In the last three months, the National Association of Realtors has been hit with two nearly identical class-action lawsuits that claim its buyer broker compensation rules violate anti-trust laws.
The development has had Realtors in a frenzy over what it would mean for their livelihood if there were to be a change to the long-held practice of listing agents sharing a commission if another real estate agent brings in a buyer.
But NAR isn’t rolling over without a fight.
Earlier this week, the association filed a motion to dismiss the first suit, which was filed by a Minnesota home seller in March and also named Realogy, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX and Keller Williams.
The suit alleges that the MLS providers conspire with NAR to require sellers to pay buyer’s broker’s fees at inflated rates in violation of anti-trust laws, and that practice has “saddled home sellers with a cost that would be borne by the buyer in a competitive market.”
NAR contests this assertion, claiming that it has no role in determining the buyer broker’s fee.
“In fact, the commission offered to the buyer’s broker is not at all determined by NAR or the MLS,” said Katie Johnson, NAR’s general counsel and chief member experience officer, in a article on its website. “And, contrary to what the class action law firms allege, the commission is subject to negotiation.”
A spokesperson for NAR told HousingWire that the complaint was “baseless and contains an abundance of false claims,” and the association’s motion to dismiss essentially echoes this.
Time will tell if the court agrees.
In the meantime, NAR will likely move on to tackle the issue by responding to a second class-action suit filed in April, which Johnson also said was full of false allegations.
“The MLS has been around for well over 100 years and has contributed to an orderly and efficient marketplace,” Johnson said. “We are going to aggressively defend ourselves, along with the rights that enable home buyers and sellers to continue to have access to a highly efficient market.”