Axios Detroit

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Congratulations! We successfully made it through the dreary Ides of March.

☁️ Today's weather: Cloudy again, with a high around 46.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Detroit member Gary Pettit!

🙌 It's a great day to contribute to our newsroom by becoming an Axios Local member.

Today's newsletter is 890 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Joe Guillen and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big thing: A game-changing real estate settlement

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A landmark court settlement could change the way we buy and sell homes in Metro Detroit and elsewhere.

The big picture: The deal does away with realtors' standard 6% commission fee and could reduce the total amount in commissions agents receive by a third, CBS News reported, as the fee becomes something truly negotiable.

  • It could disrupt the way real estate agents work — maybe driving some from the business altogether.

State of play: The National Association of Realtors will pay $418 million in damages to settle allegations it conspired to boost agents' commissions, the organization said last week, as reported by Axios' April Rubin.

  • A federal court still has to approve the deal.
  • Home sellers had sued the powerful Realtors association, which was found liable for keeping agent compensation artificially high.
  • NAR will pay the settlement over about four years and has denied wrongdoing.

Context: As of now, the buyer's and seller's agents generally split the commission, which the seller pays. With lower commissions, and that 3% not being offered for buyers' agents, it could be pricey for homebuyers to get their own representation, James Danley, associate broker with Birmingham-based KW Domain, tells Axios.

  • "Most first-time homebuyers don't have an extra 3% to hire their own buyer's agent and pay out of pocket," he says. "That's gonna leave buyers having no representation."

Between the lines: Some experts think this could drive home prices downward, per the New York Times. But Jeanette Schneider, president of RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan, tells Axios in a statement that home prices are truly influenced by supply and demand.

  • "The limited inventory of homes for sale restricts the options available to buyers, leading to more intense competition," Schneider says. "As long as this dynamic continues, we anticipate upward pressure on prices."

What we're watching: The NAR settlement may drive away hobby agents, but "serious-minded, professional" agents will remain in the business, Schneider adds.

What's next: The settlement could go into effect as early as July, but the big changes won't happen fast.

Read the full story

2. Whitmer proposes deep cuts to watchdog office

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a fireside conversation with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Detroit last month. Photo: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The state's government watchdog wants to know why Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is proposing an $8.3 million cut from its annual budget.

Why it matters: The Office of the Auditor General has found performance and financial issues within several state departments in recent years.

Between the lines: The proposed budget cut is the latest point of contention between Whitmer's administration and auditor general Doug Ringler.

What they're saying: Whitmer's proposed 28% cut of the office's $27 million budget would diminish its ability to fulfill federal audit requirements, Ringler told lawmakers.

  • "We received no advance notice of the executive budget reductions and no direct feedback regarding the reason behind them," Ringler wrote in a letter to House and Senate leaders.

Catch up quick: The Office of the Auditor General uncovered deaths in long-term care facilities in 2022 as well as billions in improper payments by the Unemployment Insurance Agency during the pandemic from March 2020 to December 2022.

  • Another audit released last summer revealed the Michigan Department of Education had failed to create procedures to ensure school districts aren't employing people who've been convicted of crimes that prohibit them from working in schools.
  • Another found that the state's civil rights department was slow to investigate claims of discrimination.

The other side: The governor's office declined to comment on the proposed cut and referred questions to the state budget office.

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3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios; Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

ğŸŽ¥ Detroit's Vinyl Tastings is partnering with Universal Music Group to film a TV pilot about the innovative dinner events, which are inspired by rap and R&B albums. (BridgeDetroit)

👀 "See you in 2029," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told politicians and media members at a dinner in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, embracing speculation that she has national political aspirations. (MLive)

ğŸŽ¨ The DIA is removing some items from its Native American Galleries "in an effort to return cultural items … that likely were taken from Native American communities or individual makers without consent," a sign at the museum reads. (Metro Times)

4. 🏀 Women's March Madness

U of M's Laila Phelia dribbles against Ohio State in Columbus last month. Photo: Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Spartans and Wolverines both earned a spot in one of the most-hyped women's NCAA Tournaments in recent memory.

The big picture: Women's basketball is surging in popularity. Record-breaking audiences are tuning in for Caitlin Clark's sharpshooting and intense rivalries, like last week's South Carolina-LSU battle.

State of play: U of M and Michigan State are each No. 9 seeds in different regions of the bracket.

The bottom line: The road to the Final Four is treacherous for both schools.

  • The No. 1 seeds — South Carolina for MSU and USC for Michigan — likely await if either team wins in the first round.
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🍕 1 loaded veggie pie to go

Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

👋 Joe here.

This small Veggie D ($11) was loaded with mushrooms, green peppers, onions and big hunks of artichokes.

  • The dough was crispy and light, and the artichokes really elevated it above a typical veggie pizza.

Stop by: 8150 W. Nine Mile Road

  • Sunday-Thursday, 4-10pm; Friday and Saturday, 4-11pm

Our picks:

📖 Joe's midlife history fascination is continuing with Jim Garrison's JFK book, "On the Trail of the Assassins."

🥱 Annalise is pretty sure life is kinda overwhelming, and all you can do is things like doing your best, and sometimes not being able to do your best.

😑 Sam is here to tell you this really did happen.