The National Association of Realtors demonstrates no moral principles or honesty.

John Fulton
10 min readOct 9, 2018


I’m going to make 3 points and attempt to prove them to you to your complete and total satisfaction. If you objectively read this post from beginning to end, I believe you will agree that the evidence I have provided supports these points beyond any reasonable doubt:

1. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is an unscrupulous trade group

2. NAR publishes false and misleading studies

3. NAR is knowingly misleading consumers for profits

To give you a little background: NAR makes no attempt to tell the truth in their publications. Their studies are so reckless and unscrupulous that even Realtors have said, enough is enough. Enough with the thinly vailed scholarship because when you patronize homeowners with transparent bullshit, it hurts Realtors. I am a Realtor, and I’d like to make the truth available to people whether I stand to benefit from it or not.

Logic is defined as reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity. Your critical thinking faculties have been finely tuned over thousands of years because it’s advantageous to be able to call bullshit when you see it. For example, if I said to you, “My hair is longer than yours, so it must grow faster”, you are either going to stare at me incredulously over such a preposterous statement, or you are unfortunately going to get in line to buy my snake oil hair-growth supplements. NAR’s senior editor, Graham Wood and Research Survey Analyst, Amanda Riggs bets you’re in the latter category.

A few months back the National Association of Realtors (NAR) published an article, titled, “The Cost of Selling Without a Real Estate Agent”, which is a cancer that metastasized from another article written by Riggs, title, Selling Your Home Solo to Save Money? You’ll Actually Make Less Than You Think.

Any fair-minded person would deduce from these headlines that the rest of the article is going to unpack how agents sell homes for more money than owners who sell themselves.

“sellers who choose to sell their home on their own just may experience “seller’s regret” when they see how much less they get for their properties.”

Confirmed — that’s precisely what this article is about. They go on to say:

“FSBOs earn an average of $60,000 to $90,000 less on the sale of their home than sellers who work with a real estate agent, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Here’s the breakdown:

· All agent-assisted homes: $250,000 (median selling price)

· All FSBO homes: $190,000

· FSBO homes when buyer knew seller: $160,300

With this kind of discrepancy, why would any seller choose to go it alone? Some may want to avoid paying an agent’s commission — but even factoring that in, FSBOs still stand to make less on their home sale.”

They are explicitly telling you if you try to sell on your own in an effort to save the commission, you fucking shouldn’t because you’ll lose more than the money you’re trying to save. Your deficit of “market expertise and sales skills” translates to an average of $60,000 to $90,000 less” in losses.

How stupid do they think you are? Comparing apples to apples is statistics 101. What would NAR think of a Realtor going around advertising that his brokerage is a better brokerage than XYZ Realty, because he or she sells homes for an average of $60-$90,000 more, only to discover that his brokerage deals primarily with single family homes and the other broker sells CONDOS AND APARTMENTS. That kind of false advertising supported by misinformation is the kind of thing the State Real Estate Commission would consider to be grounds for disciplinary action.

I was however, quite pleased to see the pushback in the audience comment section:

There was enough commotion to inspire the editor to reach out to Research Analyst, Amanda Riggs for comment. I wonder how that conversation went. Did he pretend to know nothing about statistics — or did he actually read what he published and take notice of the blatant attempt to mislead people, and plead with her to withdrawal the content and put a stop to the humiliation? It would appear Graham is complicit in all this:

“The price data is just headline numbers”. What the hell does that even mean? Headline — like, spammy, clickbait headlines? In no way does she address any of the concerns raised about how misleading the narrative is, but she does go on to reinforce precisely what everybody was saying: This data doesn’t mean what NAR is saying it means. She states in her response, “There are differences in the type of home which we publish in the report- 13% of FSBOs are mobile homes compared to just 3% among all sellers. There are higher concentrations of rural properties among FSBO sellers.” No shit Sherlock! Exactly! That’s what everybody is saying — you can’t use a FSBO sample with more than 4 times the number of mobile homes, that’s not comparing like-with-like! You can’t ascertain that a homeowner could potentially lose $60–90 grand, which is precisely what the article is leading people to believe. She didn’t address any of that — she just restated what everybody already pointed out in the comments. She can’t possibly be that stupid and confused, she is knowingly publishing misleading information. Again, from the article:

“With this kind of discrepancy, why would any seller choose to go it alone? Some may want to avoid paying an agent’s commission — but even factoring that in, FSBOs still stand to make less on their home sale.”

Folks, it gets even WORSE than this…

In 2014 NAR greenlighted something much more serious than the unlettered piffle Riggs and Wood treated us to in the articles above. They published an official report that contained a study that arrived at another spurious conclusion that Realtors sell homes for 13% more than people who sell by-owner. In their 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, they stated:

“FSBOs typically have a lower median selling price: $208,700 compared to $235,000. Thus, the typical agent-assisted home sale typically has a 13 percent higher sales price than the typical FSBO sale.”

Here’s the problem. This nonsense isn’t only distributed via email blast to Realtors. A Google search shows the phrasing regarding the selling prices has been cited hundreds of times in online publications from websites, blogs, and LinkedIn articles, the clear majority of which are written by brokers and agents using this 13% figure to advance the notion that you will lose money if you sell yourself. Look at how ridiculous this gets… “For Sale by Owners? Go Ahead, Sell for Less.” Utterly ridiculous:

The gist of these narratives can be summed up by a couple of sentences from this agent’s unfortunate blog: “Trying to sell your home without a Realtor is a major mistake. In fact, doing it on your own could cost you thousands.”

John Wake is a Realtor and a trained economist and SMASHED this study to pieces on his blog, Real Estate Decoded. What I like about John is that even though he’s a Realtor and would stand to benefit from these claims, he’s not going to lie or even stand idly by while people are lied to. Although I imagine he has better things to do than clean up the mess NAR makes, he very generously walks through each blunder:

Essentially, NAR took the median sales price of an agent assisted sale of $235,000 and divided it by the median FSBO sales price of $208,000 to get the 13%. That’s all it takes to contribute to the disinformation on the internet when you’re academic bar is set as low as the one for Realtor’s. Hey consumers, do you want to look through the report Amanda Riggs mentioned and investigate the claims they’re making? No problem, all you gotta do is buy the full report from NAR for $250.00.

Do you agree NAR is rather disgraceful for publishing this stuff? I’m willing to bet a 3rd grader would know better than to equate two sample sets, when one has more than 4 times the mobile home representation. Their elementary notion of ethics would prevent them from knowingly writing an article to mislead people. If not, this person may be a great future candidate for NAR. Perhaps he or she will cut their teeth selling oils and moisturizers before transitioning into a Research Survey Analyst position. You can’t make this shit up:

Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with selling packaged goods, and a lot of people from Amway leave to try real estate and vice versa, but can we reserve research positions for people with a perspicacity for statistics and analytics? Perhaps that is why they disingenuously publish things that no self-respecting researcher would even dream of publishing.

The root of this problem is, of course, money. NAR’s revenues exceeded $200 million last year. They are happy to lie about the nature of residential resales if that helps keep more Realtors employed, who turn around and pay NAR membership dues. Their priority is to keep commissions high, and to lead sellers to believe they can’t sell on their own. If sellers learn the truth, NAR loses money. An empirical study was performed and found reducing the commission rate by just 1/2 would decrease the number of new agents by a third! They also found that this translates into $2 billion of savings for consumers and $900 million of cost savings from fewer real estate agents. Would you be surprised to learn that the only way to ruin an industry worse than allowing anyone with 3 months and $300 bucks to get a license is to then fix the 5/6% commission into place so the market can’t reward good agents or punish bad ones?

Anyway, so what’s the true figure? How much more money will a Realtor sell your home for when you control for variables like housing types? When a proper, peer-reviewed study is published, there are two empirical outcomes:

1. There is no difference in sale prices between FSBOs and agent-assisted sales

2. By-owner sellers actually sell their homes for more

Here are just two studies performed on this topic:

Department of Economics — Center for the Study of Industrial Organization (CSIO), Northwestern University: The Relative Performance of Real Estate Marketing Platforms


“With full access to data from both platforms, Nevo and his colleagues found that their raw data confirmed that owner sellers achieved higher prices for their homes. The average premium was 11 percent, or $14,800. That’s on top of the funds that sellers who used Realtors lost in the form of a commission.”

Stanford University and National Bureau of Economic Research: How Much Value do Real Estate Brokers Add? A Case Study.

“We find no evidence that the use of a broker leads to higher average selling prices, or that it significantly alters average initial asking prices.”

We need to hold all NAR and all its shills’ feet to the fire. They need to understand that they cannot get away with false advertising.

Visit its website at and click on “File a Consumer Complaint.” You will be taken to the FTC’s complaint assistant. At the assistant, you should select a Category. Most false advertising complaints will fall under “Other.”

Why am I so pissed off? Because there is a retirement savings crisis, a student loan crises, and a credit card debt crisis. How dare NAR mislead people who want sell their home on their own and retain their hard-won equity. I was recently involved in a transaction where I had the buyer. I learned the young lady who was selling the home had about 40 grand in equity. The 5% real estate commission she paid was close to 40% of her total equity position. Not everybody should be hiring a Realtor, but they do because they’re scared — they’ve been indoctrinated into thinking they couldn’t possibly sell on their own. To that end, NAR has been effective in perpetuating these myths. However, there is a movement of conscientious Realtors and brokers, venture capitalists, economists, technologists, and entrepreneurs who wish to see a reformed residential resales industry. One in which integrity is at the foundation of everything we do and say. That is what benefits consumer in the long run. Would it come as a surprise to you that NAR is the second largest lobbying organization in the world, and that they have a history of violating anti-trust competition laws? Visit the Department of Justice’s page, “Enforcing Antitrust Laws in the Real Estate Industry” and take notice of the string of investigations and crackdowns on NAR’s anti-competitive behavior. If homeowners saw how the real estate sausage was made, they’d be sick. There is an industry within an industry, full of superfluous costs, sinecures, and lies. I repeat:

1. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is an unscrupulous trade group

2. NAR publishes false and misleading studies

3. NAR is knowingly misleading consumers but doesn’t care



John Fulton

Proptech contemplative. Obsessed with marketplaces. Fundraising for