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Oppler: Industry expert rebuts – Realtors put consumers first

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Oppler: Industry expert rebuts – Realtors put consumers first

The editorial board piece titled “Realtors must embrace fair rules of competition” is replete with inaccuracies and mischaracterizations about local broker organizations, Realtors and the American real estate industry. In fact, local broker organizations ensure equity, superior customer service and greater options for buyers and sellers. The National Association of Realtors regularly reviews guidelines to maintain practices that increase transparency and improve the consumer experience.

The latest example of advancing positive change is an NAR committee having recently passed motions that more explicitly state the spirit and intent of NAR’s Code of Ethics and MLS guidelines in some key areas. The guidance reinforces greater transparency and disclosure of compensation offered to buyer agents, ensures that listings aren’t excluded from search results based on the amount of compensation offered to buyer agents, and  reinforces that local MLS market participants do not represent brokerage services as free.

The opinion piece suggests another change that would have many unintended consequences: uncoupling commissions and requiring buyers to pay commissions to their brokers. The Boston Herald says this would lower costs when it would, in fact, have the opposite effect. In this scenario, transaction costs would increase for buyers, particularly first-time and low-income homebuyers. Requiring buyers to pay a commission, which can’t be included as part of a mortgage, would increase their out-of-pocket expenses and freeze many out from an already competitive market.

Or buyers would be forced to forgo professional help during what is likely the most complex and consequential transaction they will make in their lifetime. That’s hardly consumer-friendly, especially when 91% of home buyers say they would engage their real estate agent again or recommend them to others. Leaving buyers to fend for themselves would take us back to the old days where the seller controlled the transaction in a “buyer beware” environment.

The Boston Herald piece also grossly mischaracterizes commission norms in other countries, when the American model has, in reality, long been viewed as a best practice for consumers. First, the American approach consolidates and simplifies the process. In other countries, like Ireland and the United Kingdom, fragmented markets make purchasing a home highly inefficient and complicated.

Second, the fragmented models of other countries freeze out smaller brokerages and limit competition. The 88% of Realtors who are small business owners (approximately 1.3 million), a majority women-owned, would have a hard time staying afloat in other countries. In markets abroad, large brokerages are the ones with the resources and much larger sets of listings to compete in fragmented broker markets. The whole point of American local broker organizations is that everyone has equal access to the same set of listings, which levels the playing field for brokerages of all sizes.

Third, the piece also fails to unpack the math for consumers. In other countries, there are additional fees and taxes on top of broker commissions — meaning the costs paid to buyer brokers and attorneys along with much higher direct consumer out-of-pocket expenses — often equate to as much or more than the costs associated with purchasing a home in the U.S. while only providing a fraction of the services consumers receive in America. Expect the cost to sell to be greater outside the U.S. when sellers don’t have the benefit of a shared local database to access buyers and have to pay for things such as listing marketing costs themselves.

In addition, the Boston Herald piece fails to reference that commissions — which are always negotiable at multiple points in the transaction — have decreased steadily in recent years. In 2020, the commission for agents in the U.S. fell to a new average low of 4.94%, according to Real Trends (an indication of how the market drives commissions, not any “standard”), while the average Realtor in America took home just $43,000 in gross annual income. But regardless of the direction commissions are going, the underlying reality is how much Realtors provide critical expertise to help consumers navigate everything from working with attorneys and lenders to making sense of public property information and price trends.

The Boston Herald did get one thing right in its piece: Home prices are rising — to $356,700 in August — which means consumers are accumulating more generational wealth with the help of expert Realtors who guide them through the process and local broker organizations that provide equitable access to brokerages of all sizes and consumers of different means.


Charlie Oppler is president of the National Association of Realtors.

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Dear Abby: Divorced dad still carries torch 10 years later

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Dear Abby: Can’t budge lonely, needy friend from the phone

Dear Abby

By Abigail Van Buren

Dear Abby: I am a 45-year-old divorced father of three. Two of them I share with my ex-wife. We were married for 14 years and have been divorced for 10 years now. Our marriage started falling apart when I became addicted to prescription pain medication. I was using for a couple of years, but I’m sober now.

Our divorce was amicable, and I think we still maintain a great friendship. We call each other occasionally and talk about things other than the kids. After our divorce we both dated and moved in with other people. I am currently single; she’s still in a relationship. She recently called and asked me for advice because she’s not happy in her current relationship.

I have never stopped loving her, but I don’t want to take advantage of her present situation. My kids know how I feel and so do my friends, so she probably does, too. Would it be wrong of me to try to rekindle what we once had, even if there’s the slightest chance of she and her current partner working through their issues? I’m not sure she feels the same way about me as I do her. — Torn in Wisconsin

Dear Torn: When your ex-wife called to tell you things aren’t going well between her and her current partner, she opened the door to you doing what you are contemplating. If they are not married, you have every right to tell her you have never stopped loving her and ask if she might have similar feelings. If she doesn’t, it would be better for you to know that. But if her answer is yes, it would be worth a try.

Dear Abbby: My husband and I always planned on retiring to Florida. Our son, who is married with children, has been diagnosed with a slow-progressing but deadly disease. My husband still wants to move, but now I am not sure. Our son said we should live our life because we worked hard to retire and should go. I don’t know if I could be happy that far away from him and his family now. Please advise. — Hesitant Grandma in Ohio

Dear Hesitant Grandma: I am sorry for the pain you are experiencing regarding your son’s diagnosis. Your husband wants to make the move, and your son has told you he does not want you to change your plans. If it’s financially feasible, it might make sense for you and your husband to rent a place in Florida for a year and, depending upon how well your son is doing, decide later if you want to make it permanent. Perhaps your husband could go ahead without you if you choose to stay behind.

Dear Abby: I have just moved into a room in a shared house. I like the location and my three roommates. In the course of my interview, the screening process to see if I’d be a good fit for the house, I neglected to mention that I have a girlfriend. Naturally, I’d like to have her see the place, meet my roommates and sleep over, but I also don’t want to ruffle any feathers or be premature in having company over. When would be an appropriate time to have this discussion with them? — Pondering in the Presidio

Dear Pondering: If you want a good relationship with your roommates, NOW would be a good time to raise the subject. If you do, you may be pleasantly surprised to find they have no objection. If they did, they should have mentioned something during your interview.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com

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Red Sox add two pitchers, including one from Yankees, in minor league Rule 5 draft

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Red Sox add two pitchers, including one from Yankees, in minor league Rule 5 draft

The lockout didn’t stop the Red Sox from adding to their organizational pitching depth.

After signing three starters to their major league roster just before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, the Red Sox used Wednesday’s minor league Rule 5 draft to find some more arms. With two selections, the Sox drafted left-handed pitcher Austin Lambright and right-hander Brian Keller.

There are normally two phases of the Rule 5 draft — major league and then minor league one — that take place at the end of the Winter Meetings, which would have been this week. But the ongoing lockout suspended the major league portion indefinitely.

The 27-year-old Lambright, a 10th round pick in the 2018 draft, was taken from the Royals, but hasn’t pitched since 2019, when he registered a 2.85 ERA in 47 1/3 innings between Low-A and High-A. COVID-19 cancelled the minor league season in 2020 and an injury kept Lambright out in 2021.

The Red Sox nabbed the 27-year-old Keller from the Yankees organization, where he pitched for Triple-A Scranton in 2021, posting a 2.77 ERA in 55 1/3 innings.

No Red Sox minor leaguers were poached by other teams in Wednesday’s Rule 5 draft.

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Shark attacks are more likely during lunar phases closer to a full moon: Research

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Shark attacks are more likely during lunar phases closer to a full moon: Research

Sharks are more likely to attack humans when the moon is full, according to researchers who found that shark bites may be related to lunar phases.

The shark scientists from Florida and Louisiana looked at nearly 50 years of shark attack data from across the globe to see if there’s a relationship between shark attacks and moon phases.

The researchers discovered there were more attacks during lunar phases closer to a full moon, and fewer shark attacks during phases closer to a new moon.

“There have been long-term questions about what may be driving shark attacks, so we were looking at environmental factors to help us better understand when and where they happen,” said Stephen Midway, an assistant professor in Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences.

“We found that there’s some signal between moon phases and shark attacks,” he said, later adding, “Unfortunately, we don’t have a smoking gun yet, so looking closer at how the moon affects the environment should be studied further.”

The researchers found that more shark attacks than expected occurred when the lunar illumination was greater than 50%, while all the instances of fewer shark attacks than expected happened when the lunar illumination was less than 50%.

A full moon occurs at 100% illumination, a new moon occurs at 0% illumination and first and last quarters occur at 50% illumination.

“Most of the shark attacks were during the daylight hours, so it’s not a nighttime phenomenon attributed to moonlight,” Midway said. “The moon obviously plays a big role in the environment, affecting tides and electromagnetic fields.”

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