Real-Estate Agent Broker Commissions Antitrust

DEFENDANT NAME: The National Association of Realtors, Realogy Holdings Corp., HomeServices of America Inc., RE/MAX Holdings Inc., Keller Williams Realty Inc.
STOCK SYMBOL:
CASE NUMBER: 1:19-cv-01610
CASE NAME:
COURT: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
PRACTICE AREA: Antitrust Litigation
STATUS: Active
CLASS PERIOD:
LEAD PLAINTIFF DEADLINE:
DATE FILED: 03/06/19
COURT LOCATION:
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Did you sell your home within the last five years through a real estate agent?

You likely overpaid by thousands of dollars in real-estate broker commission. You could be entitled to reimbursement for price-fixing. Find out your rights »

Our attorneys are investigating four national broker franchises for illegally inflating the commissions associated with home sales. Total broker and real estate agent commissions in affected areas average between 5 and 6 percent, a substantially higher figure than in countries with competitive markets for real estate brokers and agents.

AFFECTED METRO AREAS

 This class-action lawsuit pertains to many metros across the nation, and our firm is actively seeking to hear from those who have sold a home with a real estate agent in one of the following areas:

  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Fort Myers, Florida
  • Miami, Florida
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Houston, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Salt Lake City, Utah

AFFECTED BROKER FRANCHISES

We believe the following national broker franchises conspired with the National Association of Realtors and others to cheat home sellers out of thousands of dollars by illegally fixing real estate agent broker commissions:

  • Realogy Holdings Corp. – Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, CENTURY 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA, Sotheby’s
  • HomeServices of America Inc. – Berkshire Hathaway, RealtySouth, Long & Foster, Edina Realty & others
  • RE/MAX Holdings Inc.
  • Keller Williams Realty

If you sold your home through a real estate broker or agent, sign up now »

REAL ESTATE PRICE FIXING EXPLAINED

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants’ conspiracy has centered around NAR’s adoption and implementation of a mandatory rule that requires all brokers and real estate agents to make a blanket, non-negotiable offer of buyer broker/agent compensation (the “Buyer Broker Commission Rule”) when listing a property on a MLS.

Most MLSs (including all MLSs at issue in this case) are controlled by local NAR associations, and access to such MLSs is conditioned on real estate agents and brokers following all mandatory rules set forth in NAR’s Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy, including the Buyer Broker Commission Rule.

The conspiracy, plaintiffs allege, has saddled home sellers with a cost that would be borne by the buyer in a competitive market. Moreover, because most buyer brokers will not show homes to their clients where the seller is offering a lower buyer broker real estate agent commission, or will show homes with higher commission offers first, sellers are incentivized when making the required blanket, non-negotiable offer to procure the buyer brokers’ cooperation by offering a high commission.

The mandatory Buyer Broker Commission Rule ensures that price competition among buyer brokers and real estate agents is restrained because the person retaining the buyer broker, the buyer, does not negotiate or pay his or her broker’s commission. In addition, the seller’s inflated commission offer cannot be reduced by buyers or their brokers, as Defendants also prohibit buyer brokers and agents from making home purchase offers contingent on the reduction of the buyer broker commission. Absent this rule, buyer brokers would be paid by their clients and would compete to be retained by offering a lower commission.

Currently, total broker/real estate agent compensation in the United States is typically five to six percent of the home sales price, with approximately half of that amount—and increasingly more than half—paid to the buyer broker. Defendants’ conspiracy has kept buyer broker and agent commissions in the 2.5 to 3.0 percent range for many years despite the diminishing role of buyer brokers due to buyers independently identifying homes through online services and retaining buyer brokers only after they have found the home they wish to buy.

The conspiracy has inflated buyer broker and real estate agent commissions, which, in turn, have inflated the total commissions paid by home sellers, who have incurred, on average, thousands of dollars in damages as a result of Defendants’ conspiracy.

MLSs covered in this action in full include:

  • The Bright MLS (including the metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C.);
  • My Florida Regional MLS (including the metropolitan areas of Tampa, Orlando, and Sarasota);
  • The five MLSs in the Mid-West that cover the following metropolitan areas: Cleveland, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota;
  • The six MLSs in the Southwest that cover the following metropolitan areas: Austin, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Houston, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; Phoenix, Arizona; San Antonio Texas;
  • The three MLSs in the Mountain West that cover the following metropolitan areas: Colorado Springs, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah;
  • The four MLSs in the Southeast that cover the following metropolitan areas: Fort Myers, Florida; Miami, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

YOUR RIGHTS WHEN SELLING A HOME

Hagens Berman believes that home sellers have been cheated in real-estate broker commissions, and we intend to fight to recover overcharges. When entities arrange together to rig prices, or control a market, consumers always lose, and we’re here to challenge this illegal price-fixing.

TOP CONSUMER RIGHTS FIRM

Hagens Berman is one of the most successful consumer litigation law firms in the U.S. and has achieved more than $260 billion in settlements for consumers in lawsuits against big banks, technology corporations, automakers and others. Hagens Berman has achieved many monumental settlements for consumers in price-fixing suits, including one against Apple and various publishing companies in 2016 that settled for a total $560 million. Your claim will be handled by attorneys experienced in consumer and antitrust law.

NO COST TO YOU

There is no cost or fee whatsoever involved in joining this investigation. In the event Hagens Berman or any other firm obtains a settlement that provides benefits to class members, the court will decide a reasonable fee to be awarded to the class' legal team. In no case will any class member ever be asked to pay any out-of-pocket sum.

 


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