Anywhere pays $83M to settle landmark commission suits

Deal affecting term’s practices comes after suits “meaningfully impacted” Q1 EBITDA

Anywhere Settles Landmark Antitrust Suits For $83M
Anywhere CEO Ryan Schneider (Getty, Anywhere)

Anywhere Real Estate chose to pay an estimated $83.5 million settlement to the plaintiffs of two seismic agent commission lawsuits.

Anywhere is the only defendant who has agreed to settle all claims in the antitrust lawsuits Moehrl v. National Association of Realtors and Sitzer/Burnett v NAR, Inman reported. 

The settlement by the parent company of Corcoran, Coldwell Banker, Century21 and Sotheby’s International Realty leaves other defendants including NAR, Keller Williams, ReMax and HomeServices of America as participants in the suit, which is scheduled to start trial in Kansas City on Oct. 16.

“The monetary settlement was the most that could be obtained in light of Anywhere’s available financial resources,” Steve Berman, attorney for Moehrl plaintiffs, told Inman. “Critically, the settlement includes significant changes to Anywhere’s practices relating to the conduct that we have challenged.”  

The exact settlement terms will be confidential until plaintiffs file a motion for the approval of the settlement, according to another attorney quoted by Inman. 

A representative for Anywhere said the settlement would release the firm and its franchisees from uncertainty of claims and expenses from possible trials.  

In its first fiscal quarter for this year, Anywhere reported its involvement as a defendant in the agent commission lawsuits had “meaningfully impacted“ its operating EBITDA.

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Sitzer/Burnett and Moehrl allege that NAR and major real estate companies forced home sellers into an anti-competitive system where a commission is split between listing agents and buyers. Plaintiffs contend this system has resulted in inflated buyer agent fees.

NAR spokesman Mantill Williams said that the trade group will not change its participation in the antitrust lawsuits. 

“We are confident we will prevail in proving the lawfulness of the rules under attack. Pro-competitive, pro-consumer local MLS broker marketplaces ensure equity, efficiency, transparency and market-driven pricing options for home buyers and sellers,” he wrote in an email to TRD

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Top agents told TRD that these antitrust cases have the potential to upend the way business is done in real estate. Anthony Marguleas of Amalfi Estates, one of the top 20 Los Angeles brokerages ranked by The Real Deal in 2022, earlier this year forecast buyer’s agents compensation could change if plaintiffs prevail in these cases.

“Once the amount of compensation is put on the open market, and the buyer has to cut a check to their agent, the payment the buyer’s agent typically receives will drop substantially. No buyer will want to cut  a check between 2.5 to 3 percent of the purchase price,” Marguleas said earlier in the year. “I can foresee buyers’ agents getting paid hourly like attorneys.”

Andrew Asch