When I was first licensed back in 1985 all REALTORS® worked for the Seller by virtue of the MLS under a "unilateral offer of sub-agency" In the late 1980's the California legislature unanimously passed the agency disclosure law. This led to the CAR Model Rules, which changed a MLS from a "unilateral offer of sub-agency" to a "unilateral offer of compensation, sub-agency optional." By the early 1990's each State passed a statute law to create buyers' agency.
Currently, NAR is the defendant in a class action suit that seeks to have home buyers pay their brokers directly, rather than having listing brokers pay buyer brokers from what the seller pays the listing broker. The plaintiff's suit alleges that some NAR rules violate the Sherman Anti-trust Act by inflating Seller's costs. The Participation Rule requires listing brokers to offer a blanket, unilateral offer of compensation to buyer brokers in order to submit a listing into a REALTOR®-affiliated MLS. The Clear Cooperation Policy requires listing brokers to submit a listing to their REALTOR®-affiliated MLS within so many business days of marketing a property to the public.
NAR guidance for local MLS broker marketplaces has long been recognized to promote fair, transparent, and competitive real estate markets for consumers and businesses. If the plaintiff's class action suit against NAR prevails it could revert the real estate world back to a unilateral offer of sub-agency model where agents exclusively represent the Seller. The Buyer would then be required to hire and compensate their agent for exclusive representation or be unrepresented and operate under the old model of "Buyer beware". Stay tuned as the class action suit goes to trial this fall.