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Even in an era marked by change, there’s nothing with quite the same explosive potential for the real estate industry as the bombshell commission lawsuits.
The industry is confronting a number of legal and regulatory challenges right now. But the “bombshell” label is usually understood as applying to a pair of class action antitrust cases: Sitzer/Burnett and Moehrl. Both cases are known by the names of the consumer-plaintiffs, or in other words homesellers, who filed them. The cases argue in essence that some National Association of Realtors’ rules — including one that requires listing brokers to offer buyer brokers a commission in order to list a property in a Realtor-affiliated multiple listing service (MLS) — violate the Sherman Antitrust Act by inflating seller costs.
In addition to NAR, the suits name as defendants major franchisors such as Realogy, Keller Williams and others — effectively making the cases challenges to the real estate establishment.
The cases were filed years ago and have been gradually wending their way through the legal system. But as the establishment has repeatedly failed to end the cases — the cases were granted class action status, for example, against the objections of the defendants — the specter of a victory for the homeseller plaintiffs has grown. And that in turn has forced the industry to grapple with the possibility that the commission lawsuits may indeed be highly disruptive.
Right now, both Sitzer/Burnett and Moehrl are headed to trial. But before that happens, Inman wants to know how you’re feeling about the cases. Do you think the consumer-plaintiffs will win, or will the industry establishment maintain the status quo? Is a settlement likely? And even if the plaintiffs do win, do you think the industry is headed for major changes? How well have you prepared?
To that end, Inman has put together its first commission lawsuit survey. Click over and answer the questions to let us know what you think, and be sure to check back soon to read our write-up on the survey’s results.