open House Waterway Estates

We study nationwide new home starts because it affects housing supply, which affects home prices.

During the last housing bubble builders stopped building which led to an under supply of new homes coming to the market. Consequently, we estimate we were about 1.5 million homes nationwide short of keeping up with demand.

Nationwide New Home Starts

As you can see from the chart, from 2008 to 2021 we did not build enough homes.  In 2021 and 2022 we surpassed the 1 million home mark, but in no way could that make up for the nationwide new home starts deficit from the preceding 12 years.

Need 1 Million New Home Starts Annually

Traditionally we need about 1 million nationwide new home starts every year. We didn’t make that number in 2023. This year the National Association of Home Builders met in Las Vegas and predicts they will build about 988,000 units, up 4.2% from last year. NAHB also predicts they will build about 1.03 million in 2025. These numbers are predicated upon the assumption the Fed will reduce rates 2 to 3 times this year, and even more in 2025.

We agree the Fed will reduce rates. We’re not sure if it will be this year, or if it will be 2-3 times in 2024. If the Fed does not reduce rates in 2024, the NAHB prediction of 988,000 new homes being built might be in jeopardy. The good news is homes are not built in a day. Because they are forecasting these rate cuts later in the year, they would have to begin building homes earlier. This means that even if they are wrong on when rate cuts will occur, they might still start close to that number.

Nationwide new home starts can impact future home prices. When the country does not have enough resale inventory and new home sale starts, prices can go up if there is buyer demand. People need to live somewhere, and housing has not been keeping up.

Muti-Family Construction

Many apartments have been built to keep up with demand. Demand was so high rents kept escalating. Some say builders overbuilt in this sector, which could lead to lower rents. If rents got low enough, it could temper buyer demand if it’s a better deal than buying in the minds of renters.

In Southwest Florida we have a nice selection of resale homes. Currently we have about a 6-month supply of homes on the market. Once rates start declining, home buyer demand should increase.

If resale inventory declines, will the tepid new home starts be enough? Will more sellers decide to list, and what will that do to local inventory? You begin to see future home prices are a math equation influenced by existing homeowners and their desires to stay or list, new home starts, interest rates, affordability, and rent prices. The variables change by the week, and this is why we study the macro numbers so our clients have the very best information to make decisions.

Thinking of Selling?

If you’re thinking of selling, you’re probably asking yourself when the best time is. We say this, because this is the question we get asked the most. The answer is it depends on what you own, where you’re going, and your timeframe.

We cannot give blanket answers. Each situation depends on your circumstances. What we can do is sit down with you, listen to your goals, and offer advice based upon your needs. The Ellis Team isn’t in this to make a sale. We do this to solve a need.

If you’d like to speak with Sande or Brett about your situation, call us at 239-310-6500 We’ll be happy to sit down, evaluate your home, and listen. We’re free to talk to, but it can sure cost you not to speak with us.

Or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com to get a good idea of what your home is worth. We can talk when you’re ready.

Good luck, and Happy Home Selling!


Median January 2024 home prices fell 3.6% from last year. Average home prices were up 8.7% in January. The reason we don’t look at average home prices as an official number is because it can be skewed by a few large sales and tends to be more volatile.

January 2024 Home Prices Fell 3.6% From Last Year


Home prices typically rise from January through May because they are seasonal. Our highest home sales typically close in season and culminate in May. We will be keeping a close eye on home sale prices going forward into February and March.

Pending Sales

We are down 133 pending sales from this time last year.  Single family listings are almost double what they were last year. In my mind, double the listings and 133 fewer pending sales is not the equation for price increases. However, in time prices will naturally increase once supply and demand levels out as repaired homes from the hurricane will have newer roofs, windows, appliances, flooring, and other items that will increase the salability of older homes that needed some updating.

In time, prices will rise, and it could start later this year. Once inventory begins to level off and pending sales rise due to future lower interest rates, it will give us a chance to work down some of this inventory. We don’t know for certain when interest rates will begin to fall, how much they will fall, and what shape the economy will be in once they do begin to move.

High Rates to Hang Around?

For now, high interest rates seem to be in the cards. Everybody was talking about several rate cuts this year. Now the experts are not thinking that. What nobody is talking about is what if the feds must raise rates again. Hopefully holding rates steady will tame inflation, but higher oil prices can move inflation higher quickly, and we’re not doing anything to tackle energy prices. So, we sit and wait, and pray that things work out.

We have some good news on the insurance front as more carriers are entering Florida. We still believe this will take a few years to translate into lower rates, but we’re hopeful. We’re also hopeful we’ll see a modest storm season this summer; however, weather experts are expecting a transition from El Nino to La Nina this summer and warn of a very active hurricane season.

Hurricane Season

It’s a shame that Floridians know so much about La Nina and El Nino, but they do because they need to. An active hurricane season, it doesn’t mean one will hit here. When you were the target of a big one, the next few years seem like everything will come our way. SW Florida escaped the big one after Hurricane Donna in 1960 for about 50+ years when Hurricane Charley hit. I remember locals telling newcomers that hurricanes never come here because they hadn’t seen one personally. Our fear or confidence comes only from our experience and not from actual statistics. Statistically, we may not see another big one here for a while, but then again, we must always prepare.

Cautious Optimism

We are watching pending home sales. We are encouraged that they have risen in the past few weeks. If they continue rising into March it could be a good sign if rates do decline later this year. We track them weekly and will report our findings. Official February numbers will not be released until the 3rd week of March, but we’ll have some preliminary numbers for you before then.

As always, if you have real estate questions, or are considering buying or selling in SW Florida, it pays to work with an experienced team that knows the numbers. We can be reached at 239-310-6500, or visit www.LeeCountyOnline.com to search the MLS like a pro.

Good luck, and Happy Selling!