Keller Williams settles cold-calling lawsuit for $40 million

Complaint alleged agents violated Telephone Consumers Protection Act

A photo illustration of Gary Keller (Getty)
A photo illustration of Gary Keller (Getty)

Keller Williams Realty came a-cold calling. Now, they owe $40 million.

That’s the amount the Austin-based real estate franchisor agreed to pay to settle a class action lawsuit alleging its agents made unwanted, pre-recorded phone calls to consumers, some of whom are on the National Do Not Call Registry.

In the June 2022 complaint reported by Inman, plaintiff Beverly DeShay claimed the cold-calling violated the Telephone Consumers Protection Act (TCPA) — a 1991 law designed to protect consumers against unsolicited telemarketing calls.

While cold-calling expired listings is a common industry practice, homeowners have long fought against the onslaught. In some cases, local authorities have stepped in to mitigate the problem, as in the case of one town in New York even banning all solicitations related to real estate in 2018.

TCPA violations have sparked legal action in the past. Keller Williams was hit with a separate lawsuit in 2019, and another was filed in 2022 against the Anywhere subsidiaries, NRT LLC and Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.

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The legal challenges aren’t limited to cold calls. Other real estate companies have also come under fire for spam text messages. Two Fort Lauderdale law firms sued Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate and two smaller Florida real estate agencies, Maxim Realtors and Marzucco real estate for sending auto-dialed text messages without consumers’ consent.

Miami attorneys Stefan Coleman and Avi R. Kaufman filed the class action in the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit in Indian-River County, Florida. Kaufman and Coleman have previously represented plaintiffs against real estate companies violating the TCPA, including the prior Keller Williams and Anywhere lawsuits.

As part of the settlement, Keller Williams also agreed to create a task force to ensure agents comply with the TCPA.

— Sheridan Wall

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