Currently, repair compare merkle trees by pair, in isolation of any other tree. What that means concretely is that if I have three node A, B and C (RF=3) with A and B in sync, but C having some range r inconsitent with both A and B (since those are consistent), we will do the following transfer of r: A -> C, C -> A, B -> C, C -> B.
The fact that we do both A -> C and C -> A is fine, because we cannot know which one is more to date from A or C. However, the transfer B -> C is useless provided we do A -> C if A and B are in sync. Not doing that transfer will be a 25% improvement in that case. With RF=5 and only one node inconsistent with all the others, that almost a 40% improvement, etc...
Given that this situation of one node not in sync while the others are is probably fairly common (one node died so it is behind), this could be a fair improvement over what is transferred. In the case where we use repair to rebuild completely a node, this will be a dramatic improvement, because it will avoid the rebuilded node to get RF times the data it should get.