Anywhere strikes buyer commission, NAR membership rules in proposed settlement

Anywhere Proposed Rule Changes in Commission Lawsuit Settlement

Anywhere Proposed Rule Changes in Commission Lawsuit Settlement
Anywhere's Ryan Schneider and Sue Yannaccone (Getty, Anywhere)

Anywhere Real Estate agreed to rule changes over buyer’s agent commission and National Association of Realtors membership as part of its settlement in two landmark antitrust lawsuits.

The parent company of Corcoran, Coldwell Banker and Sotheby’s International announced the specifics of the agreement on Friday, about a month after it chose to pay $83.5 million to settle the cases. 

We believe this is the right course of action to remove future uncertainty and ongoing legal expense,” CEO and president Ryan Schneider said in the release. 

If approved by the judges, the company will have to implement the rule changes across its brands for at least five years. Anywhere expects a hearing on the settlement terms in November with final approval in mid-2024, according to the release. 

The lawsuits, known as Moehrl and Sitzer/Burnett, allege that NAR and several of the nation’s largest brokerages violated antitrust laws by inflating commissions charged to home sellers.

The firm agreed to three policy changes in line with an agreement NAR reached with the Department of Justice in 2020, though the DOJ has since vacated the settlement to pursue a larger investigation.

As part of the revisions, Anywhere will forbid its brokerages and agents from claiming buyer’s agent services are free. The firm will also require listing brokers to specify their offer of compensation in each listing and bar its companies and agents from sorting listings by the compensation offer unless requested by the client. 

Though the firm agreed to change some of its practices, executives doubled down on their support for buyer’s agents in the announcement. 

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“It is in the economic best interests of both buyers and sellers to work with experienced trusted advisors,” said Sue Yannaccone, CEO and president of Anywhere Brands and Anywhere Advisors. “We strongly believe in sellers making offers of compensation to buyers’ agents to bring more eligible buyers to a listing, which increases the likelihood of a successful transaction.” 

Anywhere will also no longer mandate that the brokerages, franchisees and agents under its umbrella belong to NAR, or follow the NAR Code of Ethics or MLS Handbook. 

Redfin announced on Monday that it would require its agents to pull their NAR memberships in areas where doing so wouldn’t impede their access to the MLS. 

The firm will also require its agents to inform their clients that commissions are not determined by law and are negotiable, and it will eliminate minimum client commission requirements across its brands.

Some MLSs have already axed the minimum compensation requirement, according to Yannacone, which has “helped to facilitate seller choice in those markets as well as provide for continued access to both buyer and seller agent services.” 

Anywhere was the first of the defendants to settle last month, followed by Re/Max. The firm agreed to pay $55 million and adopt certain policy changes, though the specifics remain confidential. 

HomeServices of America and Keller Williams remain as defendants, along with NAR. 

The first of the two trials — for the Sitzer/Burnett case —  is scheduled to start on Oct. 16 in Kansas City.

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