Lisa Dunn was on her way to the American Automobile Association headquarters in Mission Viejo, California when her phone started blowing up. It was July 1, and the U.S. Department of Justice had just fired off a press release saying it withdrew from an antitrust settlement hammered out last November with the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the trade group that represents the vast majority of U.S. real estate agents and spends more annually on lobbying the federal government than any organization in the country.
“The Department is taking this action to permit a broader investigation of NAR’s rules and conduct to proceed without restriction,” the release declared. The DOJ also repeatedly mentioned commission costs, noting Americans “paid over $85 billion in residential real estate commissions last year.”
The founder of Laurel Real Estate and a veteran Orange County agent, Dunn is also part of NAR’s board of directors.
“People thought, ‘Oh, Lisa will know what to do,’” Dunn recalled.
But Dunn didn’t know, not even after an hour-and-a-half chat on Clubhouse later that night with concerned agents. She couldn’t advise other agents because NAR was not advising her. “They were relatively tight-lipped,” Dunn said of the trade group.