N. Carolina Realtors want state to ease pay disclosure rule

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A group of leading North Carolina Realtors hopes to change part of a rule that protects homebuyers from having their search guided by their real estate agent's financial interests.

The presidents of the state's three largest metro Realtor associations are protesting part of a 2008 rule that requires buyer's agents to provide a written disclosure of compensation they might receive from sellers when a home is sold.

Changing such disclosure, said North Carolina Real Estate Commission director of legal services Tom Miller, could once again leave some homebuyers unaware that agents have extra financial motivation - such as a hidden bonus - in showing them a home.

But Tony Jarrett, regional vice president for the Triad for Allen Tate Realtors, said the rule requires burdensome disclosures for potential "in-house" transactions, in which one company employs both the buyer's agent and the agent listing a property for the seller. In those cases, the homebuyer must be told not only what the buyer's agent would receive if the property is sold, but the total compensation being paid to the real estate company.

"We don't believe in-house compensation is a disclosure issue," said Jarrett, who will make a presentation to the commission at its monthly meeting today in Raleigh.

Jarrett is supported by the presidents of Realtor associations in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, each of whom wrote letters on the issue in the past month to the real estate commission.

Real estate brokers are typically paid a commission, or a percentage of the sales price. Some sellers, particularly homebuilders, also pay agencies a bonus for finding buyers. Such extra incentives, which come in the form of cash, trips and gifts, are legal. Before 2008, however, an agent didn't have to acknowledge receiving those extra incentives until after the homebuyer had made a purchase offer on a home. Agents also were only required to tell the customer orally, making the rule hard to enforce.

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