NAR copycat lawsuit adds Texas targets

Associations in Victoria, Fort Hood and Fort Worth added to class-action lawsuit

Antitrust Suit Against Texas Real Estate Associations Expanded
(Illustration by The real Deal with Getty)

The Texas lawsuit contesting “buyer broker commissions” has expanded to include antitrust accusations against more agent associations.

Lawyers filed an expanded lawsuit in a copycat of the landmark Sitzer/Burnett case, which resulted in a $1.8 billion verdict against the National Association of Realtors, Keller Williams and HomeServices of America, in Missouri on Oct. 31. 

The Texas lawyers first sued in November, naming realtor associations including Texas Association of Realtors, Austin Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, MetroTex Association of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors. QJ Team and Five Points Holdings were the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit.

In the expanded lawsuit filed on Dec. 14 in the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division, Julie Martin, Mark Adams and Adelaida Matta were added as plaintiffs, representatives for Texans who listed homes via MLS with a buyer broker commission from Nov. 13, 2019 and onward.

The expanded lawsuit added the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors, the Greater El Paso Association of Realtors, the Central Texas Multiple Listing Service, the Temple-Belton Board of Realtors, Four Rivers Association of Realtors, the Houston Realtors Information Service and other realtor associations for Fort Hood, Victoria and Williamson County as defendants. 

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The class-action lawsuit accuses real estate organizations and brokerages of engaging in a “concealed conspiracy” and violating antitrust laws. It contests the industry practice of sellers’ agents compensating buyers’ agents in exchange for listing properties on MLS. No new accusations were made in the expanded lawsuit. 

The goal is to make real estate commissions more negotiable in Texas, plaintiffs’ attorneys Julie Pettit and Michael Hurst told The Real Deal last month. Pettit accused the brokerages and real estate organizations of forcing Texans into a “price-fixing scheme,” which her team is hoping to end. 

Brokerages and real estate organizations have been tight-lipped about the ongoing litigation that could reshape Texas’ real estate landscape. 

Industry insiders and individual realtors have described the copycat suit in harsher terms, writing it off as an attempt to upend the industry. Similar lawsuits have been filed in New York, Illinois and South Carolina. 

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