A tactic called “steering,” often derided by real estate agents as a myth, may have contributed to Texas posting the lowest home sales numbers last year since 2016.

Business Insider reported on the quasi-legal phenomenon, suggesting that real estate agents may “steer” clients toward properties with higher commissions. James Rodriguez wrote that the official position of the National Association of Realtors is that steering doesn’t exist. However, several ongoing class action lawsuits are putting pressure on real estate companies to change how commissions are factored into the price of a home.

High mortgage rates are the most likely cause of a declining housing market in Texas, according to reporting by Newsweek. Inflation has driven rates up for several years, which makes the purchase of a large expense, such as a home, more difficult for many buyers.

Business Insider explained there are numerous ways that “shady” real estate agents might steer clients toward higher commission listings.

“All a Realtor has to do is make a face about a house and they put a question in the buyer’s mind as to whether or not it would be wise to put an offer in on a house,” Doug Miller, a Minnesota real-estate attorney, said in an email to Business Insider.

Agents may simply refuse to show listings with unfavorable commissions, tell clients that a low commission is a sign of a difficult selling agent, or tell clients that a low commission will mean the buyer has to cover the difference out of pocket.

Commissions typically range between 5% and 6%, and the profits are split equally between the buyer and seller agents, according to Business Insider. The class action lawsuits seek to undo this process through “decoupling.” Rather than split the proceeds, each party would be responsible for their portion of the commission.

The NAR has come out against decoupling despite its support by the Department of Justice in a recent Statement of Interest.

“The Statement of Interest confirms that the DOJ wants to regulate what sellers and their listing agents are allowed to do with their own money and homes,” NAR spokesperson Mantill Williams told Inman News in a statement. “Prohibiting all offers of compensation will harm consumers, including by making it more costly for home buyers to access capable representation and by reducing access to fair housing.”

Steering could account for at least some of the decline in house sales in Texas, as some buyers may have been shown only properties that were too difficult to afford with historically high mortgage rates. The Federal Reserve is expected to reduce the benchmark rate that ultimately determines mortgage rates this summer, according to reporting by The Dallas Express, though that expectation has been tempered somewhat as inflation surged in February.

If the Fed does cut the benchmark rate, it may take a while before consumers see a corresponding drop in mortgage rates, but there should be more buyers as the year continues, according to Jef Conn, chairman of Texas REALTORS,

“While higher mortgage rates kept some buyers on the sidelines last year, that has led to a lot of pent-up demand,” Conn said in a press release accompanying the report. “Sales have picked up early this year, and this spring is shaping up to be an active market.”