LegalReal Estate

New (and unusual) commission lawsuit alleges collusion in Sin City

No real estate brokerages were named as defendants in the Whaley suit

The latest copycat commission lawsuit alleges that real estate industry players in Nevada have colluded to artificially inflate real estate agent commissions. The suit was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas by Nathaniel Whaley, who sold a home in Las Vegas in April 2022 and paid a buyer broker commission.

The complaint names the National Association of Realtors, Las Vegas Realtors, Nevada Realtors, Sierra Nevada Realty, Incline Village Realtors, Elko County Realtors, Mesquite Real Estate Association and Northern Nevada Regional MLS as defendants. Unlike other commission lawsuit, the Whaley suit only names Realtor associations as defendants.

As with all of the other commission lawsuits, the Whaley suit takes aim at NAR’s Participation Rule which requires listing brokers to make a blanket offer of compensation to buyer’s brokers in order to list a property on an MLS.  

“The unlawful restraints implemented and enforced by Defendants’ conspiracy, further the common goals of permitting Defendants herein to impose supra-competitive charges on home sellers and restrain competition by precluding competition from innovative or lower priced alternatives,” the complaint reads.

The suits also alleges that members of the association defendants “participate in and continue the conspiracy by serving on boards and committees that enforce compliance with NAR Rules.”

“Through these actions, and others alleged in this Complaint, each of the Association Defendants, and NAR, have taken actions to further the conspiracy and thereby have agreed to join, participate in, facilitate, and implement the conspiracy,” the complaint states.

In an emailed statement, NAR’s vice president of communications Mantill Williams, wrote that NAR will respond to the complaint in court.

“The cooperative compensation practice makes efficient, transparent, and accessible marketplaces possible,” Williams wrote. “Sellers can sell their home for more and have their home seen by more buyers while buyers have more choices of homes and can afford representation.”

The plaintiff is seeking class action status for the suit with the class consisting of anyone who listed a home on one of the eight MLSs named as a defendant and paid a buyer broker commission between Jan. 15, 2020, and the present.

Additionally, the complaint demands a jury trial and asks for treble damages and injunctive relief.

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