NAR empowers “vocal volunteers” to use their own platforms to educate buyers and sellers about the value of a real estate professional who is a REALTOR®.

National media briefings in the hundreds. Consumer commercials running on broadcast, streaming platforms and local radio all across the country. A full-fledged social media ad blitz. Toolkits and consumer focus groups. Real-time website updates, REALTOR® Magazine Online posts and member-to-member podcasts.

The National Association of REALTORS® left no stone unturned when it came to developing its multi-level communications strategy to educate members and the public on the recent litigation and the proposed settlement to resolve claims brought on behalf of home sellers related to broker commissions.

NAR also prioritized its most potent resource: Mobilizing the voices of its 1.5 million members who know their local markets better than anyone and who are well equipped to explain the value of a REALTOR® to their clients and community members.

“It’s one of the great strengths of NAR, that we have REALTORS® all around the country who are experienced and knowledgeable and passionate—and who can amplify the voice of the profession,” says NAR President Kevin Sears, a broker with Lamacchia Realty/Sears Real Estate in Springfield, Mass. “By telling our story our way, our most vocal NAR members are helping to share accurate information in their communities about the practice changes that are coming and how real estate professionals will guide their clients smoothly through the process.”

Showcasing Member Voices

To support REALTORS® in sharing their stories and perspectives, NAR developed a grassroots initiative to help engaged members proactively educate their clients and communities, sharing suggested news and social media content for REALTORS® to amplify through their own networks and in local news outlets.

Today, nearly 500 members have signed on as NAR grassroots advocates (or “surrogates” as they’ve become informally known) to add their voice. They represent a diverse array of members, coming from every region in the country and include a mix of newer and longtime NAR veteran members.

These volunteers help their peers, clients and community members understand the changes stemming from the proposed legal settlement to ensure a smooth transition. They share regular posts on their social media channels and take questions from reporters and submit op-eds to their local newspapers. They participate in community forums and events about how and why real estate brokerage professionals will continue to be integral to guiding their clients through a process that for most consumers is the most important financial transaction of their lives.

Among the volunteers spreading the word is Deborah Baisden, a 35-year veteran of the business and an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services RW Towne Realty in Virginia Beach, Va. She also happens to be the 2024 chair of NAR’s Member Communications Committee.

“Other agents were coming to me for guidance [on explaining the settlement], and clients I’d worked with in the past were calling to ask, ‘What does this mean?’”

She found herself explaining everything from the consumer advocacy roots of buyer representation to the way cooperative compensation benefits buyers and sellers to the practice changes that are coming. (See “One-Stop News Shop.”)

To equip leaders and members like Baisden with effective content and techniques for earning media attention in their communities, NAR provides regular briefings on effective consumer messaging. Its communications team issues regular email alerts with highlights of recent national and regional media coverage, op-eds, suggested social media content and other NAR resources to make it easier for REALTORS® (who all have day jobs, by the way!) quickly deploy communications to educate their communities.

In May, for example, when the California Association of REALTORS® President Melanie Barker posted an open letter to consumers that appeared in nearly 40 California newspapers, from the Los Angeles Times to the California edition of The Wall Street Journal, NAR quickly shared the concept with surrogates and peer associations. Now, other members and local and state associations are considering similar direct-to-consumer approaches to communicating clearly about the coming proposed settlement changes.

During the same month, more than two dozen volunteer members participated in a virtual media tour about the spring and summer buying season. The outreach resulted in over 700 news placements and served as another powerful platform for promoting REALTORS® and addressing questions about the NAR rule changes coming in August per the proposed settlement agreement. To amplify the messages, NAR included the wave of coverage in one of its email alerts to surrogates for them to share on their own platforms.

As a result of the ongoing support and suggestions from NAR, more members are actively engaging on social media to spread the word.

Surrogates are also helping to shape content to support other members. Six special podcast episodes, part of the member-to-member podcast series Drive With NAR, were produced in response to members’ desire to help members understand how they will be impacted and how to talk to consumers about the settlement. NAR members mobilized to identify topics most valuable to members right now. This initiative has been just one of many to inform members and give them the resources they need to help their clients and prospective clients navigate this “new normal.”

“It’s all about sharing good ideas and impactful results that achieve the singular goal we’re all marching toward: Awareness.” says Carl Lantz, president of the Connecticut Association of REALTORS® and vice chair of NAR’s Member Communications Committee.

“The importance of empowering members to share their story is that the right message gets out to consumers,” says Lantz, an agent with Coldwell Banker Realty in West Hartford, Conn. “As experienced agents, we’re not going to speculate. We’re the experts. We’re going to share accurate information, period. Thanks to NAR’s efforts, we’re able to equip our members with the right information at the right time so they can easily get the word out.”

Promoting His Perspective

One of many examples of members speaking out was an article published in Fortune magazine by Tim Hur, managing broker of Point Honors and Associates, REALTORS®, in Atlanta, with support from the NAR communications staff.

Hur says he appreciated the opportunity to share his experience on the value REALTORS® bring and highlight the many services and behind-the-scenes work agents do that some clients might not yet realize but now will be more aware of as the rule changes go into effect with buyer agreements required to engage an agent before touring a home. He hopes others will do the same.

“Agents and brokers demystify local markets and neighborhoods and provide access to extensive information about available homes. We help prospective buyers determine realistic budgets and research varied financing options, including programs that may be able to help buyers with a down payment.

Seasoned agents and brokers also offer insights into property values, taxes, regulations, and zoning laws while overseeing thorough due diligence processes. And we connect buyers and sellers with other reputable real estate-related professionals such as lawyers, lenders, contractors, and inspectors–any of which can make or break a transaction.

NAR’s proposed settlement agreement and the associated practice changes will not change what makes REALTORS® valuable: specialized knowledge, diligence, and a commitment to our clients’ best interests. And it does not change the fact that millions of people will continue to rely on us to help them fulfill their dream of homeownership.”

Here, here, Tim. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

(Hur’s article is available to read here. Sign-in required.)

Want to share your story? Sign up for NAR highlights and suggested content at

One-Stop News Shop:

When the news of a proposed settlement agreement to end litigation of claims brought on behalf of home sellers related to broker commissions was announced in mid-March, NAR’s immediate priority was to educate members. The association quickly rolled out its multi-level communications plan, including hosting several forums to brief members, the media and other stakeholders.  

In addition to virtual discussions, NAR also established a “one stop shop” for real-time information. is an online resource regularly updated to provide NAR members a comprehensive, detailed overview of the proposed agreement and the anticipated changes. The site includes settlement agreement itself, FAQs, a timeline, and detailed information on upcoming practices changes. Among those communications included:

  • An overview of two practice changes to which NAR agreed: One change requires MLS participants obtain written agreements when working with buyers. The other eliminates the use of the MLS to communicate offers of cooperative compensation.
  • A denial of wrongdoing: The settlement, which remains subject to court approval, makes clear that NAR continues to deny any wrongdoing in connection with the MLS cooperative compensation model rule (MLS Model Rule) that was introduced in the 1990s in response to calls from consumer protection advocates for buyer representation.
  • A regularly updated timeline for the legal proceedings: Two important dates: Aug. 17, 2024, when the practice changes go into effect and Nov. 26, 2024, when a hearing is scheduled for final approval of the settlement.
  • Resources for rule change implementation: NAR issued a new guide—“Written Buyer Agreements 101”—to help agents implement the new practice change requiring written agreements with buyers.
  • Member training: Through the end of the year, NAR members can take the Accredited Buyers Representative course at no charge. Learn more at