Wilder Group, Inc. v. Byers: Connecticut Court Reviews Licensing Statute to Resolve Commission Dispute Between Inter-State Brokers

Note: This case is not published in an official reporter and may not be cited as authority. Consult with counsel before relying on this case.

The Wilder Group, a real estate broker licensed in New York, claimed Benjamin Byers, a real estate broker licensed in Connecticut, owed Wilder a commission pursuant to a cobrokerage agreement in connection with the sale of an inn and restaurant. The agreement provided that Byers would pay Wilder a 3% commission in the event the property was sold to a buyer introduced to the property by Wilder. Wilder introduced the ultimate purchaser to the property, but Byers refused to pay Wilder a commission. Byers filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming that Wilder did not have standing to prosecute the action since Wilder was not a duly licensed Connecticut real estate broker, and thus, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

The court looked to the relevant Connecticut licensing statutes and determined that according to Connecticut law, "competent real estate brokers who are duly licensed and currently practicing in other states with licensing requirements and reciprocity provisions similar to Connecticut's will be given preferential treatment in obtaining their Connecticut licenses...an out-of-state broker may not simply come into Connecticut and do business as a real estate broker under the putative authority of his valid out-of-state broker's license." The court decided that Wilder, not being licensed in Connecticut, had no right to render real estate brokerage services in Connecticut.

The court then addressed the question of whether Wilder's activities in connection with the sale of the property constituted the rendering of a service in the capacity of a real estate broker, and pointed to the fact that Wilder sought recovery under a cobrokerage agreement with Byers. As the court explained, the essence of a cobrokerage agreement is that both parties perform real estate brokerage functions within the meaning of the Connecticut statute, and Wilder's activities in that capacity were not allowed without a valid Connecticut broker's license. Therefore, the court held that because the activity for which Wilder sought recovery clearly was brokerage activity in which Wilder had no right to engage without a Connecticut real estate broker's license, Wilder was barred from pursuing the action, and the case was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Wilder Group, Inc. v. Byers, 1995 WL 127877 (Conn. Super. Ct. 1995). [Note: This opinion was not published in an official reporter and therefore should not be cited as authority. Please consult counsel before relying on this opinion.]