Two recently filed class-action antitrust lawsuits against the National Association of REALTORS® and several major real estate franchisors allege falsely that consumers have no ability to negotiate commissions with real estate professionals, says Katie Johnson, NAR’s general counsel and chief member experience officer.
In Moerhl v. National Association of REALTORS®, Realogy Holdings, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX and Keller Williams (and another class action lawsuit with similar claims having Sawbill Strategic, Inc. as the plaintiff), home sellers who listed their properties on several multiple listing services are claiming that NAR’s MLS policies—which require all participants to cooperate with and compensate other participants—is a violation of antitrust law. “In fact, the commission offered to the buyer’s broker is not at all determined by NAR or the MLS,” says Johnson. “And, contrary to what the class action law firms allege, the commission is subject to negotiation.”
At the AE Institute in April, Johnson told the gathering of association leaders that NAR is preparing a motion to dismiss the Moerhl suit. She encouraged AEs to educate members on the issue so that they can have open conversations with their clients, and remind members of the importance of having buyers representative agreements with clients.
“The MLS has been around for well over 100 years and has contributed to an orderly and efficient marketplace,” says Johnson. “We are going to aggressively defend ourselves, along with the rights that enable home buyers and sellers to continue to have access to a highly efficient market.”
Look to The Hub for frequently updated FAQs and statements regarding the progress of the case. Visit thehub.realtor and search for “class-action antitrust.”