NAR hit with another antitrust suit over buyer-broker commissions

Complaint alleges home sellers are paying inflated buyer-broker commissions, the second such recent suit
April 17, 2019 09:30AM

NAR president John Smaby (Credit: NAR and Pixabay)

NAR president John Smaby (Credit: NAR and Pixabay)

Even more home sellers are taking aim at the National Association of Realtors and major home-selling brokerages over buyer commissions and multiple listings services, according to a new antitrust lawsuit filed this week.

The suit, filed in the Northern District of Illinois by Sawbill Strategic Inc., alleges that the industry group and the “big four” home-selling brokerages — Realogy, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX and Keller Williams — are “conspiring to require property sellers to pay the broker representing the buyer of their properties, and to pay an inflated amount,” in 20 metropolitan areas, according to Inman.

The filing follows a near-identical suit filed last month against NAR by home-seller Christopher Moehrl of Minnesota, that takes issue with NAR rules that require sell-side brokers to offer buyer-broker compensation when listing a property on a MLS, a move that has driven up costs to the seller and whittled down competition.

Together, the lawsuits are seeking class-action status, on behalf of “thousands” of home sellers who were made to pay a commission to the broker representing the buyer of their homes in the last four years.

In response to the latest filing, NAR said the “complaint is baseless and contains an abundance of false claims,” according to a statement provided to Inman.

“The U.S. courts have routinely found that multiple listing services are pro-competitive and benefit consumers by creating great efficiencies in the home-buying and selling process.” [Inman] — David Jeans