What are the lawsuits about?
The primary allegation in the Moehrl v. NAR and Sitzer v. NAR lawsuits is that home sellers are unfairly being required to pay the commissions of buyers’ brokers while falsely suggesting the role of buyer broker has diminished over time.
Where is the litigation right now?
The cases are in the next phase of the litigation, discovery, which can last months or even years. As the cases move forward, we intend to demonstrate how the MLS system creates competitive, efficient markets that benefit home buyers and sellers as well as small business brokerages. The MLS fosters cooperation between brokers, providing the best and greatest number of options for buyers and sellers. The plaintiffs' attorneys continue to misunderstand and mischaracterize the pro-competitive, pro-consumer MLS system, which – as you know – is designed first and foremost with the best interests of buyers and sellers in mind.
What is the motivation for the plaintiffs bringing this case?
We can’t speculate on the motivation. What we can say is that this lawsuit is wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and wrong on the economics. The reality is that the MLS system works in the best interests of both buyers and sellers, and the way commissions are paid plays a key role in maximizing this benefit.
What would be the impact on the home buying market if the plaintiffs are successful?
We can’t speculate on what may or may not happen. What we can tell you is how confident we are in our position about the clear pro-competitive, pro-consumer benefits of the MLS system. The MLS has been around for more than 100 years and continues to contribute to an orderly and efficient marketplace today. We are going to aggressively defend ourselves, along with the rights that benefit home buyers and sellers to continue to have access to a pro-consumer, highly efficient market.
What is the likelihood this lawsuit will go to court, and if so, how long is this likely to go on?
Given the motion to dismiss was denied, we are likely looking at a very long, drawn-out process. Class action lawsuits like this one have been known to go on for years – sometimes more than a decade.
Is there any chance NAR would settle with the plaintiffs out of court?
This lawsuit strikes at the heart of the MLS system that has greatly benefitted literally millions of home buyers and sellers for 100 years. Given the potential harm to consumers, we do not see an avenue for settlement.
What other kinds of anti-trust challenges have there been based on MLS rules?
Various MLS rules have been tested over time, from who can access the MLS to what information MLS participants must be able to display publicly, but time and again the system has been proven to provide competitive, efficient markets that benefit home buyers and sellers. From where NAR sits, we continue to be motivated by rules and actions we believe to be pro-consumer and pro-competitive.
Is it okay to discuss the lawsuit with my clients?
Absolutely. Brokers and agents are encouraged to have transparent conversations with current and prospective clients about the services they will provide and how they will get paid for those services. This lawsuit doesn’t change that. Brokers are compensated for their services and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system is uniquely designed to facilitate successful closings in the best interest of home buyers and sellers. Brokers and agents may refer to the General Member Message Points on Antitrust Lawsuits for information to help guide these conversations with clients.