The ruling by Judge Stephen R. Bough on Thursday resolves antitrust claims in the Sitzer | Burnett, Moehrl and Nosalek commission cases. However, it won’t quash other existing suits from buyers.

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Despite a last-minute attempt to block them, nationwide settlements Keller Williams, Anywhere and RE/MAX reached to resolve antitrust claims against them have received final approval from the court.

Judge Stephen R. Bough of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri Western Division made the decision on Thursday after a fairness hearing in which objectors were given the opportunity to voice their qualms with the deals.

The settlements for the three franchisors cover claims from the cases known as Sitzer | Burnett, Moehrl and Nosalek, as well as other, similar homeseller suits nationwide.

“We are pleased to hear of the court’s final approval of our settlement,” Keller Williams spokesperson Darryl Frost told Inman in a statement.

“We will continue to focus on what we do best: empowering real estate entrepreneurs so they can deliver exceptional value to their clients.”

Keller Williams has 176,000 agents under its umbrella and says it is the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count.

In a statement, RE/MAX told Inman it was pleased by the court’s decision to grant final approval to its settlement, which resolves claims against the company, all U.S. RE/MAX independent regions, franchisees and agents.

“We thank the court for its careful consideration and decision,” a RE/MAX spokesperson said.

“Since entering into the settlement in October 2023, RE/MAX has been committed to obtaining final approval and providing releases for all U.S. RE/MAX Broker/Owners and affiliates.

“We are thrilled to be moving forward, maintaining our focus on supporting RE/MAX affiliates and continuing to foster greater transparency in the industry on behalf of homebuyers and sellers.

In a press release, RE/MAX noted that the deal “will become effective following any appeals process, if applicable.” The company also emphasized that the settlement was not an admission of liability and that “RE/MAX continues to deny the material allegations of the complaints in the lawsuits.”

Similarly, Anywhere said its settlement “releases the Company, all subsidiaries, brands, affiliated agents, and franchisees and their agents from ongoing and future litigation surrounding the antitrust claims” in Sitzer | Burnett, Moehrl and Nosalek.

“This is a significant milestone on our path to put these claims behind us, begin to implement agreed upon practice changes, and move forward with our affiliated agents and franchisees as, together, we continue helping home buyers and sellers move to what’s next,” Anywhere CEO and President Ryan Schneider said in a statement.

Anywhere stressed that the deal is not an admission of liability on the company’s part.

The Sitzer | Burnett, Moehrl and other commission suits allege that some National Association of Realtors rules violate the Sherman Antitrust Act by inflating seller costs. The suits primarily target NAR’s Participation Rule (also known as the cooperative compensation rule), which requires listing brokers to offer buyer brokers a commission in order to list a property in a Realtor-affiliated multiple listing service.

Anywhere and RE/MAX reached the now-approved settlements in the fall, for $83.5 million and $55 million, respectively. Keller Williams settled on Feb. 1 for $70 million.

As part of the deals, the franchisors agreed to business practice changes, including no longer requiring franchisees and their affiliated agents to join or be members of NAR or follow the Realtor Code of Ethics or NAR’s MLS policy handbook.

“This is awesome news for homesellers all across the country,” Michael Ketchmark of Ketchmark & McCreight, lead counsel for the Sitzer | Burnett plaintiffs, told Inman in a statement.

“Change is on the way. We cannot wait to watch the free market work.”

Anywhere’s announcement noted that the settlement “will not eliminate” similar litigation brought by homebuyers, “but will reduce the size of the potential, as yet uncertified, class by eliminating claims for buy-side damages by those individuals who also sold a property and are covered by the Anywhere settlement.”

On Wednesday morning, homebuyer plaintiffs in a case known as Batton 1 (formerly Leeder), filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction seeking to prevent the settlements’ final approval out of fear they wouldn’t be able to pursue their own claims if the court approved the companies’ proposed settlements as written.

But hours later, the court rejected the request, saying the homebuyer plaintiffs already would have their opportunity to make their case during today’s final approval hearing.

Inman has reached out to an attorney for the Batton 1 plaintiffs, Carol O’Keefe of Korein Tillery, for comment and will update this story if and when a response is received.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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