Industry News

Sarasota Realtor sues local real estate association

Alleges group ties membership to lockbox, MLS data access

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A Florida Realtor is suing the Sarasota Association of Realtors for allegedly forcing local real estate agents to buy memberships in the association as a condition of purchasing lockbox keys and multiple listing service data. The suit, filed Wednesday in federal district court in Tampa, Fla., seeks $5 million and class-action status, amounting to $4,500 for each member of the class, and names 14 association directors as defendants. Lois M. Hekker, broker with Buyer's Agents International Realty in Sarasota, is the plaintiff in the suit. A representative from the Sarasota Association was not available to comment on the suit Wednesday afternoon. The complaint cites the 1991 federal appeals court decision in Thompson vs. Metropolitan Multi-List in Florida, which held that a Realtor association that had monopoly power over its MLS could not force real estate agents to purchase memberships in the trade association as a condition of gaining access to the MLS. The complaint alleges that ...