Every week we still have agents asking us if they need to buy GAR forms. Short answer, NO!
For decades GAR forms were free. But, several years ago, GAR decided to charge agents $229.00 dollars a year for the use of their forms. Makes sense, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is one of America’s largest influence peddling machines. And with Rupert Murdoch as their puppet master, why aren’t they charging more?
But, rise up Atlanta, if you are with any of our many independent Brokers, chances are you are a “Little r”. And, in Atlanta, Little “r”s don’t have to pay! Only agents who are forced to join Realtor Boards have to pay for GAR forms. Those are mostly the franchise chain store agents. Their Brokers, because of national franchise agreements, MUST force NAR participation on every one of its agents. They have no choice.
The confusion surrounding the use of GAR forms comes from petty politics and gamesmanship. Too many old-school franchise Brokers won’t let it go. They cling to their allegiance in GAR talking points as if they were some sort of holy gospel. More realistically; the franchise stores simply hate the fact they are forced to pay for contract forms while all the little r’s don’t have to pay for contract forms. Simple as that.
But here is a fact: the FREE contractual forms on FMLS are just as good as any paid GAR form. There is absolutely no legal difference. (We will admit however, the GAR forms are much prettier)
Think it through. FMLS has been serving the needs of tens of thousands of real estate agents for over 6 decades. Does anyone really believe they would disturbing some sort of discount legal forms they got off Craigslist? The idea is silly.
Yet every week, some big R will ask one of our agent to “redo” their offer because it isn’t on a GAR form. I honestly don’t know how legal that position is? If we remember our coursework, agents must present all valid offers. If that offer is written on a scrap of paper, so be it. Can you imagine the reaction of a home seller when a buyer walks because their offer wasn’t drawn up on an appropriately styled paper?
But, here is the key: agents ARE allowed to share GAR forms, as long as the agents sharing forms are the ones who are on the signature page. So, if some franchiser is giving you a hard time for using an FMLS form, just ask them to send you a GAR form. It will mean an extra step but what are you going to do, pay $229.00 just because of peer pressure? Or, pay the fee because the Broker of the agent you are dealing with is legally required to promote GAR forms?
Of all the things a Broker needs to worry about, pushing GAR forms to make revenue shouldn’t be one of them.
The bottom line is this: if an agent really feels there is value to GAR and its forms, they won’t mind paying. If they don’t see any value, trying to shame them into paying won’t work and it will only create extra work.
Unfortunately this type of nonsense will continue for the next several years. A certain level of friction is bound to happen as the industry transitions from the churn and burn business models of the national franchise to the more localized, and experience-driven business models of today. After all, somebody paid a lot of money for those franchises rights, so you can’t blame them for continuing to fight for relevancy.