SALT LAKE CITY — A federal class-action lawsuit filed in Illinois last week against numerous real estate brokers, including some operating in Utah, as well as the National Association of Realtors, claims the defendants have been “conspiring to require home sellers to pay the broker representing the buyer of their homes, and to pay at an inflated amount, in violation of federal antitrust law.”
The complaint is seeking to both recover damages, potentially in the tens of billions of dollars, as well as change Realtor rules that the suit says “requires all brokers to make a blanket, non-negotiable offer of buyer broker compensation … when listing a property on a Multiple Listing Service.”
One Utah resident who said he and his wife were harassed by real estate agents after listing their home for sale without an offer of a commission for the buyer’s agent said the action is “absolutely understandable” after the experience they went through.
The Salt Lake City Multiple Listing Service is one of 20 MLS’s identified in the lawsuit in which plaintiff attorney’s are signing class participants, which they indicate are any persons who paid a broker commission since March 6, 2015, on the sale of a residential property in the listed MLS areas.
In addition to the Realtors group, other defendants include Realogy Holdings Corp., which includes Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA and Sotheby’s; HomeServices of America Inc., which includes Berkshire Hathaway, RealtySouth, Long & Foster, Edina Realty and others; RE/MAX Holdings Inc.; and Keller Williams Realty.
A web posting by plaintiffs’ law firm Hagens Berman said the brokerage companies “conspired with the National Association of Realtors and others to cheat home sellers out of thousands of dollars by illegally fixing real estate broker commissions.”
“The National Association of Realtors has worked with these franchises to eliminate competition over business, implementing rules that prevent offering lower commissions and negotiation of buyer broker commission, and serve no other purpose for home sellers,” the posting reads. “Total broker commissions in affected areas average between 5 and 6 percent, a substantially higher figure than in countries with competitive markets for real estate brokers.”
The firm also said the Realtors association is the largest political lobbying group in the country and worked with the real estate franchises “to boycott and punish any buyer brokers who offered to accept a lower commission.”
The Realtors association responded to a Deseret News request for comment …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Business News