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Navigating New Commission Realities in Veterans’ Journey to Homeownership

By Sam Allen

In the aftermath stirring from the recent commission settlement from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the impact on veterans, such as myself, looms large. Having served as an infantryman in the US Army, I, like many other veterans, turned to VA financing as a useful benefit in navigating the complex journey of homeownership. It’s a path filled with its own battles, yet it promises the peace of a home of our own.

Veteran sitting on front steps of her home

Unique Challenges to VA buyers

However, this new shift in real estate practices — where buyers might now be forced to pay their agent’s commission — threatens to upend this promise for entry-level buyers, especially veterans. Legally, veterans are prohibited from shouldering any commission costs in a VA loan transaction. This isn’t just a bump in the road; it’s a blockade, potentially leaving veterans sidelined in the housing market unless there’s a change in the laws that govern our benefits.

The heart of VA financing is its accessibility and affordability, designed to reward the service of military personnel by providing a tangible pathway to homeownership. But with this unexpected twist, that pathway seems narrower and filled with more hurdles that could keep us from crossing the threshold into homeownership.

Preserving our Values and Priorities

As a recent beneficiary of VA financing, purchasing my move-up home and settling into a new neighborhood with my family, the thought that future veterans might be denied this opportunity is disheartening. This issue cuts deeper than policy; it’s about ensuring that those who’ve served are not barred from the benefits they’ve earned.

This moment calls for a collective reassessment of our values and commitments. Are we more concerned with sellers paying less commission in order to keep as much of their whopping 334% price appreciation over the last 12 years? Or are we more concerned with keeping the dream of homeownership alive, attainable and accessible, especially to those trying to grab the first rung of the ownership ladder? Placing the onus of commission squarely on the buyer’s shoulders, just as they’re trying to come up with down payments, escrow, title, etc. has a direct negative impact on affordability. We must advocate for solutions that keep the dream of homeownership accessible to all who’ve served, ensuring that the sacrifices made in uniform translate into security and stability on the home front.

Adapt and Overcome

Veterans are used to overcoming obstacles. It’s what we do. As we move forward, many more twists and turns will be brought to light. The implications of these changes are far-reaching and the dust has yet to settle. This view into the direct impact on veterans is just a small example of other problems yet to be identified. It’s crucial to bridge these gaps in understanding with thoughtful advocacy and prompt legal adjustments. The dream of homeownership for veterans and for all people trying to attain the American Dream should not be diminished by shortsighted lawsuits and unforeseen legal barriers.