Kansas City, Missouri – A jury in Kansas City, Missouri, has awarded $1.8 billion in damages to home sellers who claimed that the National Association of Realtors and several major real estate brokers in the country colluded to inflate real estate commissions. The potential award could triple to more than $5 billion under US anti-trust laws.
The unanimous verdict comes at a time when mortgage rates are inching up to 8% and home sales are struggling. This ruling could potentially bring about substantial changes to how home sellers pay real estate agents. Currently, the National Association of Realtors mandates that sellers pay commissions to both their agent and the buyer’s agent, typically amounting to 6% of the sale price. However, this verdict declares that sellers will no longer be obligated to pay the buyer’s agents.
“We view it as a tremendous day of accountability for these companies,” remarked Michael Ketchmark, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
The National Association of Realtors, the largest professional organization in the US, plans to appeal the decision. Other defendants in the case, including Keller Williams and HomeService of America, have also expressed their intention to appeal.
The plaintiffs argued that the association’s rules forced sellers to make a non-negotiable commission offer before their homes were listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) property database. If the sellers didn’t comply, their homes would not be listed on MLS, limiting visibility to potential buyers.
Two days following the jury’s decision, Bob Goldberg, the longtime CEO of the National Association of Realtors, announced he would be stepping down earlier than previously planned.
“After announcing my decision to retire earlier this year, and as I reflected on my 30 years at NAR, I determined last month that now is the right time for this extraordinary organization to look to the future,” Goldberg stated.
In summary, a jury in Kansas City, Missouri, has awarded $1.8 billion in damages to home sellers who accused the National Association of Realtors and major real estate brokers of collusion to inflate real estate commissions. The verdict, which may triple the amount under US anti-trust laws, could have significant implications for how home sellers pay real estate agents. The National Association of Realtors intends to appeal the ruling, as do other defendants in the case.