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DOJ gets its way in buyer broker compensation suit

The settlement hearing deadline for MLS PIN’s settlement agreement was extended by two months

Judge Patti Saris of the U.S. District Court in Boston granted the Department of Justice’s request to extend all settlement related deadlines in the Nosalek buyer broker compensation class action lawsuit on Tuesday.

The final settlement hearing deadline is now scheduled for March 7, 2024, instead of Jan. 4, 2024.

In a statement of interest filed last Thursday, the DOJ noted that it had “significant concerns” about the proposed antitrust settlement agreement between home sellers and MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN).

The DOJ said it wanted more time to better “evaluate the proposed settlement and its competitive effects.”

Originally filed in December 2020, the Nosalek lawsuit, named after its lead plaintiff, alleges that the broker-owned MLS PIN is not directly required to abide by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) rules.

However, it has nonetheless adopted a rule similar to a NAR rule requiring listing brokers to offer a blanket, unilateral offer of compensation to buyer brokers in order to submit a listing to MLS PIN.

The other defendants in the suit include AnywhereRE/MAXKeller Williams and HomeServices of America.

Unlike the two other buyer-broker commission lawsuitsMoehrl and Sitzer/Burnett, NAR is not a defendant in the Nosalek lawsuit. Additionally, while Anywhere and RE/MAX have filed settlement agreements in the Moehrl and Sitzer/Burnett suits, they have not tried to settle the Nosalek suit.

MLS PIN, which is New England’s largest Multiple Listing Service (MLS), filed the settlement agreement in late June. Despite initial skepticism, Saris ultimately approved the settlement in mid-September.

In the proposed agreement, MLS PIN said it would pay $3 million, change its commission policies and cooperate against the remaining defendants in the lawsuit. According to the proposed settlement, of the $3 million MLS PIN has agreed to pay in the settlement, up to $900,000 will go toward attorney’s fees, up to $200,000 will go toward expenses, $250,000 will go toward notifying settlement class members and each of the three named lead plaintiffs will get up to $2,500 for being class representatives.

The remaining $1.6425 million would be used to pay for further expenses for the litigation against the remaining defendants “for the benefit of Settlement Class Members,” according to the filing.

HomeServices and Keller Williams declined to comment on the extension. RE/MAX, Anywhere, MLS PIN, as well as counsel for the plaintiffs and the DOJ’s Antitrust Division did not return a request for comment.

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